North of the DMZ

One of the most asked questions on the internet related to Korean tourism searches. Can you visit North Korea from Seoul is a fairly straightforward one to answer. 

The Korean Peninsula has been divided in two since the end of the Second World War when the Soviets backed the North and the Americans the South. Since then the two sides have only grown further and further apart. Sadly, at no time has free travel been allowed between the two. The “border”or demarcation line is a 4km buffer zone that stretches for 250km coast to coast. It’s the world’s most impenetrable border.

Travelling to North Korea via China

While others would have you velieve that visiing the DMZ and putting one foot in North Korea counts. We’re going to classify that as a hard no. You can easily arrange a day tour of the DMZ from Seoul but this is meerly allowing you a sneak peak into North Korea.  On most day tours you do get to go inside one of the blue huts that straddle the border so technically you can say you have visited. If you really want to see North Korea though you will have to join a group tour via China.

This is easily doable from Seoul. Many flights depart Seoul daily for North East China. You could fly to Dalian, Shenyang, Yanji close to the North Korean border, or start your tour in Beijing. From any of those places simple jump on a fast train to the border city of Dandong to meet up with your tour group. From there it’s a wonderful train ride to Pyongyang and the beginning of an unforgettable experience.

North Korean army guide at the DMZ

A Reunified Future?

While real travel between the Korea’s remains impossible today, there has been steps in the past to prepare for a slight opening of border. During the Sunshine Policy period of inter Korean relations plans were set up to reopen the Gyeongui railway Line. The line once connected Pyongyang with Seoul prior to 1945. Fresh tracks were laid across the DMZ and a station at Dorasan was renovated on the southern side. 

The line has since gone quiet again and no regular passenger trains were ever announced.

So can you visit North Korea from Seoul? Technically yes but you are much better off travelling to China and jumping on one of our North Korea Tours!

Rocky road travel founder Shane Horan at the DMZ


When Shane is not endlessly writing content for Rocky Road, he’s usually kayaking to and from work along Berlin’s River Spree.