North Korean Highway Undergoing Repair
When the president arrived in a motorcade at Singapore’s posh Sentosa Island resort, hopes were high Americans could soon holiday in North Korea if they were so inclined. Quite why they would want to do so remains a mystery to us. However, we owe it to our customers to leave no stone unturned as we investigate the secretive car rental industry everywhere.
The State of North Korea and Its Roads
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea - conveniently abbreviated DPRK, PRK, DPR Korea, or Korea DPR according to your mood - is not particularly advanced with respect to its roads. Just 350 miles of a total 16,000 have hard surfaces, and road maintenance is not a priority among government spend.
That said, the DPRK did allow 100 Chinese visitors to arrive in their autos in 2011, and swan around the countryside under close ‘supervision’ of officials. This apparently stage-managed event has not repeated since then. However tales still abound of “tourists eating slap-up meals in top restaurants and attending lavish concerts,” according to Drivers Abroad.
Wikipedia let slip that “cars are relatively rare, but bicycles are common,” although the esteemed leader and his military do have an abundance of wheels at parades. We decided to take a rain check on rented bicycles if there are any. This was after we learned the topography resembles “a sea in a heavy gale” owing to a succession of mountain ranges and we don't like pedaling up hills.
Driving in North Korea - The Ins and The Outs
Most residents travel by train because of petroleum shortages, and moreover cars are scarce. This is probably just as well, as another Wikipedia author reports “drivers will often swerve, brake and change lanes to evade animals, pedestrians, dogs, potholes, trees, sinkholes, land mines and this includes going into opposite-direction lanes.”
Drivers must carry passengers at all times. These could be government stooges although the official reason is this is more democratic. At this stage, renting a car seems a remote possibility. Because foreigners leaving their hotels alone are likely to be charged with espionage which is another sinkhole to avoid.
If the country opens up, car rental clients will need official DPRK driving licences. Hence it seems likely chauffeurs will be part of the deal, and no doubt American style damage and loss waivers too. We could not possibly recommend you attempt anything like that without your Bonzah rental cars insurance. Our North Korea lines are open. The basic plan costs $7.99 a day. For this, you get $35,000 cover without any deductibles.
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North Korean Highway Undergoing Repair: Mike Connolly BY CC 2.0