Through Koryo, Wendy Simmons, a New Orleans-based marketing executive and writer, traveled to North Korea in 2016 and was accompanied throughout her trip, including visits to the bathroom, by guides. She returned home to write the book “My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth.”
“It’s a chance to go to a place that’s not fallen under American and European influence, so if it becomes safe again I’d go,” Ms. Simmons said.
Tim Neville, a correspondent for Outside magazine and a frequent contributor to The New York Times, traveled to North Korea in 2014 to report on its first ski area. Like Ms. Simmons, he booked his trip through Koryo and was accompanied throughout his stay by guides.
“In a world of absolute peace where none of the politics exist, absolutely it would be a great destination,” Mr. Neville said. “It has a fantastic coastline. Something like 70 percent of country is mountainous. It’s very rugged. The hiking would be fantastic.”
For now, South Korea, following its star turn hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, may be the beneficiary of increased attention to the peninsula.
According to the Korean Tourism Organization, based in Los Angeles, 869,000 Americans visited South Korea in 2017, up slightly from 866,000 in 2016. As relations have improved between the two Koreas and North Korea has said it has stopped its nuclear tests, the tourism agency aims to attract 1 million Americans annually in the next two years.
“It’s the most underrated destination in Asia right now, like Japan was a decade or two ago,” said Michael Holtz, the founder and chief executive of SmartFlyer, a travel agency based in New York. He recommends clients add a stopover in Seoul en route to other Asian destinations such as Cambodia or Thailand.