5 Kiwi bikers took to the roads of North Korea for an epic motorcycle adventure.
The North Korean Motorcycle Diaries
In 2013, five motorcyclists led by a New Zealand couple took on what may be both the most unique and dangerous adventure holiday recorded – a ride along the peninsula shared by North and South Korea. Their guided tour started at the Russian border, wove through the Baekdudaegan mountains, and stopped at some of the most famous South Korean landmarks. We see glimpses along the way of farms, rural houses and industry, which together provide an idea of what life might be like for locals. Aside from political tensions, the struggles of the trip involved navigating difficult terrain not usually covered by motorbikes.
“It was, the Morgans believe, the first time anyone’s ever travelled through both countries like that since the partitioning of Korea in 1945”
– Tim Poole’s report on the trip
Watch the two-minute trailer for the North Korean adventure here:
Their Journey Through The Mountains and City
The journey involved countless hours of planning and negotiation, especially as they were planning on filming material of the trip. The resulting film published by VICE is a fascinating insight on the country, which I’m sure many people are curious to see. The landscapes are especially breath-taking as they are so rarely seen, and so highly valued by both cultures (the North and South).
The group of five riders travelled with four guides, a host and a ‘motorcade’ of security in vehicles driving in front of and behind the group as they followed their route on the rarely used and rough mountain roads. The team were extremely well prepared for the journey in terms of what they packed and the skills each rider brought to the table.
Alongside the epic mountainside journey, the group also stopped off in Pyongyang to get a taste of city life. In this section of the documentary, you’ll see civil buildings and public displays/performances.
If you’re interested in the two New Zealander’s thoughts on the purpose of their North Korean adventure, check out the link below for some cutting insights and interesting anecdotes.
The tone of the whole piece is touching and full of hope for the future. The mere fact that a few Kiwis with wanderlust could travel from the North to the South can be taken as a sign for a more unified and cooperative future. It certainly wasn’t possible before.
You can check out the full 16 minute VICE documentary here:
Wondering if you might have your own North Korean adventure?
A North Korean motorcycle adventure, and in fact any travel in the country, is not for beginners or the uninformed. This is for those adventurers who have already levelled up and know how to behave and adapt in unusual situations; you need to be educated on current issues and prepared for what the trip will involve. The best way to travel North Korea is always with an organised and official tour.
A good place to start your research, which offers up-to-date information, is the official Gov.uk Foreign Travel Guide to North Korea: gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/north-korea
If you’re more generally interested in adventure motorcycling holidays, check out our piece on specialist travel agents in the UK:
Twin Wheel Adventures’ top adventure holiday organisers for trips a little closer to home.