Facilities and Health Information
If you have medical problems, you should not travel to North Korea. For decades, medical facilities in the DPRK have suffered from a lack of resources and electricity. Medical personnel often have inadequate or outdated skills. Hospitals in Pyongyang can perform basic examinations and lifesaving measures, but functioning x-ray facilities are not generally available. If possible, avoid surgery. If you have an accident outside Pyongyang, transport back to the capital can be lengthy and without medical assistance. According to DPRK Customs, most prescription medication may be brought into the country with no restrictions. If you require regular medication, you should bring a sufficient amount for your personal use along with the doctor’s prescription, since most drugs are unavailable locally. Hospitals will expect immediate U.S. dollar cash payment for medical treatment. You cannot use credit cards or checks in the DPRK. Local DPRK hosts are often not aware of options available for medical evacuations and might claim that no such options exist. It is important to insist on immediate contact with the Embassy of Sweden if you have serious medical problems.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in North Korea.
Medical Evacuations: In the case of a critical illness or accident, immediately contact the Embassy of Sweden, which will attempt to arrange flight clearances for air ambulances performing emergency medical evacuations. Costs for medical air evacuation vary, but according to SOS International, an evacuation from Pyongyang to Beijing averages approximately USD 40,000 including medical personnel (1 doctor and 1 nurse), the aircraft, and clearance costs. The General Bureau of the Koryo Civil Aviation of the DPRK says that it provides around-the-clock service and that requests for air clearance will be granted within 24 hours. If a U.S. citizen with a medical emergency is in Pyongyang, the Embassy of Sweden can usually arrange a medical evacuation to Beijing in one day. If the patient is located outside Pyongyang, it will take longer. Medical evacuation by regularly scheduled airlines can be arranged, but very few flights operate from Pyongyang to Beijing (Air Koryo and Air China), Shenyang (Air Koryo), or Vladivostok (Air Koryo). Air Koryo flights go to Shanghai only on a charter basis in the tourist season (April-October). In order to transit China, Chinese visas for injured foreigners and any escorts must be obtained prior to the evacuation from North Korea. Even in the case of a medical emergency, transit visas may take several days to arrange. Evacuation across the DMZ to South Korea is not allowed.
Vaccinations: You should get all necessary vaccinations prior to traveling to North Korea. You can find information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC Internet site. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website. If you have special dietary requirements, you are advised to bring food with you to North Korea, as the restaurants available to foreigners have limited menus that lack variety and nutritional adequacy.
Companies that may be able to arrange evacuation services include, but are not limited to, those listed below. You may wish to contact these or other emergency medical assistance providers for information about their ability to provide medical evacuation insurance and/or assistance for travelers to North Korea.
International SOS ( www.internationalsos.com/en/ )
Telephone: (U.S.) (1-800) 468-5232
Telephone: (China) (86-10) 6462-9100, 6462-9112
Medex Assistance Corporation ( www.medexassist.com )
Telephone: (U.S.) (410) 453-6300 / 6301
Telephone: (Toll free within China) 10-8888-800-527-0218
Telephone: (China) (86-10) 6595-8510)
Telephone: (China) (86-10) 8315-1914.
Telephone: (Shenyang, Liaoning Province) (86-24) 24330678
Drinking Water Source - % of rural population improved
Drinking Water Source - % of total population unimproved
Drinking Water Source - % of urban population improved
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population
Sanitation Facility Access - % of total population unimproved
Sanitation Facility Access - % of urban population improved
Sanitation Facility Access - % of rural population improved