North Korea Reopens Pyongyang Marathon to Foreigners

Had closed borders due to Ebola fears

The Pyongyang Marathon in 2014. North Korea started allowing foreign runners to participate in 2000. (Uri Tours North Korea/Flickr)
Photo: Uri Tours North Korea/Flickr

After shutting its borders to foreign runners in October for fear of the Ebola virus, North Korea will reportedly allow overseas entrants into a marathon in the capital city of Pyongyang in April, Reuters reports.

Troy Collings, manager of China-based Young Pioneer Tours, told Reuters that he had talked to the company’s North Korean partners who were in discussions with the marathon committee to reopen the race to foreign runners. “It looks like we’ll be able to have our groups join the race as planned,” he said. “We’re still awaiting full confirmation, which should come in a couple of days.”

Two other companies, Uri Tours and Koryo Tours, also told Reuters that they had received similar information, and Koryo is in the process of re-booking runners who had signed up for the marathon.

The Ebola outbreak originated in West Africa, and despite its fears, North Korea has had no reported case of the virus. According to a memo obtained by Reuters from North Korean officials, tourists from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa—like Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia—are still banned from entering the country. And all tourists, no matter where they are traveling from, must undergo medical and temperature checks and sign a statement saying they have not recently traveled to any Ebola-affected areas.

The marathon, officially known as the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, was opened to foreign recreational runners for the first time last year, the AP reports. A statement on the Uri Tours website said that registration has been extended to March 20 for the April 12 run.

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