Inside North Korea’s Air Koryo

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With North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il gone, here’s a look at how one of the country’s state-owned businesses — one that was frequently viewed by the outside world — was run during his time.

It’s Air Koryo, and it’s the only airline in the world deemed bad enough to earn a 1-star rating from leading airline reviewer SkyTrax.

Why? Customers cited the strange experience on the flights, which include cordial but distant attendants, propaganda newspapers and state music. Oh, and then there’s the food, which reviewers say is anywhere between mediocre and nearly inedible.

Will things change now for Air Koryo now that North Korea’s in different hands?

We’ll have to wait and see, but for tourists heading into the country to see it with their own eyes, Air Koryo is one of the few airlines that actually goes to Pyongyang. Its fleet of Russian-made planes fly out of Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, and has flights to China, Russia and a few European countries, according to the Centre of Aviation.

Mark Fahey, a biomedical engineer from Australia, flew to Pyongyang on the notorious airline and put up some pictures on Flickr. Here’s what he, and a few others that decided to whip out their cameras while on other flights into the closed nation, saw on their trips.

Air Koryo is NOT quality approved, and has 1-star general ratings almost across the board from Skytrax

Below is an Air Koryo Ilyushin Il-62 P-885, a version of the Il-62 that was originally designed in the 1960s. II-62’s have had 10 accidents since 1989, though only two were fatal


The safety instructions, in both English and Korean

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