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Doh! Airline Lands in Pyongyang, North Korea Instead of Pyeongchang, China by accident

Dude. Don't land in the DPRK by mistake, unless you're willing to spend 6 months as a "guest."


April 18, 2017

Members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team gesture as they prepare to check in with former NBA star Dennis Rodman, not in the photo, at the departure hall of Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. Dennis Rodman,

It is at its heart, a tale of two cities. Eight Corporate sponsors of the 2017 Winter Olympics were flying to the South Korean city of PyeongChang. But the pilot put the plane down in North Korean capital Pyongyang by mistake, only to be greeted by armed men and grim questions.

The Embraer Brazilian jet was carrying eight passengers from Beijing to Pyeongchang, but landed instead in PyongYang, which after all sounds rather like PyongChang.

With the aid of a translator, the pilot said he was sorry. Like, 1000 times, in several different languages. The passengers were told to disembark while their luggage was inspected. Women cried, men gasped,

"We stopped on the tarmac. The pilot announced the error. We were petrified about what might happen," one of the delegation said later.

"He told us to stay seated, stay calm. A cabin steward popped the door open and we could see armed men in uniform facing the plane."

According to the Around the Rings website the pilot of the corporate jet made a mistake when he entered the flight plan into the aircraft's navigation system. The Wall Street Journal reported in April 2015, that many people confuse the two names.

Bemused flight control staff at the North Korean capital allowed the Gulfstream and its passengers to land before the plane was ushered to a remote part of the airport.

After inspecting the collection of Olympic badges, which were intended to be delivered to PyeongChang, the North Koreans were satisfied that the landing was completely inadvertent and the plane was allowed to carry on to South Korea.

The story broke on April Fool's Day, and in an obscure newswebsite. But the Guardian Newspaper is reporting it as news, and it does appear to be true.

In fairness to the North Koreans, we would probably not have acted much differently if a North Korean jet had landed at LAX. And they let the plane go within hours.

Pyongyang International Airport, also known as the Sunan international airport, is the main airport serving Pyongyang, capital of North Korea. It is located in the city's Sunan District

Air Koryo, the DPRK's only airline, is searching for new aircraft to add to its fleet. The new planes would be Russian-made, given the existence of sanctions from the US (where Boeing is located) and the EU (where Airbus is located). Air Koryo is considering the Ilyushin Il-96 and Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft. The Tupolev Tu-204s are capable of flying to Moscow non-stop.

DPRK Dear Leader Kim Jong Eun greets dignitaries at PyongYang Airport

Air Koryo have also installed LCD screens in their Tu-204s which now show safety demonstrations and films. Moreover, Air Koryo has purchased new airport low-floor buses

Rights to enter the EU airspace using certain aircraft were granted by the EU authorities in April 2010, after a 7-year period of being banned from EU airspace. In April 2011, Air Koryo launched its first services to Malaysia with the inauguration of flights from Pyongyang to Kuala Lumpur. The flights operate twice a week with Tu-204 aircraft. Along with the new services to Kuala Lumpur, Air Koryo has also inaugurated links to Kuwait City operated weekly.

In October 2012, the airline launched its first online booking service. On the first quarter of 2013, Air Koryo had received their first Antonov An-148 aircraft, and their second on the final quarter of 2013.


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