Foreign Journalists Stranded in North Korea Amid Unexplained Flight Delays
(RT) North Korea’s state-owned airline Air Koryo delayed its flights from Pyongyang to Russia and China without explanation. Foreign journalists were among those stranded in the airport, NK News reported.
Flights to Vladivostok, Beijing, and Shenyang were delayed on Monday, with airline authorities failing to provide a reason.
The Russian embassy posted an announcement on Facebook that Air Koryo had delayed the flights while providing “no rational basis for the delays.”
“Over 30 Russian nationals are waiting at [the] departure lounge,” the announcement states, adding that diplomats are monitoring the situation.
“We strive to get an update from the DPRK [North Korean] Foreign Ministry and air service and demand that Russian citizens take their flights on designated routes,” the Facebook post continues.
Meanwhile, NK News reported that some of its journalists, along with other foreign reporters, are among those who are scheduled to travel on Air Koryo Flight JS 151 to Beijing. Other affected journalists include those from CBC, CBS, the LA Times, and Russia 24.
The journalists were in North Korea to cover the 105th birthday event of former leader Kim Il-sung and the military parade that followed.
“This delay is not being explained at all, with no end in sight,” NK News managing director Chad O’Carroll said. “DPRK airspace may be closed.”
O’Carroll went on to state that around 10 to 15 percent of the passengers for the Beijing flight had already checked in and gone through security, but others were told that check-in was closed before they could proceed.
“So, we are now in airside of the terminal, with the majority of the passengers still on the landside,” O’Carroll said.
In addition, a domestic North Korean flight from Uiju to Pyongyang was also delayed.
The Air Koryo office in Beijing said the delays were being caused by bad weather, with NK News reporting that a local airport security officer was overheard telling a tourist that it was due to “rain clouds” in Pyongyang.
However, weather in Pyongyang appeared to be clear on Monday. The airline official in Beijing initially said the flight “should be rescheduled sometime before 12pm” local time, but that time came and went. The official later said the delay would “last until 4pm” local time.
NK News later reported that "visitors" were boarding the Beijing flight, almost 12 hours after it was originally scheduled to depart. It remained unclear whether the journalists were also entering the aircraft.
The flight to Vladivostok also eventually took off, a source from the city's airport told RIA Novosti, adding that it landed at 11:57am GMT on Monday.
Air Koryo, headquartered at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport, operates flights to 23 destinations in Asia.