Inside Air Koryo’s new Tupolev

UPDATE: from Simon:

There’s no way that the suggestions [below] are the way that the passport popped up on screen, that isn’t how the application process works. Is it not more likely that they have a little scanner at the check-in desk and that’s how it popped up? Also when you run the magnetic strip of a passport though the passport control machines doesn’t this contain a picture of the passport that comes up on the screen? Anyway whichever way it is, it isn’t from a scanned copy of the passport being sent in advance, this isn’t how it works.

The new plane is indeed much better than the old ones, they show a movie (same one in both directions) currently it is Order-027 which has plenty of fights and is a reasonable film, nervous flyers like myself will probably not love the part where a helicopter explodes while the plane descends!

I read some report that said that the plane was bought reasonably cheaply due to poor sales of the model, also Air Koryo is a company run for profit after all (even if it doesn’t make any, subsidising airlines would hardly be unique to NK, who pays for any new planes for major airlines then?), so those funds would have been what paid for it most likely.

BTW the food on the Beijing – Pyongyang leg of the flight is still the same but they have reverted back to the ‘Koryo Burger’ that was much loved/hated previously, this time though the bun is vastly enlarged meaning that you have to bite through about 2 inches of bread on either side of the burger to get to it, as before, about 50% of passengers didn’t bother with it (burger at 9AM is a bit early for some)

ORIGINAL POST: A recent visitor to North Korea (Stephan) posted a set of photos on flickr.com.  Normally I am not impressed with North Korea tourist photos, but in this case, I was pleased because they are the first I have seen of the inside of Air Koryo’s new Tupolev.

airkoryotupolev.jpg
Click on image to see larger version at flickr.

Veterans of Air Koryo’s older planes are familiar with the on-board speaker announcement welcoming visitors to the Juche paradise led by the Great Leader, Kim Jong Il.  Now travelers can expect a professional video!

The food looks the same.

In true communist fashion, there is still a business class section.

And for the intelligence coup…below is a photo of North Korea’s (new?) passport control system.  It appears to be Windows-based.  It also appears that there is a database and ethernet (?) connection between the North Korean embassy in Beijing, the Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang, and Sunan Airport.  I draw this conclusion because it seems like the passport control officer in the photo is looking at a digital scan of the passport ID page.  This means the image was probably captured when the visa was issued in Beijing and it was sent to a central database to be pulled up when it the passport is scanned.  Anyone have a better idea?

UPDATE: according to the photographer, he delivered a scan of his passport to KITC (Korea International Travel Company) in Beijing.  KITC probably sent the image via email to the DPRK embassy.  So what kind of wire network connects the DPRK embassy in Beijing with the Foreign Ministry/Sunan Airport back home?  I would like to think there is a dedicated/encrypted line, or satellite feed (rented from China), but I would not be surprised if the DPRK embassy just emails the images to someone back in Pyongyang who puts them on an internal network.

dprkpassportcontrol.jpg
Click on image for larger version

(hat tip to benms)

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6 Responses to “Inside Air Koryo’s new Tupolev”

  1. Stephan says:

    Hi Curtis,

    thanks for the link to my photostream. I was happy we got to fly the new Air Koryo plane this time. It lacks the flair of the old ones – but it does feel a lot safer 😉

    Regarding the software at the airport: I’m sure you’re right about them having some sort of intranet connection between the airport and Beijing. We never handed them our passports before entering the country. We emailed scans of them to the KITC (Ryohaengsa) office in Beijing and they had them up on the screen…

    cheers,

    -Stephan

  2. NKeconWatch says:

    Thanks for the pictures and comments, Stephan.

    Best of luck,

    C

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  5. Simon says:

    There’s no way that the suggestions above are the way that th passport popped up on screen, that isn’t how the application process works, is it not more likely that they have a little scanner at the check-in desk and that’s how it popped up? also when you run the magnetic strip of a passport though the passport control machines doesn’t this contain a picture of the passport that comes up on the screen? anyway whichever way it is, it isn’t from a scanned copy of the passport being sent in advance, this isn’t how it works.
    The new plane is indeed much better than the old ones, they show a movie (same one in both directions) currently it is Order-027 which has plenty of fights and is a reasonable film, nervous flyers like myself will probably not love the part where a helicopter explodes while the plane descends!
    I read some report that said that the plane was bought reasonably cheaply due to poor sales of the model, also Air Koryo is a company run for profit after all (even if it doesn’t make any, subsidising airlines would hardly be unique to NK, who pays for any new planes for major airlines then?), so those funds would have been what paid for it most likely.
    BTW the food on the Beijing – Pyongyang leg of the flight is still the same but they have reverted back to the ‘Koryo Burger’ that was much loved/hated previously, this time though the bun is vastly enlarged meaning that you have to bite through about 2 inches of bread on either side of the burger to get to it, as before, about 50% of passengers didn’t bother with it (burger at 9AM is a bit early for some)

  6. […] North Korean Economy Watch » Blog Archive » Inside Air Koryo’s new Tupolev […]