Harrowing tale by Kenyan who landed in North Korea instead of South
A Kenyan has described the harrowing experience of landing in North Korea instead of South Korea after confusing Pyeongchang for Pyongyang.
Daniel Olomae Ole Sapit, 42, told the Wall Street Journal how he spent hours trying to convince immigration officers in North Korea that he had confused the two cities.
Mr Sapit had been invited to attend a United Nations conference on biodiversity in Pyeongchang in South Korea late 2014; Pyongyang is the capital city of North.
While South Korea is largely capitalist democracy which is allied to the West, the North is an authoritarian communist regime.
The WSJ reports that Mr Sapit was eventually escorted on a flight back to China—and on to South Korea having been fined Sh47,000 ($500).
“Pyongyang and Pyeongchang,” Mr Sapit told WSJ. “For an African, who can tell the difference?”
Mr Sapit’s story is being used by South Korea to enlighten sports fans who will be travelling Pyeongchang for the 2018 Olympics.
Shenaz Neky, the travel agent in Nairobi who helped book the tickets for Mr Sapit told the WSJ that she was only given the name of the final destination, Pyeongchang, and that the reservation system linked her with the closest match, Pyongyang.
“This was the first time I’ve done a booking to North Korea,” Ms Neky told the WSJ in a phone interview.
“The name of the towns are very similar. Apparently it’s a mistake that is very commonly made.”