LAST UPDATE, 09:00 a.m. April 18, Seoul time: JS151 arrived at Beijing around 20:30 p.m. April 17.
UPDATE, 19:00 p.m. Seoul time: Visitors are boarding now, almost 12 hours later, NK News team in Pyongyang said.
UPDATE, 17:54 p.m. Seoul time: Russian Embassy in Pyongyang released the statement around 17:00 p.m. Pyongyang time, saying their citizens are stranded at the same airport, with no official explanation provided from the DPRK side.
UPDATE, 16:43 p.m. Seoul time: as of 16:00 p.m. Pyongyang time, there was still no sign of departure, NK News team in Pyongyang said.
NK News and other journalists are currently stuck in Pyongyang International Airport with no end in sight.
North Korea’s Air Koryo JS151, the flight the visiting press delegation were supposed to take, was originally scheduled to depart from Pyongyang to Beijing at 08:30 a.m. Monday.
However, passengers are currently being told to stay in the airport.
“This delay is not being explained at all, with no end in sight,” said NK News managing director Chad O’Carroll, who is currently stuck in Pyongyang International Airport with foreign journalists from CBC, CBS, LA Times, Russia 24, and others.
“DPRK airspace may be closed,” he added.
The three NK News journalists and the others were on their way back from Pyongyang after finishing a close to week-long visit to cover the 105th birth anniversary event of Kim Il Sung and the military parade which followed.
“The weird thing is that like ten to 15 percent of the passengers were all checked in, they went through the security, and while we were doing that… then the security just said check-ins closed.”
All the rest of the passengers lined up to check in flight JS151 were not allowed to go through, O’Carroll added.
“So, we are now in airside of the terminal, with the majority of the passengers still on the landside.”
Long delays at Pyongyang airport do occasionally happen, said Simon Cockerell, general manager of the Koryo Tours company, who is currently in-country with a group of tourists.
“They are not that common though,” he said. “To have a several hour delay on flights going to different locations is something remarkable and that I haven’t seen before.”
During a phone call, without further explaining the reason for the delay, the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) urged NK News to contact the Air Koryo office in China.
The Air Koryo office in Beijing said that the delay was being caused by bad weather, with a local airport security officer being overheard telling a tourist that the delay was due to “rain clouds” in the North Korean capital.
At the time of publication, however, weather in Pyongyang appears relatively clear.
“We are doing our best. Soon, the flight should be rescheduled sometime before 12:00 p.m. local (Beijing) time,” the official from the Beijing office of Air Koryo told NK News.
However, during a phone call with NK News around 11:55 a.m. Beijing time, the same Air Koryo official said “the plane is still delayed,” and that they had been “informed that it would last until 16:00 p.m.”
The flight information provided by BCIA showed that 238 airplanes have arrived at the airport between 09:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on Monday.
Seven were delayed, with Air Koryo’s JS151 being the only international flight delayed, according to the data.
July last year, the same Air Koryo plane was forced to land after a fire on board.
Featured Image: NK News