Tag Archives: Typhoon Bolaven

Still No Good

28 Aug

At 4 PM the day before our flight, Seoul Public Schools canceled the next day’s classes in anticipation of Typhoon Bolaven. We knew our 8:10 AM flight to Beijing would be in jeopardy of being delayed or cancelled. When we were commuting to the airport as the sunlight was creeping over the horizon, however, we felt quite confident that we were in the clear. We were certain our flight to Beijing would depart on time.

Nine hours later we left the airport. The North Korea leg of the trip was over for us before it even began. After the bridges from Incheon to Seoul were reopened, we took the train back into Seoul defeated.

The most frustrating thing about the cancellation of our flight was that it never felt as if the typhoon ever reached Incheon. Every airline that had flights leaving before 9:00 AM got their planes off the ground and to their destinations except one, China Southern, our airline. At 8:10 AM we looked out the airport windows, watching planes zoom down the runway and into the sky. The sun even made brief appearances through the cloud cover. That only made it worse.


A flight leaving from Incheon airport just after 8:10 AM.

Since the other airlines were still sending their planes into the air, we decided we should just buy a flight on one of them, so we could make it to Beijing by 1:05 PM to make our flight to Pyongyang and catch our tour. Unfortunately, all the other flights to Beijing were booked until the next day

We got Alan on the phone and tried to see if we could catch up with the tour the following day. He went to the tour headquarters in Beijing and tried to get some answers for us. The next phone call we got was from Simon, one of the tour organizers, saying that we could catch up with the tour in two days time if we caught a flight to Beijing tomorrow and circumvented Chinese law (you can only stay in an airport in China for 24 hours without a visa; we would have had to be there for 26). Also, we would need to acquire an emergency Chinese visa in Pyongyang for our flight to Nepal for reasons more complicated than they need to be. We needed some time to think through our options, but we didn’t have any. Simon told us we had to make the decision immediately. The flight from Beijing to Pyongyang had been pushed ahead one hour. It now left at 12:05 PM. We backed out, abandoning Alan and our chances to see North Korea.

Shortly after, our friend, Judy, called Eric. The bridges connecting Seoul to Incheon were being closed. We were stuck in the airport with no flight and no ability to get back to Seoul for at least a few hours. We looked out the windows. Rays of sunshine taunted us as they flashed through the clouds.

Alan would get to see behind the curtains of North Korea. We would not. It’s often said you have to take the bad with the good. We’re still looking for the good.

-Dane and Eric


The sky over Incheon when our cancelled China Southern flight was supposed to take off.

28 Aug

The sky over Incheon when our cancelled China Southern flight was supposed to take off.

Every other airline allowed flights to depart at 8:10 AM except for China Southern.