I stand corrected: Air Koryo planes are not made of bamboo

So last month, fresh out of detention in North Korea and noticeably high from the experience, I went on NPR and claimed, among some other rather dumb stuff, that “Air Koryo [the official North Korean airline] was literally made out of bamboo.”

Yes bold claim, especially with that underscored “literally.” And now an angry NPR listener has called me out on it.

I just returned from a trip to North Korea, traveling with Koryo Tours. We flew Air Koryo, the national airline, both directions, and it is not “literally held together with bamboo”. Our plane from Beijing to Pyongyang was a new Tupolev model airplane, cleaner than most planes I’ve been on recently in the US. Our flight out was on an older Ilyushin model aircraft, which was again clean and well-maintained. Both flights were right on time, and had good service.

After extensively research, and by that I mean Googling “Can I make a plane out of bamboo?” and coming up with zero hits, I’ve decided to issue a PUBLIC RETRACTION. That’s right.

I am officially backing down from my seditious statement that Air Koryo is a crappy airline. Heck, they even give you The Onion, North Korean edition The Pyongyang Times free of charge.