Indeed, we are, four months on.
The news on Monday that the Pyongyang Marathon was cancelled came as a shock to some of us. It is certainly terrible for the tourism industry: that event was to anchor their biggest week of the year, since there is no Arirang performance in 2015.
However, maybe its not as bad as it seems? As Koryo Tours put it: "It is still unclear when the borders will be reopened, but we were also advised not to cancel our March tours, and to expect an update on the border situation at the end of February. If you are booked on any of our tours in March or April then please do not hesitate to get in touch."
We've heard similar advice about our late March and April programmes. The Pyongyang rumour mill (and its extensions in Beijing, Dandong, Yanji and elsewhere) clearly thinks that quarantine will be lifted or adapted in the coming weeks. The questions are:
-Are the rumours true?
-If so, when exactly is the change coming?
The answers remain: "we don't know".
For CE this uncertainty has been damaging, though not on the scale it has been for the tour companies. We lost significant funding from a donor who needed to sponsor a project before the end of the fiscal year in March. Given that we have been unable to guarantee that March in-country programmes will go ahead, the funder had no choice by to reallocate the money.
We hope to execute the programme regardless and we are extremely grateful to have a team of workshop leaders who have a very flexible attitude towards this "stand-by for news" position we find ourselves in.
Fortunately, we have - despite the Ebola measures - been able to organise a study trip to Singapore. We'll see if participants in entrepreneurship training will also be participants in quarantine.