An empty flight, a deserted airport, a scary balcony, and a digital detox: ex-A-League striker Harry Sawyer gives FTBL the inside story to an eye-opening three days in Pyongyang for an AFC Cup playoff.
Last Wednesday night, the 22-year-old former Roar and Jets forward played for his Hong Kong club Tai Po in an AFC Cup playoff first leg against North Korean outfit Ryomyong (who had defeated a Mongolian club to reach this playoff).
It meant from Monday to Thursday last week, the big Queenslander was based in Pyongyang.
The squad flew from Hong Kong to Beijing on Sunday, stayed overnight before flying 90 minutes to the North Korean capital on Monday ahead of the midweek first leg.
Here, the talented striker tells his story of those few days in the Hermit Kingdom.
Beijing to Pyongyang: room to stretch out
No-one really knew what to expect. Before we even went we had a meeting and we had some rules set up for us.
We weren't allowed to call it North Korea - it had to be DPR Korea - because the people there find it offensive if you say North Korea.
On the plan,e it was just us and the AFC match officials from Iran. That's it, no one else on the 90 minute flight with Air China from Beijing.
Our flight was the only flight landing at their Pyongyang airport on the day.
We flew in at around 4pm from Beijing. You could hear a coin drop in that airport when we landed. Just us, the match officials and their security staff - these were the only people in the airport.
Even though it was just us at the airport it still took about 45 minutes to an hour to get through. It seemed a long process. They checked our bags our phones and checked any publishing that we had.
I took David Beckham's book and they had a good check of that to see there was no propaganda in it. They were very thorough. If we had anything from America or any sensitive information, it would not have got through.
I wouldn't say it was a good experience at the airport, but it was different.
We walked out of an empty airport and onto our bus which was the only vehicle at the airport car park.