I’ve been to a lot of different places throughout the world, and none of them have elicited such an emotional response from people when I inform them that I just returned from North Korea.
Some people have been really interested, while others appear confused. Some individuals find it amusing, others think I’m joking, and yet others consider it preposterous for me to claim I went to North Korea.
When I tell people about my amazing time in North Korea and how it’s one of the best trips ever, their reactions are priceless. Utter disbelief is commonplace, but I would happily go back again.
It’s sometimes difficult to enjoy a trip to North Korea while simultaneously expressing support for the current regime. Some people appear to be confused on this issue. I did not believe I was putting my life in danger. Rather, it felt like one of the safest places I had been to when there.
1. There are many fascinating tourist destinations in North Korea.
North Korea is full of interesting attractions, making it a must-see destination for anyone who loves to travel.
Pyongyang, the country’s capital and largest city, is a fascinating destination. There are so many monuments, great squares, and magnificent buildings in the city. We were able to visit their most important statues, museums, as well as the Juche Tower, which is 120 meters tall.
Not only does North Korea present different sights than what you may be used to, but visiting everyday places like department stores, parks, and the subway can feel like a tourist attraction in itself! Everything is interesting because it’s so different from home—and even when it’s familiar, that unfamiliarity makes it intriguing.
With all the demonizing of North Korea in the media, it’s easy to forget that this is still a country populated by normal people.
There’s also a chance to see the DMZ, which is the border with South Korea (not that there are two Koreas in North Korea; it’s all Korea). I’ve already written about this when I visited from the south side. It was, without a doubt, the most amazing travel experience I’d ever had until I went to North Korea. It’s even more special because you’re visiting it from the other side.
2. Visiting North Korea is like stepping into a time machine.
I’ve never felt like I’ve been transported back in time. People used to talk about going backward in time when I went to Burma, but that is nothing compared to North Korea.
This place looks like it hasn’t changed since the Cold War 50 years ago. At times, I felt like I was in an old Disney movie, like when I took the hotel lift and there was man pressing the buttons in a full on uniform including hat and gloves.
I felt as if I was watching a scene straight out of a Hollywood film rather than witnessing it in person.
3. North Korea is a fascinating subject.
To put it another way, life in North Korea is unlike life anywhere else on the planet (or anything else I’ve seen). The first thing is propaganda. There appeared to be a never-ending supply of murals and banners. However, most of them had a clear military theme to them.
The people are much more fascinating. They are, to begin with, all well-dressed and well-groomed. People wear suits or formal clothing instead of their own. I spent a lot of time searching through bus and train windows, and everyone looked immaculate.
The fourth trait to look for in a good puppy is how eager and obedient they are. When crossing the road, every individual would get off their bike and walk it over. Every single person.
This was the case with everything- people always following the rules perfectly whenever we were around. Obviously, this made for a very dull society.
The final reason I found it so fascinating is that there’s always a question about what’s real and what’s not.
Tours to North Korea always have Korean tour guides, except in the hotel or on the train. All elements of the trip are organized and set-up prior to your arrival.
It’s difficult to decipher which experiences are real and put-on. For example, when we saw hundreds of people partaking in synchronous dancing, it didn’t seem genuine. But would they go through all that bother for the sake of 30 tourists? Even if it was fake, their dedication is fascinating.
I felt as if I were in The Truman Show, expecting the same people to walk by me multiple times.I tried memorizing faces to see if they were truly real or part of the set up, but I couldn’t tell for sure.
4. It is simple to go to North Korea.
What might come as a surprise is that you can easily visit North Korea by simply taking a tour. I did just that–I signed up, paid the fee, filled out some paperwork, and it was all set. It’s worth noting that the 795 Euro price tag wasn’t even expensive.
Typically, you must first visit Beijing. Trains and flights are available from here. Other possibilities exist, but this is the one that Western tourists will most frequently use. South Koreans are not permitted to enter (unless they have a different passport) , whereas other nationalities can do so.
If you’re looking for a great company to travel with, I highly recommend Young Pioneer Tours.
5. There’s a very small chance of being a victim of crime.
I felt no anxiety as soon as I set foot in North Korea. My worry about something terrible happening to me once I got there vanished. As long as the nation did not go to war and I did not act stupidly against their rules or laws, I had nothing to be concerned about.
I didn’t have to be concerned about pickpockets, my hotel room being robbed, or becoming mugged while I was in North Korea. When you go to North Korea, the chance of becoming a crime victim is very small.