In recent years, the question of “Can Filipino Travel To North Korea” has made its rounds on the Internet, with many people pondering its “can-or-can’t” answer. The answer is quite complex, as traveling to North Korea is quite different from a regular holiday overseas. As a Filipino tourist, you will find yourself coming up against a strict set of government regulations and travel restrictions that you must comply with. So, can Filipinos travel to North Korea? The simple answer is yes.
Foreigners have been allowed to visit North Korea since 2002. However, tourists from the Philippines may find it far more difficult to obtain permission from the North Korean government. Since foreign travel to North Korea is strictly regulated by the government, a valid reason must be given for wanting to enter the country. There are a number of reasons for why someone would want to visit North Korea, such as participating in scientific research projects, joining a cultural or sports delegation, or attending a specified event. Without one of these reasons, it is unlikely you will be granted permission.
If you wish to visit North Korea, your application must be submitted through a North Korean travel agency. It is likely you will be asked to provide detailed personal information, such as your passport data, employment details and contact information. Once approved, you will be provided with an officially stamped visa, which must be presented to North Korean immigration authorities on your arrival. You will also be required to purchase a group tour package.
When traveling to North Korea, you must abide by the country’s strict regulations. Since North Korea is a one-party state, it is important to respect and follow their rules. Tourists must adhere to a set of specific guidelines, including not taking photos of military installations or government officials, not using the internet and not advertising any political beliefs. Violating these rules can be taken very seriously, and could result in potential disciplinary action being taken, including arrest or detainment.
It is important to be mindful of the sensitivity of North Korean affairs and the potential danger of visiting the country. There are, however, opportunities to visit the country and witness the cultural legacy of North Korea. Many international tour groups offer guided tours of the area, giving visitors an insight into the country’s history and culture. Such tours must be booked in advance and may require substantial planning.
Exchanging foreign currency into the local North Korean currency, known as the ‘won’, can pose a bit of a challenge. Due to sanctions and tightly enforced economic control, foreign currencies are not officially accepted in the country, though some markets do offer the possibility of exchange. It is strongly recommended that the North Korean currency is used during visits to official tourist sites, as well as typical tourist outlets, restaurants and souvenir shops.
One way to take foreign currency into the country is to exchange it into Chinese yuan prior to departure. The Chinese yuan is accepted in many areas of North Korea, but it is best to consult a local money exchange for the most up-to-date information. It is also important to keep in mind that North Korean currency cannot be exchanged outside the country, and therefore should not be taken from the country (even as a souvenir).
It is, however, advisable to carry the local currency while traveling in the country, as credit and debit cards are not commonly accepted. Cash can be obtained at the Bank of Foreign Trade or at approved money exchange outlets located in the major cities.
Safety and Security
Travelling to North Korea is often viewed as risky and dangerous, but as long as visitors abide by the country’s regulations, they will be safe and secure. Whilst there, visitors must also take extra caution when it comes to personal safety. Theft is a common occurrence in major cities, so it is best to take essential precautionary measures. It is advisable to keep a close eye on items of value and to avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Tourists must also maintain a respectful attitude when visiting certain areas, such as military sites or monuments.
International travelers should also be aware of the embargoes that have been implemented by the United Nations Security Council. All goods, services and technology deemed to have dual-use applications are prohibited from entering the country, including medicines, informational technology systems and some scientific equipment. If a visitor is found to be in possession of prohibited items, they could face criminal charges.
It is also important to obtain adequate travel insurance and repatriation coverage before visiting North Korea. Emergency medical care is relatively rare in the country, and most health services are not up to modern standards, so tourists should ensure their health insurance is sufficient and covers their stay in North Korea.
Experience North Korea Responsibly
When boarding a plane for a destination abroad, it is essential for travelers to be aware of the risks and restrictions associated with the destination. Oftentimes, this requires researching the full array of spectrum to know what precautions to take. When it comes to visiting North Korea, the same is true. Even though the country is full of cultural richness and historical significance, travelers must keep personal health, safety, and overall well-being in mind.
When visiting foreign countries, especially those with unknown political or governmental practices, it is important to abide by local laws, be cautious with personal safety, and make sure that the right kind of travel documents and visas are in order. If you are one of the few that are able to obtain special permission to visit North Korea, then you must approach this unique opportunity responsibly.
Above all, it is essential to treat North Korea as any other foreign country. There is a certain level of respect that must be shown to local nationals and customs of the country. Visitors must also be aware of any type of open provocation or offensive behaviour. Tourists must recognize that North Korea can be a dangerous place for the unwary traveler and should take the required safety and security precautions to ensure a safe and successful visit.
Access to Technology
If you are looking to explore North Korea as a Filipino traveler, you will be drastically limited in your access to technology and internet. North Korea is well-known to be one of the few remainings states that has heavily restricted, controlled access to the internet, and all forms of communication are monitored. A majority of citizens are not even able to access the web and take full-advantage of the other forms of technology and digital opportunities that are available. There are very limited mobile phone plans available, but they are heavily regulated and monitored.
For Filipinos wishing to visit North Korea, it is almost certain that you will have limited access to the internet and other forms of technology. Generally, these forms of communication are completely blocked during the travelers’ stay, making it impossible to check emails, use any forms of social media, or even in some cases access a local SIM card for a more limited form of communication. Due to these strict laws, travelers must be patient with the lack of access and must not try to find any ways to bypass the rules.
It is especially important to note that any form of photography must be done responsibly. As a Filipino, you should be aware of the sensitive nature of the country and take all the necessary precautions when it comes to filming and photography, such as avoiding military installations, government officials and other sensitive sites.
Traveling to North Korea as a Filipino is a unique experience that should not be taken lightly. Working with North Korean travel agencies, obtaining a valid visa and adhering to the country’s rules and regulations is a must. When it comes to access to technology, there will be very limited (if any) possibility, and touring the country requires being mindful of the sensitive political affairs. Overall, if approached responsibly and in adherence to the set regulations, Filipino tourists can still experience a secure and enlightening trip to North Korea.