What Is There To See In North Korea

North Korea is one of the most isolated and secretive countries in the world. Despite international sanctions and limited access, tourists from all around the world are drawn to its rugged landscape, exotic culture and national monuments. Here are some of the things to see and do in North Korea:

Mount Paektu

Mount Paektu is one of the most sacred mountains in North Korea. It is the highest peak in the Korean peninsula, standing at 2,750m. The mountain is believed to be the birthplace of the mythological founder of the Korean nation. It is an important religious site for the North Korean people, and is a popular tourist attraction. Mount Paektu is known for its spectacular landscapes and views, and hiking trails are available for tourists to explore the area.

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is the mausoleum of the North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. The complex is located in the capital city of Pyongyang and is the final resting place for the two famous figures, as well as the leader Kim Jong Un. It is one of the more striking places to visit in North Korea and features regimented guards and salutes, symbolic flags and statues of the three leaders. Visitors must adhere to strict dress codes and cannot take photographs inside.

The Demilitarized Zone

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a strip of land that divides North and South Korea. It was a result of the Korean War and is marked by a 236km long fence that stretches across the border. The DMZ is the most heavily mined area in the world and is the last remaining Cold War relic. A trip to the DMZ will take visitors to the peace village of Panmunjon and give them a firsthand look at the tension between North and South Korea.


Pyongyang is the vibrant capital of North Korea and it is the seat of the government. The city is full of life, with its wide boulevards, imposing skyscrapers, ancient monuments and bustling markets. It is the perfect place for tourists to explore North Korean culture, architecture and cuisine. The main sites of interest in Pyongyang include Korean Central History Museum, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, Juche Tower and Kim Il Sung Square.

Kaesong and DMZ Museum

Kaesong is an ancient city located near the DMZ. It is a popular tourist destination and is known for its vibrant culture, ancient monuments and stunning landscapes. Kaesong is also home to the DMZ Museum, which is a fascinating look at the history and legacy of the Korea conflict. Visitors can learn about the history of the Korean War, the reunification effort, and gain a better understanding of the complex relationship between the two Koreas.

Arch of Reunification

The Arch of Reunification is a monument that symbolizes the desire for peace and reunification between North and South Korea. Located in Pyongyang, the arch stands 60m tall and features two colossal figures embracing each other. It is a peaceful monument that serves as a reminder of the long-standing divide between the two countries and the hope for their future reunification.

Sea of Friendship Park

The Sea of Friendship Park is a beautiful park located on the east coast of North Korea. It is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, offering spectacular views of the surrounding coastline. The park features a statue of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, a children’s amusement park, and numerous sculptures depicting scenes from Korean folklore and legends.

International Friendship Exhibition

The International Friendship Exhibition is a massive complex located in Myohyangsan Provincial Park. It houses over 30,000 gifts given to North Korean leaders by officials from all around the world. These gifts range from exotic artwork to elaborate jewelry and include gifts from the likes of Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro and Muammar Gaddafi. Visitors can explore the grandiose halls and marvel at the unique items on display.

Archaeological Sites

North Korea is home to numerous archaeological sites, including tombs, old fortresses and ancient settlements. The most famous of these is the Seokguram Grotto, which is an ancient Buddhist temple complex that stands atop Mt. Toham. The grotto is a UNESCO world heritage site and is considered to be one of the most beautiful pieces of Buddhist art in the world. Other archaeological sites of interest include the Rinsong Fortress and the Phungsan-sa Temple.

Korean War Sites

North Korea was at the epicenter of the Korean War, a conflict that raged from 1950 to 1953. North Korea celebrates the war as a victory and has preserved numerous sites of strategic importance as a testament to their resilience and courage. Some of the more well-known war sites include the Punch Bowl, Haeju Fortress and P’anmŭnjŏm. Visiting these sites will offer tourists a better understanding of North Korea’s tumultuous history.

Mangyongdae Funfair

The Mangyongdae Funfair is one of the largest amusement complexes in North Korea. It is located near Pyongyang and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The funfair offers a variety of rides, including Ferris wheels, water slides, bumper cars, roller coasters and a haunted house. The complex also has a zoo, a swimming pool and a theater where performances are held.

Spectacular Landscapes and Beaches

North Korea is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. The rugged mountain ranges and pristine beaches are a sight to behold. Popular landscape destinations include Takrim Beach, Myohyangsan Provincial Park, Kumgangsan Mountains and the DMZ. The country also boasts some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world including Namsan Falls, Sinhung Falls and Chonsung Falls.

Kim Il Sung Square

Kim Il Sung Square is the main square in Pyongyang, located in the heart of the city. It is the site of numerous military parades and official government ceremonies such as the Arirang Mass Games. The square is usually filled with locals on weekends, and it offers tourists a great opportunity to observe the daily life of North Koreans.

Public Parks

North Korea has a plethora of public parks and open spaces for locals and tourists to enjoy. Some of the more famous parks include the Kaeson Youth Park, Moran Hill and Pyongyang Central Park. These parks offer a more relaxed atmosphere and are great for just strolling around and taking in the sights.

Cuisine and Dining

North Korean cuisine is unique and differs from its southern counterpart. Popular dishes include kimchi, a spicy fermented dish made from vegetables, and bibimbap, a rice dish usually served with vegetables, meat or seafood. Pyongyang has a range of restaurants and eateries offering tourists a taste of authentic North Korean cuisine. Soju, a popular alcoholic beverage, is widely available in the country and can be found in numerous bars and restaurants.

Gift Shopping

North Korea has a flourishing gift shop scene and tourists can pick up some truly unique souvenirs. Popular gifts include Koryo insam, a ginseng-based health tonic, traditional pottery and bamboo basket weaving. Shopping in North Korea is an experience in itself, as the busy markets offer a sneak peek into the lives of ordinary North Koreans.

Participatory Activities

North Korea also offers plenty of participatory activities for tourists to experience. Rafting and kayaking along the Yalu and Taedong Rivers are popular amongst tourists. International Marathon and soccer tournaments are held each year, and tourists can join in to experience the traditional North Korean sports culture. Horseback riding is also becoming increasingly popular, and visitors can ride across the serene countryside for a more immersive look at North Korean life.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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