Why Can T You Go To North Korea


Visiting North Korea is something that most individuals would never imagine doing. The appeal of seeing this controversial country is fascinating and yet, even after many years without significant changes in the public attitude and approach towards tourism, it is still not possible to visit North Korea. As fascinating and culturally interesting as it may appear, there are many complex, intricate and severe reasons why the government of North Korea has kept it closed off from the outside world.

Rigid Nature of the Government

The government of North Korea is a regime that is known for its extreme policies. It is a state where citizens are not free to express themselves and cannot independently travel, having to obtain a permit if they want to leave their home city. Travelling and exploring beyond their borders is strictly forbidden and only the wealthiest individuals can gain access to what constitutes the “elite circle” in the country. Given the current economic and political instability, it is understandable why a regime like this would not want to welcome foreign visitors.

Economic Dependency on the Elite

When considering the potential benefit of opening up its borders to tourists, many North Korean citizens are more concerned about the possible corruption that could result. Tourists in North Korea are likely to be wealthy, and North Korean citizens will therefore have access to a large pool of money that is not controlled by the government. With the elite class in control of the North Korean economy, any money circulating within the country outside the elite would begin to erode the buying power of the elite, which could have an adverse impact on their influence.

Cultural Differences

The cultural differences between North Korea and other countries are numerous and deeply ingrained in the national identity. The North Korean regime has a degree of control over media and culture which has resulted in a regimented society where only one way of life exists. Tourists may embody a different culture from North Korea, which could cause destabilization within the nation as foreign influences may indirectly affect the way North Koreans think and act.

Political Conflicts

Political conflicts are another factor in explaining why North Korea does not allow foreign visitors. The US and South Korea regard North Korea as a hostile state, and the US has put many sanctions on the country in order to limit their influence. North Korean officials would be unwilling to welcome visitors that could be seen as spies, or who may potentially be a propaganda force.

Violence and Unrest

North Korea has a reputation for violence, with multiple reports of human rights abuses and public executions. North Korea is not a safe place to visit and the government is known to make foreign visitors suffer the same injustices as their citizens. This can make it a very dangerous place to visit and contribute to the fact that most hotels in the country are guarded with military personnel.

Security Issues

The Government of North Korea is highly centralised and structured around an absolute leader. It also has an extremely active security service, with many agents and informants at the borders. It is very difficult for anyone to enter or exit the country undetected and anyone who attempts to visit the country may be deported, or even worse, arrested. The risks associated with entering North Korea are a major reason why most individuals avoid attempting to visit the country.

Financial Burden

Another factor in why people cannot visit North Korea is the high cost associated with doing so. Travel to North Korea requires special government permission and includes being accompanied by a government-approved guide. This alone can cost hundreds of dollars, and there are other fees associated with visas and access to certain restricted areas of the country. In addition, the cost of living in North Korea is significantly more expensive than in other countries, with food and housing costs being higher than in many third world countries.

Filtration of News and Information

North Korea has a highly censored media, and they have been known to carefully control the information that the public receives. They have been known to edit and fabricate news to suit the narrative of the government, and visitors may be restricted from discussing sensitive topics and topics that may go against the government’s views. This can be dangerous for foreign visitors, as discussing sensitive topics or voicing one’s opinion on the government can put one at risk of arrest or punishment.


Visiting North Korea is not something that many individuals would ever consider, given the numerous reasons why it is not considered a safe place to visit. There are many reasons why North Korea has kept its borders closed off, including the rigid nature of the government, economic dependency on the elite, cultural differences, political conflicts, violence and unrest, security issues, financial burden and the filtration of news and information. Despite its mysterious and alluring nature, the harsh realities of the situation make it unfeasible to visit North Korea.

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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