North Korea is an isolated, reclusive nation located in the eastern part of the Korean Peninsula, bordered by China, Russia and South Korea. It has been ruled by the Kim family dynasty since 1948 and is now headed by Kim Jong-un. The government of North Korea is extremely restrictive, with citizens having limited access to the internet, international media, or independent travel. It is one of the most secretive countries in the world and is known for its oppressive human rights record and nuclear weapons program.
Access to North Korea
Despite the apparent secrecy of North Korea, there are still ways to visit the country. Some citizens may be able to access North Korea via their own government-approved travels, while certain foreign citizens may also be able to visit as part of an organized tour. It is extremely difficult, however, for an average person to get a visa to North Korea and travel there independently due to a variety of bureaucratic, safety and security concerns.
Reasons You Can’t Visit North Korea
There are a number of reasons why it is practically impossible to visit North Korea. One of the major reasons is the prohibitively strict visa restrictions. The government of North Korea only allows in a few hundred foreign visitors annually, and even then not for all purposes. Business, humanitarian, and religious visits are usually well-controlled, and other forms of travel are generally banned. Additionally, citizens of certain countries, such as South Korea, are not allowed to visit North Korea.
The other major reason why it is so difficult to visit North Korea is its secretive and oppressive government. Over the years the North Korean regime has become increasingly paranoid, repressive, and isolated from the rest of the world. This has led to a growing list of restrictions on foreign visitors, making it almost impossible to get into the country without a special permit.
North Korea has a dismal human rights record and is known for its harsh censorship laws. Travelers to North Korea are expected to follow the laws rigidly, which includes adhering to the country’s strict censorship policies. Even small offenses can lead to hefty fines and even imprisonment, making it highly risky to visit North Korea. Finally, North Korea has a large presence of military personnel, making tourism an unattractive prospect for many.
Many experts infer that the difficulty of accessing North Korea is largely due to the country’s ongoing diplomatic tensions with its neighbors. For example, the South Korean government has been extremely critical of North Korea in the past and has restricted the movement of people between the two countries, further adding to the difficulty of visiting North Korea.
Other experts point to the recent nuclear weapons tests conducted by North Korea as another barrier to travel. These tests have resulted in stringent economic sanctions imposed by the international community, making it even more difficult to enter the country. The fear of nuclear war has also had an impact on North Korea’s tourism industry and it is likely that these tensions will continue to discourage people from visiting the country.
Finally, there is the safety aspect. North Korea is an unpredictable and dangerous place to visit, and there have been several cases of foreign visitors being detained or arrested for minor offenses. For this reason, many travelers hesitate to visit the country, resulting in an environment less conducive to tourism.
Analysis and Insights
If there ever was a time for the isolation of North Korea to change, it would likely be now. With the recent summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump in Singapore, the country’s diplomatic relations with the rest of the world seem to be slightly more positive. However, it is not clear if the country has any plans to open up its borders and become more accessible to the outside world.
The difficulty of accessing North Korea is a complex issue, with the government’s strict visa rules, oppressive government, and poor human rights record all contributing to its isolation. It would take a monumental shift in policy for North Korea to become more accessible for tourism, and it seems highly unlikely that this will happen in the near future. Until then, it is likely that North Korea will remain closed to foreign visitors.
North Korean Tourism
Though travel to North Korea is very restricted, tourism to the country does exist. Despite the strict government, many visitors report a positive experience, and there has been a significant uptake in legal tourism to the country since 2018. For example, a record 6,000 tourists visited North Korea in the first quarter of 2019.
The most popular tourist attractions in North Korea are primarily spots along the capital of Pyongyang, such as the Monument to Party Foundation and the Mausoleum of Kim Il-sung. There are also a few places to explore outside the capital, such as the ancient city of Kaesong, the mountains of Kumgangsan, the beach at Wonsan, and the historic pagodas at Myohyangsan.
While travel restrictions and safety concerns still remain a concern for many, there are ways to visit North Korea legally, with a number of tour companies offering guided trips that comply with North Korean regulations. These tours tend to be well-organized, educational and informational, and can provide a fascinating glimpse into the culture and history of this isolated nation.
North Korean Media
Due to the secretive nature of the North Korean government, gaining insight into its culture and day-to-day life can be quite difficult. Access to independent media is heavily restricted, and there is a significant lack of information on the country. Fortunately, some North Korean media such as documentaries, films, and TV programs are accessible to the outside world, allowing outsiders to better understand the nation.
Although most North Korean media is heavily censored and propaganda-laden, there are still some interesting stories and perspectives to be gleaned. For example, many of the films produced in North Korea focus on the greatness of the nation and portray a positive image of daily life. Others provide a different point of view, and there are even a few films that depict the struggles of everyday citizens.
In addition to films and TV shows, North Korea also produces its own books and magazines. These publications often provide a detailed insight into the country’s politics and culture, and many are surprisingly interesting and informative. While it is not easy to access these publications, if you do manage to find some, they can be a great way to gain a better understanding of North Korea.
North Korean Technology
Though North Korea is a highly secretive state and typically lags behind the rest of the world in terms of technology and innovation, the country does have a few impressive accomplishments. One of the most notable is the country’s space program, which has seen them develop their own satellite launch vehicles, several of which have been successfully launched. Additionally, North Korea has developed their own nuclear weapons, which have had a significant impact on the region’s security.
When it comes to technology, North Korea is still largely out of step with the rest of the world. The country is heavily reliant on outdated technology, most notably the flip phone, which is still widely used by its citizens. Additionally, the internet is heavily restricted and monitored, and access to the global web is heavily limited. As such, the technology landscape in North Korea is heavily censored and severely outdated.
Despite this, some progress is being made. North Korea is slowly opening up to the outside world, and the introduction of 3G mobile technology in the country has allowed its citizens to access unprecedented levels of communication and information.
North Korean Cuisine
When it comes to cuisine, North Korea is an interesting mix of traditional and modern foods. The nation’s main staple ingredients are rice, kimchi, beef, pork, and seafood, which are all heavily featured in the country’s dishes. Additionally, North Korea also boasts its own unique dishes, such as the famous Pyongyang naengmyeon noodle dish, which is served cold.
Although North Korean cuisine can be quite limited in variety, there are some restaurants in Pyongyang that serve a wider range of dishes. These establishments tend to be quite expensive, and only available to the wealthy. For the average North Korean, however, simple dishes such as bibimbap and japchae are much more commonly eaten.
Regardless of its scarcity, North Korea does have an interesting culinary tradition. While it is not as well-known as other Asian cuisines, North Korean food has its own unique flavor and style that is worth trying if you ever have the chance.