The strange RULES for traveling in NORTH KOREA

A journey into the most totalitarian state of our time

Traveling is something you have inside, whether you like it or not. These days, however, finding someone who doesn’t want to pack up and run away seems impossible. The beauty of planning a vacation is traveling with the imagination, even before booking something. You think you want to discover cultures, find unimaginable places, go to the other side of the world. But what would it be like if the journey becomes an experience of pure terror?

The strange RULES for traveling in NORTH KOREA

No, we are not talking about going to some amusement park, any horror attraction, or even some slightly dangerous adventure. We rather think about what a journey into the most totalitarian state of our time would be like. Here are all the absurdities you need to know before thinking about having an experience in North Korea, without being too afraid.

# Travel planning: almost inaccessible information (until 2013 only for the capital)

Let’s start by saying that finding information on North Korea is almost impossible. There are no direct flights into the state, neither from Italy nor from almost any other country in the world. The easiest thing to do is to go to China and look for a flight from there, preferably on a group trip. If we then mention the destinations that can be visited, these too are very difficult to think about. Until 2013, the only “tourist” city in North Korea was the capital Pyongyang. Over time other areas became known, namely those in the south of the country, on the border with the other Korea, and some areas further north.

# Arrival: delivery of the passport

Once you manage to have access to the country, past the border, you are searched and stripped of your belongings (telephone, PC). Also of your identity, metaphorically but also literally, as even your passport is taken away from you. All these goods are returned at the end of the stay in the country. Once you arrive in North Korea, you find yourself completely alone and cut off from the world. Here, remember, there is no connection.

# Traveling around North Korea, never alone

The visit to the city starts. Here tourists are constantly accompanied by a guide, present at all hours. He also checks that visitors do not come into contact with the local inhabitants. In addition to the guide, you are usually accompanied by a photographer, sent directly by the propaganda department. He verifies that the photos taken are suitable, otherwise he makes sure that they are deleted. It is absolutely forbidden to photograph anything that makes North Korea look like a poor state! If you go around the city then the streets are almost empty. In every corner there are images and statues of the great leaders, in front of which visitors must absolutely kneel.

# The feeling of being watched

corea del nord. Credits:

In North Korea you will necessarily have the feeling of being observed. As if someone was following you throughout your stay. Someone besides the guide and the photographer who already do so. It won’t be just a feeling, it will be just like that. Among the absurd facts that happened to tourists in North Korea, we heard of those who were watching television and magically the channel changed. Or of those who found themselves unable to leave their hotel for some strange reason. And then there is that strange kindness that is perceived towards you: inhabitants who smile at tourists but are expressionless in front of anything else. Tourist guides who categorically prohibit doing something, but always with a smile. Always with that attitude of someone flattering you, not commanding you.

LORENZO ZUCCHI (Original article by Beatrice Barazzetti)

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Statistician, writer, amateur photographer, radio speaker. Born in Parma, lives in Milanese for almost 20 years. He’s a great lover of travel, minimalist photography, architecture and urban planning. Extreme dreamer, barefooter, out of the schemes, he dreams about ​​a world federation of city states. His main achievement would be to get rid of retrograde implications in today’s society. Favorite quote: Real life is for those who can't do any better