North Korea, a Southeast Asian country, is often in the news, however, mostly for the wrong reasons. Ironically, it still remains one of the most isolated nations in the world. Though many are familiar with the “war of words” between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, and NK missile launches that frequently appear on the front pages of newspapers; not many know much about the country’s culture, cuisine or way of life. With internet out of the reach of many people and the nation under the rule of a dictatorship, North Korea doesn’t really feature in the top tourist destinations.
But, is it really possible to take a trip to North Korea and return home unscathed? North Korea is a beautiful nation and if you take certain precautions, your trip to this mysterious country would be a memorable one. Dotted with magnificent cities, beautiful beaches, heritage sites, magnificent structures and monuments, North Korea is truly a traveler’s delight.
For any traveler, the first place that comes to mind is Pyongyang, the capital of the country. The city’s history dates back to many millennia and has also been the capital of ancient kingdoms such as Kojoson and Koguryo. The city is a wonderful blend of the ancient and the modern. Some of the attractions in Pyongyang are Chollima Statue, The Arch of Triumph, The Tower of Juche Idea, Kumsusan Palace of Sun, “Pueblo,” an armed spy ship of the U.S. Imperialists, Pyongyang Folklore Park, among others.
Mt. Kumgang is a heavenly destination for those seeking adventure and solitude at the same time. Comprising of some 12,000 peaks, the mountain is home to wonderful pools, amazing rocks and cascades. From the top of the mountain, you can get a stunning view of the sea. Covering an area of approximately 204 square miles, the mountain treasures many historical remains and legends.
The city of Kaesong is home to many historical sites such as the Taehungsan Fort, Songgyungwan Academy, The Kaesong Chomsongdae Observatory, among others which are also World Heritage Sites. Some other places worth visiting in the country are Mt. Myohyang, Mt. Paektu, Mt. Chilbo, and Nampho.
There is so much to explore in this serene country, but the thought of flying to North Korea can be intimidating, as we are fed with so much negative news. But if you follow the rules and do not get into any trouble, things would be fine. First of all, you just cannot fly off to the country on your own and wander from place to place just like you do in other countries. In North Korea, you would require a guided tour. Tour guides would always accompany you and would show you whatever the government wants you to see. In fact, any person can travel to North Korea, but the South Koreans and journalists may find it tough to visit the country. Earlier, there were restrictions on Americans visiting NK, but since 2010, the US citizens have been permitted to visit North Korea. But, following the incident where a 21-year-old American student named Otto Warmbier was arrested by the NK government, allegedly tortured, and later released but died upon returning to the US, many tour operators have stated that they would not take US citizens to NK as the risks are too high.
Though cameras and video are permitted, you cannot bring cameras that are fitted with GPS device. Further, there are certain rules to follow when taking pictures. You cannot click pictures in military sensitive areas including Panmunjom/DMZ.
For many, North Korea is a great place to visit and you would definitely come back refreshed and rejuvenated.
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