North Korea has decided to allow tourism and is opening the door to the country, albeit just a crack.
If you’ve ever wanted to visit North Korea but were afraid of having to illegally slip into the country and end up getting caught and accused of being a spy since you’re obviously not from the tiny reclusive country, now’s your time.
With Pyongyang’s recent decision, tourists can visit the city’s 70+ parks, sparkling clean waterfalls and forests, mountains, and wide open boulevards in the capital that are all but empty, save for a lonely police officer controlling traffic that does not exist.
But when you come, leave your smartphones, cell phones, cameras, email, wifi hotspots, voice recorders, along with any other technology behind; it’s prohibited. And don’t talk to the locals, that is punishable by 5 years in a North Korean prison and a stiff fine payable in cash.
However, you won’t be totally bored while in your government-approved hotel room (that you must pay for in cash upfront), you can choose from either of the two TV channels to watch during the week, and if you visit during the weekend you’ll enjoy a bonus, a third channel that plays old Chinese movies.
Don’t bother looking for Starbucks, Target, Best Buy or even a car dealership. Instead, you can visit the government-selected library in the mornings before 10 a.m., that’s when locals can start to come in. You can borrow a book for a fee, plus deposit, also payable in cash.
Aside from the politics, North Korea is a relatively unexplored and eco-healthy nation, since it has failed to utilize or capitalize on its resources. You are allowed to travel to any one of eight designated locations around the capital, and four in the surrounding countryside, so there is definitely a selection of things to see and do.
But in your wanderings, don’t accidentally get way off course and approach the Chinese border, that is a capital offense in some cases. The beaches can be cold and lonely but are unspoiled and there is a lot of wildlife.
To enter, you will need to fly to Seoul, South Korea and go to the North Korea sort-of consulate and get advanced permission to be a tourist and pay a fee, also in cash. You can also enter from the Heilongjiang province of China, just across the border, but only if you’re a Chinese business owner wanting to invest in North Korea.
FYI, all cash payments must be in either American dollars or Euros, however, the Ministry of Interior Tourism has said they prefer American dollars.