North Korea is probably the most unlikely but compelling country you’ll ever visit.
It is one of those places in the world where even the most hardcore travellers find themselves signing up for a package tour. This is because while it has opened its doors to visitors for several years now, it remained a closed and hard-line country where tourists are under serious scrutiny.
So, if you’re off to conquer North Korea, remember the following to avoid any problem:
Get an Official Tour Guide and a Driver
It does not matter if you are a seasoned traveller. In NoKor, experience does not count. Visiting the country alone without a tour guide and a driver can be regarded by the North Korean security personnel as espionage. So, better be safe than sorry.
Do NOT bring any religious items or political paraphernalia
Bringing any item with religious or political message or representation is a bad idea. Jeffrey Fowle, a 56-year-old maintenance worker and a father of three from Ohio, spent six months in North Korean detention center for bringing a Bible. He was charged for committing “hostile acts” against the country. But because he admitted guilt and requested forgiveness, the charges against him were never formally filed and he avoided trial.
Be Careful with Using Your Camera
While you will be allowed to take pictures, don’t do so indiscriminately. Sneaking photos and closed ups of people without their permission, especially taking photos of soldiers and scenes of poverty, can get you in trouble. Even what would seem to be day-to-day harmless scenes may cause a problem. So to be safe, always ask your tour guide for approval to take pictures.
Bow to Statues Your Guide Tells You To
There are some statues which visitors are required to bow, and these include the statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. Even if you don’t agree with it or don’t understand why you have to do so, just comply anyway. You won’t be jailed or punished if you don’t, but your guide will be.
Photos by: Clay Gilliland, Chris Yarzab, Tom, (stephan)