Travelling in North Korea – 2014
During my time in North Korea I visited the capital, Pyongyang, and a number of other locations (see below) including Sinuiju on the northern border with China. Sinuiju has only recently opened to overseas tourists (excluding those from the USA and South Korea).
There is no such thing as independent travel in North Korea. All travel is as part of a group (which can be one) and you will be accompanied by a minimum of two guides and a driver at all times.
For many years, I have had more than a superficial interest in North Korea. Some of my lingering questions on the country were answered during my visit, some former opinions and impressions have changed but overall I have come away with more questions than I had when I arrived.
Between my general entries and my location specific entries on this blog I have attempted to present a fair picture of what I saw and heard in North Korea and add a bit of levity here and there to what otherwise might be very serious blog entries.
The image presented in this blog is not a balanced picture of North Korea but rather, as I have just said, a picture of what I saw and heard. Make no mistake about it, what you see and hear in North Korea is exactly as the Government wish you to see and hear – it is pro-North Korean and anti-American, in particular.
A lot of the views, etc presented in my entries are contested outside North Korea and the alternative view can be readily found on the net and elsewhere. There are two sides to most stories.
That said, the guides we had were the most wonderful and charming people you could meet. They held their views very strongly but were not out to ‘convert’ anyone to their cause and likewise you should not go to North Korea to ‘convert’ North Koreans to your cause. Should you visit, go to engage and you will enjoy your trip and learn from it as everyone, without exception, in our group did. Our group was about one third American.
While I think I have succeeded in keeping my own political view of things out of my blog entries I certainly did try hard, while there, to differentiate between fact, conjecture and fable. The outcome of that differentiation is best reserved for a chat over a glass of good red.
While there are rules and restrictions on travel to and within North Korea my trip was a fantastic experience which I hope to repeat in the not to distant future.
If you haven’t been to North Korea I hope my blog entries here will inspire a visit to this remarkable country. If you have been, enjoy my take on the country – whether you agree with my musings or not.
Guide to my North Korea Blog Entries
If you would like to read about my visit to North Korea in a logical (at least to me) order, I suggest the following approach.
Start with my North Korea – General category (you are there !) entries and read then in the order linked at the bottom of each entry – starting with the link at the bottom of this one. After that continue on to my specific location categories in the order listed below, starting with the capital, Pyongyang.
All location entries are linked as ‘tours’ – Travel Loops. While sights, etc are, in the main, presented in the sequence that I visited them this is not always the case. This is especially so with Pyongyang as while we went into and out off it on a number of occasions I have presented it as if all sights were visited in one sitting.
I trust you enjoy reading my North Korean entries as much as I have enjoyed writing them.
What to call the Country?
North Korea is an abbreviated (and not one accepted within the country) version of the country’s officially recognised and pretty much universally accepted name – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the DPRK).
While the USA seems to accept the official long form name of the country it uses North Korea as a short form. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade use DPRK as a short form.
Within the country it is referred to as Korea in the short form and the area covered by both long and short form titles, within the country, is the full Korean Peninsula, the southern part of which is currently and temporarily occupied by foreign imperialistic forces.
In my entries I have used whichever term I felt like at the time of writing and nothing should be drawn from what name I have used.
This blog entry is the first in a group (loop) of entries providing general and background information on The Rambling Wombat’s trip to, and travelling in, North Korea which I recommend you read in a particular order. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Getting into the North Korea – By Air.