A daring trip to an iron curtain country
This edition is very special. Why? In this edition, the writer writes for those daring travellers who are not afraid of facing serious troubles to quench their desire to explore. By now, you might have understood that what the writer introduces in this edition is not an ordinary country.
The United States is considered as the world’s most powerful country. After the disintegration of the erstwhile Soviet Union, the US has emerged as the sole world power. But, one country has dared to challenge the US hegemony. It is the only country towards which the Americans have never showed its coercive attitude. That country is none other than North Korea.
Does North Korea encourage tourism? It is better to answer the aforesaid question with a counter-question: do you feel your trip as a risky and adventurous one when you are supported and guided by everyone you find during the trip.
Traditionally, North Korea is not friendly to the tourism industry. To this, it is important to add that for the last few years the North has been removing several tight knots which have damaged the tourism sector. In fact, it is a welcoming move.
Notably, unlike other countries, there are no private tour companies in this country. The entire tourism operations are handled by a hand full of state-owned tour companies that function under the North Korean communist government. The Korean International Travel Company, Korean International Sports Travel Company, and Korean International Youth Travel Company are some of them. Those who travel to North Korea have no other option, but to rely on these agencies.
Noteworthy, there are no restrictions for anyone, except South Koreans, to visit North Korea. Nevertheless, there are allegations that often journalists are denied entry to the country.
To enter the country, it is important to receive the blue travel paper of the North Korean government. The authorities stamp this document at the entry point, not the passport or visa. This document is the authorised travel document and identity document of every traveller, as long as he/she stays in the country. No traveller is supposed to visit any location which is not specified in his/her blue travel paper. It is pertinent to remember that North Korea is very less tolerant to the violation of its rules and regulations.
Despite these regulations and restrictions, North Korea has been witnessing a steady increase in the number of travellers reach the country every year for last few years. It is the curiosity fact that plays a huge role in that consistent increase. If something is kept far away from the limit you can freely access, you will naturally feel an urge to get close to it due to the curiosity factor that works inside you. The same is what prompts many travel enthusiasts to put this country, which has nothing significant to boast of, in their bucket list.
Do you know that this country is still in the state of war with its neighbour South Korea? Actually, the Korean Armistice Agreement that brought peace to the peninsula of Korea several decades ago did not stop the war completely, but only paused briefly. Technically, South Korea and North Korea is in the state of war between each other.
It was the Imperial Japan’s annexation of Korean peninsula that brought the first serious disaster to the part of the world. Subsequently, the crisis intensified when the allied power liberated the peninsula from Japan as one of the member of allies, Soviet Union, decided to support the formation of a communist regime in the northern part of the peninsula and another important allied power United States backed the creation of a capitalist regime in the southern region. Later, the crisis further worsened when North Korea used force to ascertain its dominance in the peninsula. Though the war did not last more than a few years technically, it created irrevocable damages physically and mentally.
The sad reality is that still the peninsula has not moved much from where the Korean War has pushed them into.
If the possibilities and opportunities created by the progressive sector of tourism help heal the wounds caused due to the wars and all those that followed the wars, it can be called as the magic medicine that can be prescribed to bring back the lost glory of any land.
Panmunjom, Myohyang-san, Tower of Juche Idea, Kim II-sung Square, Mangyongdae Residence of Kim II Sung, The Pyongyang Metro, Koryo Museum, USS Pueblo, Chollima Statue, and the Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang are the top tourist attractions in the country.
Panmunjom is an abandoned village located in the middle of North Korea and South Korea. It is where the famous Armistice Agreement was signed. The Armistice Talks Hall is the most famous tourist site located in this region.
Myohyang-san is a sacred mountain where the forefather of the Korean people King Tangun was born. It is in this mountain the International Friendship Exhibition Centre is located.
Another important attraction of this country is the Tower of Juche Idea. This structure is different from all structures erected in the dictatorship era. The reason is that it represents an ideology, named Juche –the ideology introduced by the beloved leader of North Korea Kim II-Sung. It is important to note that there is no ideology that defines the North Korean version of autarky, self-reliance, nationalism and traditionalism better than this ideology.
Kim II-sung Square is another important structure erected in the country. It is a very large square, notably one among the thirty largest squares.
Mangyongdae Residence of Kim II Sung is one of the top tourist attractions in the country. It is where the most beloved leader of North Koreans spent his childhood.
It is advised to visit the Pyongyang Metro to understand how advanced the Koreans are in the area of technology. The metro is regarded as the most valuable wealth of the capital of the communist dictatorial country Pyongyang.
No traveller wishes to miss the chance to visit Koryo Museum. It was once the cultural and educational centre of the peninsula. In the museum, there are many valuables, which are capable to give a deep insight about the rich culture of the peninsula.
Only American ship which is under captivity at this moment is USS Pueblo. North Korean is the one which captured it. Now, the ship functions as a museum in the country. It also draws several travellers every year.
If there is something that truly represents the spirit of Koreans, it is Chollima Statue, the statue that depicts a mythical house which is powerful enough to cover hundreds of kilometres in one day.
North Koreans are very pound of their country and their resistance towards the, so called, imperialism, particularly the resistance against the ancient Japanese imperialist and modern western imperialists. The Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang is one of the structures that clearly show how proud the Koreans are about their resistance. It is the world’s tallest triumph arch ever built in the world.
North Korea is entirely different from the image it is given outside this country. If you get a chance to get close to North Korea, you may change many notions about this country.
Don’t miss any chance to visit this country!!!