Why We’re Going to North Korea

24 Apr

Edit: This was originally written a few weeks ago before we got stuck behind the Chinese firewall. Since then, we’ve made the trip successfully and have a lot to share with you.


What? You’re going to North Korea? For reals?

Those are the questions that everyone asks when they hear we are going to visit NK as part of our trip around the world. After confirming that yes indeed we are going, the responses usually fall into two categories:
There’s no way in hell I’d do that.
I didn’t know you could go. Tell me more!

For those of you in the camp of option 2, this one’s for you.

I’ve always been fascinated with North Korea. As an American, we obviously hear things about NK that are biased and part propaganda (see: axis of evil). And we all know that NK leadership has perpetuated lies and stories about the US that are untrue. The NK government has created a mindset in its citizens that is so communistic and unique that isn’t to be found anywhere else in the world. In short, it’s the opposite of America.

For anyone who’s googled images of NK, you see some of the more interesting pictures in the world. The Ryugyong hotel. Wide open streets in Pyongyang with not a single car driving in it. The world’s deepest subway. The mass games. Those are some of the things we hope to see while we are there. We also planned to visit during the 100th birthday celebration of Kim Il Sung (April 15, 2012). I just found out that tourists won’t be able to witness one of those iconic communist military parades of tanks and rockets rolling down the street, but there will be plenty of other cool things to see. In addition, the NK government has announced they will be launching a “satellite” on the 15th, which will be pretty exciting as well.

I started doing research on NK several years ago on a whim. I stumbled on the koryo tours website and was hooked. After many emails back and forth with their tour guides and management, I was satisfied that not only were their tours safe and legit, they were safe for Americans. All of their tours are tightly controlled and tour guides are with you 24/7; you can’t even leave the hotel for a walk in the evening. Koryo has been running tours from Beijing to NK for decades, and they have taken several hundred Americans over the years without incident. Jeannie and I are going to be two more on the exclusive list of Americans who have visited Pyongyang (by choice). And if we happen to get stuck for some reason, there’s always Bill Clinton to bail us out (see: Laura Ling).


One Response to “Why We’re Going to North Korea”

  1. Rosalyn April 26, 2012 at 8:15 AM #

    I admire your intellectual curiosity, interest in all peoples of the world and your thorough planning.

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