Travel to North Korea – Episode 361

categories: asia travel
north korea mass participation games


Hear about travel to North Korea as the Amateur Traveler talks to Matt from England about his recent trip to this closed and insular country. This may be one of the most unusual episodes of the Amateur Traveler as this may be one of the more unusual countries we have covered. The country was included in George W. Bush’s list of “the axis of evil”. While Matt will make a case that you absolutely should visit North Korea we will talk about some of the ethical considerations as well as some of the reasons you may not want to actually move to North Korea.

You can only visit North Korea on a tour and your itinerary will be very structured. Everywhere you go you will see monuments to Kim Jong-Un, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il the son, father and grandfather dynasty that have ruled this country since 1912. You will also find that the supreme leader has opinions about everything you do, including how you take pictures on your trip. Crop that picture of one particular golden statue so that you don’t get the entire statue and you might get all your photos deleted when guards review your photos as you exit the country.

Matt visited the capital Pyongyang where people have to have specific dispensation to live, where everyone has a portrait of the supreme leader in their apartment and where someone has the job to make sure those portraits are displayed, level and dusted.

The highlight of the trip for Matt was the Mass Participation Games which are a “socialist realism extravaganza”. Before your trip Matt recommends you watch the documentary A State of Mind about the country and about the games in particular.




right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)

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Show Notes

Matt from England
North Korea Travel Advice
Pyongyang
Inside North Korea: The Nation Under Isolation
North Korea Film Studio
Arirang Mass Games

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

5 Responses to “Travel to North Korea – Episode 361”

Tristan

Says:

This was a fascinating interview. What a crazy place. I have two question:
 
1) What is the tour organization that Matt traveled with? Do they have a website?
2) Are Americans allowed on these trips?

davidnjoku

Says:

This is quite possibly my favourite episode ever (and I’ve been a guest on a previous show!). Your guest was very engaging and very balanced in presenting his experiences in North Korea; most of what we hear about that country is ridiculous propaganda – from both sides.  I’ve always wanted to go see the country for myself; this episode has strengthened that desire.

MattfromEngland

Says:

Thanks for the positive feedback. We travelled with http://www.koreakonsult.com/index_eng.html and yes US citizens are welcome to visit. Happy travels.

sonchyADV

Says:

I agree this was a great interview. As well I feel Matt’s energy and descriptions were fantastic. I know we try to keep politics out of these posts, but I feel it is essential to remember  North Korea is a dictator ship. Google is just now recognizing  the prison camps on maps, people are starving and the rights for a citizen are appalling.  If you have time read the new book “Camp 14” to get another perspective. Tourism is so important even in North Korea since it is one of the only outlets for people to meet outsiders.  I am not sure though if the huge amount of money North Korea makes from tourism balances the small impact it has socially. Great interview and I don’t chastise, but like Burma this is not a destination I can see myself visiting any time soon. Thanks for the great interview Chris and Matt!

Pawel Piejko

Says:

As much as I love travelling (as well as this podcast), I think bragging about supporting a cruel communist regime with such a huge amount is irresponsible.

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