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Daring to Travel To North Korea? 7 Things To Keep In Mind

Taedong River, Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korea? Oh, yes, I know you what you are thinking right now. There is no denying the fact that North Korea is pretty infamous for what it does. While it is certainly one of the most despised dictatorships in the world, it is not really the worst place to travel because it does have many great places to see.

While it has quite a few places to visit, you cannot really underestimate North Korea. It is a highly remote country so you would not hear much about it in travel guides. But, that does not mean that there is nothing about it.

Since we are already on the topic of North Korea, I am thinking of talking about a few things which should be kept in mind when or before traveling to North Korea. There are plenty of points to remember, but I have compiled the most important ones.

Here are 7 things to keep in mind for your North Korean visit:

  1. Just Cash
    This is 2019, and all of us have more or less transitioned to cashless transactions. North Korea has not. So, if you are planning to drain out money from your credit or debit cards, you can’t. There are no ATMs as well as credit cards which can be used for transactions in the country. The country only accepts a select few currencies including US dollars, North Korean Won and Euros.
    You must carry as much cash as you can—on that point, there is no limit to how much cash you can carry in the country.

    Pyongyang, North Korea
  2. Items You Must Not Carry
    North Korea prohibits carrying a few items into the country. These items are political publication, travel guides (Yeah!), obscene material, and religious publication.
    Also, you must not believe when they say that you cannot carry cell phones to the country. The prohibition on mobile phones was lifted in 2013, though there still are a lot of restrictions imposed on the type of SIM card and the kind of calls you can make.

    North Korea
  3. Tour Guides Will Always Be There
    North Korea, as is quite commonly known, is under strict State surveillance. Your activities will always be monitored no matter where you are.
    Even if you have enrolled a travel agency, do not expect them to give you any privacy because the tour guides will always be there with you. Also, you will have to do everything your guide tells you to do unless you want to run into trouble—and this can be really expensive for you here in North Korea.
  4. Mind Your Words
    North Korean Government runs a 24×7 propaganda, and it sure does have many loyal followers. Due to its self-induced detachment from the rest of the world, the State-sponsored ideologies run deep. So, you should know that you have to keep your thoughts to yourself if they are not in alignment with that of the political leadership and its people.
    If at all you want to say anything, give compliments. Curb your critical self and release it only after you have left the territory for good!
  5. What You Can and Cannot Capture
    Photography is generally allowed throughout travel, but you will most definitely come across moments when the tour guide will ask you to not take pictures. There are certain areas such as military establishments which are off-limits so do not take pictures of them.
    If you think that censorship ends here, you are wrong. Even when leaving North Korea your mobile phones and camera will be checked to ensure that you are only carrying ‘appropriate’ pictures along with you.

    Kangwon Province, North Korea
  6. No South Korean Music
    Are you are a great fan of BTS or, in general, South Korean music? Well, listen well. North Korea and South Korea have a history; and while there is a peace agreement between them, they are technically at war. Expectedly, the North Korean establishment has placed prohibitions on certain things from South Korea—one of them include music.
    You must not bring South Korean music here. You might end up in prison if you do. This rule applies equally to South Korean movies and dramas. So, for your own sake, do not bring the best of Lee Min-Ho’s collection.
  7. Internet
    North Korea has its own national intranet service called Kwangmyong which started in 2000. The content offered is restricted and mainstream websites such as Facebook will not run on it.
    Only a select few government officials and tourists are given access to use global internet services in the country. Kwangmyong, thus, is the only available internet service to locals.
    You will not get Wi-Fi in the country, except in a few selected locations. You can send emails using the hotel’s email id, which will cost you money. Or, you can use the Internet after getting plans from SIM card providers
    Taedong River, Pyongyang, North Korea
    .

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Ayushi Kushwaha
Ayushi Kushwaha, Fashion + Travel writer at CEOWORLD magazine.
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