Thursday, October 12, 2006

Travel Advice for Tourists Visiting North Korea 
Fascinating stuff from a travel agency that specializes in North Korean tours.

Please be aware that whist we do the utmost for our tourists it is also important not to put our guides in danger. They are under very strict regulations as to what they can and cannot do and this is not negotiable. For example; you are not free to wander around on your own, there are photographic restrictions and video cameras are not allowed in through customs. The main problem is with journalists who have tried to enter the DPRK with us but without informing us of their status. This has led to two serious instances which put our guides in danger. We therefore ask all journalists to notify us of their position so we can suggest other alternatives.

We cannot risk putting the guides in serious danger and it is therefore only advisable visiting the DPRK if you can tolerate the following points:

In the DPRK you will be under close scrutiny from the guides and security. Use of cameras causes the majority of problems. You can only take a photograph of what the guides allow. The public are obliged to report all photography. Taking photos of soldiers, at check points, poverty, sneaked photos and close ups of people without their express permission will cause serious problems. Photography when being driven around is also restricted. Even what we would interpret as 'day to day' harmless scenes may cause problems. It is too easy to get carried away and think that it is not causing offence or would not put the guides in danger. This is not the case and therefore we ask our tourists to take a very responsible attitude even though it may mean missing the photographic opportunity. If the group gets the confidence of the guides you will have amazing opportunities for photography and you will miss out on very little. You cannot take lens over 150 mm into DPRK.

Leaving the hotel without the guides or the guides' express permission is not possible. If you are feeling the need for 'a breath of air' then a casual stroll along the river is possible but only if accompanied with a guide. It is possible to stroll in the grounds of the hotel but please ask the guide and do not take your camera.

We are 'invited' to the DPRK and therefore we ask our tourists to respect the Koreans and their vision of the Great Leader- this involves bowing at the 20 metre statue on Mansudae and on various other occasions. Chewing gum/sweets and wearing scruffy clothing in places of Korean national importance (Mansudae statue to Kim Il Sung/Friendship Exhibition/and Manyongdae birthplace of Kim Il Sung in particular) will offend guides.

In all these instances it is the guides that get into trouble and not you. We cannot risk putting the guides in danger. If you are happy just to be taken around the 'system' with all the diatribe and trimmings, then you will have the most amazing experience. If any of the above poses a problem it is advisable not to visit the DPRK as we have too many experiences of seeing guides put in serious trouble by tourists who are not aware of their actions.

Italics in original.

It's very easy to forget the millions of people in North Korea trying to live out their lives as best they can.

Splash, out


I saw Lisa Ling on Fox News today - she was able to go to DPRK "undercover" as a medical coordinator with a doctor that goes there to operate on people with cateracts. She managed to take pictures, and she been talking about her experience - sounds a lot like what you posted....
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