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North Korea travel safety advice


North Korea travel safety advice

Travel Warning

WARNING: Under no circumstances whatsoever are you to say something that could be perceived as an insult to Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Un, Juche, or the North Korean people or government. Simply avoid the topic if you can. Keep in mind that anyone can be an undercover officer or an informant. You and your guide are likely to face serious trouble but your guide will bear the worst. "In trouble" does not mean a slap on the wrist. North Korea is known for extremely harsh punishments which range (for the guides) from lengthy prison sentences to a lifetime of severe mistreatment, hard labour, and probable torture in the gulags, while you are likely to be sentenced to a stay in a local prison or labour camp, deported, and banned from re-entering. Assume that you will be under surveillance at all times during your trip including your hotel room.

Crime levels are practically zero, at least to tourists on a strictly controlled tour. However, pickpockets are the least of your worries. The authorities are very touchy, and you need to watch what you say and how you say it. Just do what the guides do, praise every stop on your tour, and remember the rule, "If you have nothing good to say, don't say it at all." Also, the official policy is that you are not to wander around on your own. You are expected to get permission and/or have a guide accompany you if you are leaving your hotel on your own. This will vary depending on what hotel you are in. The Yanggakdo Hotel is on an island in the middle of the Taedong River in Pyongyang. Therefore you can walk around the area a little more freely than if you are at the Koryo Hotel right in the center of town. You should always be friendly and courteous to your guides and driver who will normally reciprocate by trusting you more and giving you more freedom. For taking photographs, one needs to exercise restraint, caution and common sense. If you appear to be looking for negative images of North Korea, the guides will not be happy and will tell you to delete any questionable images. In particular, you are not to take photos of anything military, including personnel, or anything showing the DPRK in a bad light. Try to recognize a good photo opportunity, raise your camera at a reasonable speed, compose and take the picture, and lower the camera at a reasonable speed. Try not to spend overly long times composing a perfect masterpiece, or make fast, or furtive motions. This will only call attention to yourself and the image you are trying to take and can result, whether justified or not, in your being told to delete the image. Digital cameras are commonly inspected when leaving the country. A simple workaround is to leave a memory card with innocuous snaps in the camera and file away any cards with ideologically dubious content. Drug trafficking can be punishable by death in North Korea.

The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about North Korea


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North Korea Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.

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