Kim Jong-Il, North Korea’s premier has passed-away leading to national grieving of his followers and worries in the international community about what North Korea’s next move may be. We thought that it would be interesting to have a look at a country that rarely allows access to outsiders as a possible travel destination should the new leader change the way that North Korea handles its international relations.
North Korea is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. North Korea has developed its own unique culture and is very different to its southern neighbour. Literature and arts in North Korea are state-controlled, mostly through the Propaganda and Agitation Department or the Culture and Arts Department of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party. This may put you off but the country does run a spring friendship arts festival annually and has had the New York Philharmonic Orchestra perform, although that was a to a hand-picked audience and I doubt you would be able to get on that list.
Another popular event is the Mass Games. This is an event which takes place six nights a week for two months, and involved over 100,000 performers. Attendees to this event in recent years report that the anti-West sentiments have been toned down compared to previous performances. The Mass Games involve performances of dance, gymnastics, and choreographic routines which celebrate the history of North Korea and the Workers’ Party Revolution. The Mass Games are held in Pyongyang at various venues (varying according to the scale of the Games in a particular year) including the Rungrado May Day Stadium, which is the largest stadium in the world with a capacity of 150,000 people.
You can have a look at the latest Mass Games in the video below.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea. And to some it’s considered a tourist attraction with people from the South travelling up to try and sneak a peek at their Northern neighbours. Obviously this is not an area to be messing about in and photos are restricted plus you probably do not want to cause an international incident on your holidays. You can also check out the propaganda town which is located near to the DMZ it is basically a Hollywood set made up to make it look like the North is thriving, they employ people to clean the streets and turn lights on and off to make it look like there are people in the city.
A look at the DMZ.
Very few people have reported from inside North Korea but I would highly recommend that you have a look at the Vice Magazine guide to North Korea. There is some amazing footage captured and gives you a feeling for how strange North Korea is. You can check it out here.
So as far as a travel location we think that North Korea has still got a bit of a way to go in becoming a tourist hot spot but you never know, stranger things have happened.
Have you ever travelled to somewhere that was not advisable? Do you think that some of the North Korean stories may have been blown out of proportion? Let us know about it in the comments.