43 Comment

  • I Dont Get It

    Is that the Kennedy Center in the first pic?

  • This is definitely a first!

  • What I’m getting from the second pic is that even an impoverished pariah nation with an unhinged leader has a much nicer metro system than DC.


  • Got to admit – I give a bit of *side-eye* when people go to NK. You’re propping up the regime with your badly needed US dollars. I know I know, it looks cool on social media to get your selfies in front of the Mass Games. But those people are slaves. I wouldn’t take selfies with refugees running across the Hungarian border.

    • 1. I’m guessing selling nuke technology and drugs brings in more USD than a few thousand tourists each year for North Korea.
      2. When did a tourist boycott ever bring down a regime?
      3. How do you know the OP went to North Korea as a tourist? Perhaps he went there for something work-related and one day had the standard tourist tour of Pyongyang.

      • +1. There’s also people who go as language scholars, which frankly I think could be useful for us.

        • yes, if only there were some other, democratic, free korea where people could learn korean. too bad people HAVE to support a totalitarian hell-hole to learn korean.

          • It’s too bad that the North Korean language never evolved beyond the 1950s, as the language did in the South. And I say this as a Korean speaker who studied fairly extensively in South Korea, so I’m not exactly dumb.

          • My point being, if you spoke Korean (I’m assuming you don’t) you’d realize the languages differ a significant amount. Apologies if you are a Korean speak and I misunderstood your comment.

          • hi friday girl,

            i DO speak korean…and i’m well aware there has been a divergence in the two tongues, but they are still mutually intelligible. i’m a yonsei grad, btw.

            i don’t think the moral costs associated with traveling to NK are worth the benefits. fini.

          • palisades

            English is intelligible in the US and Australia, but they are both different is so many ways…how do you not see the importance of collecting that information? Language is an extension of culture.

        • ah

          We’re not talking about scholarly pursuits. Nor are we talking about diplomats going to spring prisoners of conscience from the gulag.

          The question is whether people should go for purely tourism purposes. I don’t think those folks are learning the differences between Korean-ROK and Korea-DPRK languages.

    • totally. plus there is nothing remotely “unique” about NK misery tourism anymore. the internet is full of travelogues about it.

    • How do we know this person (or whomever you’re side eyeing) traveled there as a tourist. I know probably half a dozen people in the DC area who have been there. They all work for aid agencies…

  • I wanna know the story behind this trip…..

    • palisades

      Relatively easy to go as far as I know. They are super strict about tours and photos though. You’re pretty much confined to a tourguide’s plans at all times.

    • ah

      Yeah – If you have the money, it’s possible to arrange a (very controlled) tour. It’s totally staged from folks I’ve talked to who have done it. You have to sleep where they tell you, go where they tell you, and if you wander too far away from the course you get yelled at.

      • correct. but the hideous regime in charge there is desperate for foreign cash. congrats, moron tourists! you’re helping to fund the gulag!

        • That One Guy

          Is one of your assumptions that outside influence/exposure to foreigners is negligible and meaningless to the NK people?

          • The opportunity to provide outside influence/exposure to North Koreans on these tours is extremely limited. Your interactions will be restricted to just your guides and your handlers, and other travelers. Even if you could interact, without a base in Korean, what are you going to say? There are no opportunity to buy from local shops or cafes to divert money to the people. Your money goes to the government, with some of it probably slushed off to grease palms.
            I see few benefits to going to NK other than the novelty of going. You have to draw your arbitrary line somewhere (I say this as someone who traveled in Myanmar during peak repression and had the opportunity to travel to NK when I lived in China).

          • I thought the tour groups had minders to prevent them from interacting with anyone but specially vetted (and rehearsed) North Koreans.

          • Textdoc is right, you’re not allowed to interact with real locals. You’re not changing any minds or have a “cultural exchange” by showing up. Lazy activism.
            And these “educational tours” are just after-the-fact excuses to get around tourism embargoes. I have plenty of friends who took “educational” and “religious” tours of Cuba – they spend two days doing the assigned stuff then spent another 10 days doing their own tourist thing. At least in Cuba you can – for the most part – roam freely and truly interact with the local population. The NK trips are just staged circus.

  • So what countries are we still missing? Can anyone figure that out easily?

    • Has anyone been to Bhutan? That seems like a rarity (that I would very much like to visit!).

      • palisades

        “I want to go to there” – Liz Lemon

        • I know a couple of other PoPVillers who travel to Bhutan regularly. At least one of them has a PoP t-shirt. If it hasn’t already been covered, we can do that. I’m guessing there are lots of island nations that we need to check off….PoPville cruise through the South Pacific in lieu of the next HH?

  • Nice subway station.

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