#A destination like no other
North Korea titillates the curiosity of adventurers looking for thrills and surprises. Strong feelings because if you think you know what you're looking for - randomly and in disorder: the survival of a totalitarian communist state, excessive surveillance, the mark of a stay that almost no one realizes, etc.... - it's very difficult to know in advance what you're going to get out of it. Once there, it is indeed our vision and our initial assumptions that change, for good or for bad. Because this country, however unknown it may be to the general public, is a media star! Thus, far from acting as a repellent, negative media reports on certain destinations, including North Korea, also feed the willingness of travellers to go there to form their own opinion, and the North Korean regime is certainly one of the most attractive destinations for some travellers.This is the case, for example, of Andrew Swearingen, a Danish language student at Oxford, who confesses to having been to North Korea in 2005 out of "morbid curiosity", justifying his trip by the fact that "North Korea must be one of the most totalitarian regimes on the planet. It is the first communist dynasty in the world. I wanted to see this with my own eyes.In this respect, North Korea is indeed a summary of contradictions between increased security for tourists (the regime has no interest in depriving itself of the financial manna they represent) and a complete change of scenery. A little bit like a goldfish in a golden jar sometimes maybe.
Meet the inhabitants of the "hermit kingdom" :
Visiting North Korea is, of course, an expression of curiosity about a regime that has no equivalent in the 21st century. It also means, and perhaps above all, meeting the North Korean population, far from clichés and preconceived ideas. It would be a shame to reduce this country to its regime. North Korea offers a rich culture, beautiful landscapes, and friendly and curious people. So, we go to visit the regime's window, and we come back after getting to know North Korea and its inhabitants. Dominique Auzias, the co-founder of Le Petit Futé, who had decided when he created the publishing house to visit all the countries of the world, said on his return from a three-week trip to North Korea, without further comment, that he had been happy twice when he went to that country: the moment he entered and the moment he left.
Go check for yourself
Going there is comparing what we are told in our everyday media and reality. It means checking the information on this country, which is numerous but often parasitized by preconceived ideas. And it is also to see that if there is so much and more to criticize in North Korea, there are also some good surprises. Who knows that many apartments in Pyongyang have solar panels, that you can see beautiful German sedans or American 4x4s on the streets? We are only told about economic sanctions, but not how some of the countries behind the sanctions sell their goods to a company, often Chinese, which will sell them all to North Korean buyers and give them part of the profits. Nor are we told that the majority of the current population was born under this regime, knows only what they are told and above all nothing else, and that the real Korea is her. Going to North Korea is therefore worth all the documentaries and books devoted to this country, provided you know how to open your eyes.
See North Korea and enjoy coming back
Finally, the real plus of a trip to North Korea is that when you return to Europe, you appreciate much more the freedom you have after missing it there (to some extent, incomparable with what the North Korean population is going through, of course). It's quite strange to think that you can't leave the hotel in the evening, that you can't take the bus with the local population... Having the freedom to move freely within one's own country is something obvious to us, not to them: North Koreans need permits to move.