North Korea Journals

Journey into the Hermit Kingdom

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An October 2010 trip to North Korea by Shady Ady

Arirang Games - Pyongyang Photo, North Korea, Asia More Photos
Quote: This journal details my recent trip in to the secluded and secretive nation of North Korea. For more photos of this trip, please visit http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/ShadyAdy/

Week 52d - An Obligatory Bow

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Mansudae Grand Monument (Pyongyang) Photo, North Korea, Asia
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A trip to North Korea isn’t really complete without enjoying a dog barbecue at least once. I’ve eaten dog once before in China, and have to say the taste of dog certainly beats the image of eating it. With so few restaurants accommodating foreign tourists, it seemed as though the whole tourist population of Pyongyang had converged on this single restaurant, serving a variety of barbecued dog dishes. Sadly all of these foreigners were able to use chopsticks far better than me, a dismal fact considering I’ve been in China for almost a year. Up until now, I’d decided against asking Ms. Lee our guide any probing questions against North Korea. But after building up two days worth of trust and r...Read More

Week 52c - Imperialist Enemy

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Panmunjom Photo, North Korea, Asia
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This would be my last full day in North Korea. Unfortunately, due to the extortionate prices charged to visit this secluded republic, my meagre teaching wages couldn’t afford a longer stay.Again leaving the hotel at the crack of dawn, with other buses and their armed escorts waiting for Workers Party members in the hotel car park, we were on our way to what many call the most guarded place on Earth: Panmunjom.Panmunjom was once a village on the border between South and North Korea. This was the place where the 1953 Armistice Treaty was signed, which halted the Korean War. With the creation of the 250km long and 4km wide de-militarized zone (DMZ), inhabitants left Panmunjom. Fal...Read More

Week 52b - Hidden Messages (Part 2)

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Arirang Games - Pyongyang Photo, North Korea, Asia
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............................For most people the highlight of any trip to North Korea is the chance to see the Arirang Games, the largest choreographed gymnastic performance in the world, performed by over 100,000 gymnasts, artists and children. The games are the perfect opportunity to show off the states ideology; "the subordination of the individual’s desires for the needs of the collectives," and allow spectators to marvel at the complex levels of teamwork. The performance highlights North Korea‘s rich, powerful history, their successes and future possibilities. Before we ventured to Pyongyang May Day stadium, the biggest stadium in the world with a 150,000 capacity to see the Arirang Games, there w...Read More

Week 52b - Hidden Messages (Part 1)

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Pyongyang Children's Palace Photo, North Korea, Asia
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One thing they don’t like to give you whilst in North Korea is free-time. Free-time breeds curiosity and in North Korea curiosity can land you in a lot of trouble. After scoffing down a breakfast consisting of New Zealand Anchor butter and my first toast in a year, we were immediately on our way. Our guide Ms. Lee (one of four family names that make up 95% of the North Korean population), who had yet to crack a smile and Mr. Jang our guard, who seemed far more laid back, stuck to us like a wasp on jam.As there were only my wife and I in our tour ‘group’, we would be joining up with a larger Chinese group. No matter what your nationality is, all tour itineraries include the same attractions...Read More

Week 52a - The Axis of Evil?

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Pyongyang Airport Photo, North Korea, Asia
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North Korea hasn’t really received many creditable reviews as a tourist destination. With George Bush’s infamous ’Axis of Evil’ words and the fatal shooting of a 53 year old South Korean tourist by a North Korean soldier, this isn’t the kind of publicity tourist boards want to receive. Such stories often fail to tell the whole story, and after researching our chosen destination thoroughly, as long as you abide by the country’s laws and customs, it’s probably one of the safest destinations in the world to visit. With your own personal guide and guard, the inability to delve from the set itinerary, coupled with the fear for potential criminals of being sent to one of the notorious gulags, the chances of...Read More