North Korea from a tourist’s point of view

As tensions between Washington and Pyongyang are on the rise, many tourists still decide to visit the closed off dictatorship. In an interview with Israel’s Online 2 News, a young tour guide explains the attraction of the country.
Photo credit: Gergo Vaczi/ Channel 2 News

Despite growing tensions with the US and perhaps being one of the most threatening and closed off countries in the world, many tourists are still lining up to visit North Korea. In an interview with Israel’s Online 2 News, a young man who works for a tourism company that sends visitors to the dictatorship explained the attraction.

“I first came to North Korea as a tourist over a year ago,” Gergo Vaczi said. “This country always intrigued me and I remember that my grandparents told me about it after they visited, when I was a little boy. I realized then that I had to do something about it and go there.”

Photo credit: Gergo Vaczi/ Channel 2 News

On the third of September, Vaczi was visiting the country as part of his training as a tour guide. On the same day, Kim Jong-un ordered a hydrogen bomb test that shook the ground and caused a global uproar. Vaczi said that the tourists were told but nobody was afraid and everything went on as usual.

Central square Photo credit: Gergo Vaczi/ Channel 2 News

Most of these tourists are from western Europe- Britain and Germany. There are also tourists from China, Australia and even America. However, on the first of September, the US State Department prohibited any US citizens from visiting North Korea. “20 percent of our tourists were American,” Vaczi continued. “Now we can’t get them into the country. Just like tourists from other countries, they are simply curious. Anyone who comes to this country sees the trip as an enlightening experience.”

North Korean students Photo credit: Gergo Vaczi/ Channel 2 News

When visiting North Korea, there are several rules that must be observed. According to Vaczi, “as long as you don’t break the rules, everything is fine.” These include no photographs of anything military related or any construction sites. In addition, when taking pictures with statues of the country’s leaders, only photographs where the entire size of the statue is illustrated are allowed- that means no selfies.

Pyongyang skyline Photo credit: Gergo Vaczi/ Channel 2 News

Vaczi explained that outside of Pyongyang, all sense of modern life disappears and one can find people showering and washing their clothes in rivers: “It’s really a country of contrasts and you leave it with a lot more questions than answers.”

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