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Korea – everything you wanted to know about traveling there

North Korea

North Korea has been considered one of my most noteworthy journey destinations. I traveled to North Korea in the summer, and as I shared the mood of my journey with footage and video on the Stories aspect of my Instagram account, I acquired a huge flood of feedback. Several commentators stated that they had not thought they might see content material from North Korea on Instagram. Many additionally questioned my experience and the practical preparations for my journey. That's why I made a decision to put together my North Korean journey experience for this publish where I try to reply collectively the questions I acquired – in fact, you possibly can ask extra in the publish's comment box if something went fallacious:

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Basic Details about North Korea [19659043] What is the present state of affairs in the country? What is sweet to know concerning the nation earlier than touring?

After the Korean Conflict, North Korea, formally the Democratic Individuals's Republic of Korea, adopted the Juche concept, which defined the nation's most essential objective of self-sufficiency. North Korea is at present one of the closed nations on the earth. Country is a rustic managed by one get together and one family (or certainly a person). North Korea has been led by dictators, first by grandfather Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-il, and by now-in-power grandson Kim Jong-un. The worship and respect of the leader based mostly on the Juche concept and the robust personal cult around the leaders are probably the most outstanding in society.

The North Korean media is totally leash and the propaganda machine of the nation has created virtually a god of the Kim dynasty through the years. Myths about North Koreans are already taught in faculties, commercials, TV exhibits, and nationwide festivals include virtually solely praises of rulers and distorted historical info. The nation has so-called. a songbun breakdown, by which citizens are divided into totally different teams based mostly on the person's personal activity and family background. Classification largely determines an individual's job, research and place of residence. North Koreans are beneath fixed scrutiny and, for instance, opposing rulers or challenging the country's concept is a particularly punitive act.

There’s very little goal info on North Korea. There are not any unbiased mass media within the country and overseas media are troublesome to access. Nevertheless, before traveling to the nation, it’s good to seek out out concerning the state of affairs in North Korea and its human rights usually – even if you don’t see any of those details when touring in the country:

  • dissidents, overseas spies and non secular practitioners.
  • There are quite a few concentration camps within the country which are believed to have a whole lot of hundreds of prisoners.
  • North Korea has severe restrictions on freedom of motion.
  • Hundreds of North Koreans flee to China. North Korea doesn’t settle for unauthorized border crossings, but those arrested are punished in jail camps and typically even dying sentences.
  • North Koreans face extreme restrictions on freedom of expression. The Web is banned and the federal government controls the press.
  • Spiritual activities are monitored very intently.
  • Tens of millions of North Koreans endure from famine.

Read more concerning the country eg

North Korea – Practical preparations for journey

journey planning? First, it is value noting that South and North Korea are still legally at warfare, despite the fact that peace is being maintained underneath the Oblique Ceasefire Agreement. No formal peace agreement has been signed between the nations. Relations between the nations are extraordinarily strained and the safety state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula might deteriorate at brief discover. For instance, just this week, North Korea was testing submarine-projectile missiles that reached Japan's financial waters. The State Division's Journey Bulletin states that the country's security state of affairs has been estimated to remain comparatively secure, but current provocations have elevated.

It also needs to be borne in thoughts that North Korea is a very closed society and a strict communist state, which should comply with strictly tourist-oriented tips. The DPRK safety personnel intently monitor the activities (and discussions) of foreigners and are all the time beneath surveillance. For instance, lodge rooms, telephones and fax machines might be monitored. Whether it is found that the instructions haven’t been followed, the results and penalties may be deadly to each the vacationer and the guide. Earlier than traveling, the travel agent will ask you to signal a type whereby you comply with abide by quite a few guidelines and tips when traveling.

Does someone want a “permit”, and so on. to travel to North Korea? by way of a number of tour operators permitted by the North Korean Tourism Bureau. These at present embrace Lupine Journey, Young Pioneer Tours, Koryo Tours, Uri Tours and Korea Konsult. As an alternative of solo adventures, this can be a rigorously planned and tightly controlled group tour, where modifications and exceptions to the day by day routine usually are not often attainable. The tour operator should also get hold of the required permits for traveling inside the country, for instance, when traveling greater than 30 kilometers from the capital Pyongyang. In addition, the only strategy to get round in Pyongyang is where the guide goes.

North Korea additionally needs a visa, which the tour operator obtains for all group members earlier than traveling. South Koreans can't travel to North Korea, and vacationers not take US passport travelers after the Otto Warmbier incident.

How can I get to North Korea from Finland?

North Korea can only journey by way of China. Journey choices embrace a flight from Beijing to Pyongyang by Air Koryo or a practice from Dandong to Pyongyang. A few of the aircraft of North Korea's nationwide airline Air Koryo are so-called EU-airplanes. “Blacklist”. The practice fleet is previous, but the sluggish velocity of the practice makes it potential to view the landscapes throughout a 6 hour practice journey.

By which company have been you there and do you advocate them?

I in contrast journey businesses for journeys to North Korea, and I ended up with Young Pioneer Excursions primarily because of my travel dates. The tour provided by the Young Pioneers was a so-called. finances travel, which also influenced my choice with a lower cost than other tour operators. In addition, I had acquired a suggestion from a number of world vacationers about this tour operator. My trip was successful and the whole lot went smoothly, so I can advocate them too.

How early did you ebook your trip? How typically do journeys happen?

I booked a North Korean trip instantly from the Young Pioneers about 2 weeks before the journey began, which is basically the last drop. Most of their most popular journeys may be bought out, so I like to recommend that you simply apply early for a visa.

Numerous tour operators have journeys to North Korea all year long.

The Younger Pioneers' 3-day finances trip to North Korea value a complete of $ 475.

How much and what was included within the journey package deal? The worth included a practice journey from Dandong – Pyongyang – Dandong, lodge lodging in a shared room with another traveler, day by day transfers, guided tours and entrances, and eating (breakfast, lunch and dinner) whereas in the nation. A visa payment of € 50 got here in.

I additionally obtained a further ticket for the annual Mass Games event, which value me about € 100. Journey prices also needs to consider the drop in local guides beneficial by the Young Pioneers to reserve 120 RMB (about € 15) per day per passenger. This quantity shall be shared between the Korean guides and the driving force. The drop shouldn’t be obligatory but fascinating because it accounts for a big portion of the wage of local employees.

As well as, there was some money spent on drinks and snacks whereas within the nation. The worth degree in the country is sort of reasonably priced, although the worth degree is sort of totally different for vacationers than the locals.

So the whole worth of my trip was about 700-750 € when beginning and returning to China Dandong.

In what foreign money can I pay? 19659044] Tourist destinations in North Korea are capable of pay in Chinese renminds, US dollars or euros. The preferred foreign money was the Chinese foreign money. Credit cards cannot be used at all and there are not any ATMs.

Solely North Korean gained is the tactic of cost at native places. The Pyongyang grocery store was solely capable of pay in Wons, so there was also the only foreign money change level for vacationers in the country where Chinese renminds could possibly be converted to local foreign money and returned after purchasing. Observe that the export of North Korean gained away from the nation is forbidden (but not systematically monitored or inspected).

What sort of journey program was this?

Tour operators supply journeys of varied lengths, the most typical of which are to the capital of Pyongyang. Journeys are often Three-5 days, some lasting up to a few weeks. My very own journey was that brief, 3 days. The practice journey from Dandong to Pyongyang takes about 6 hours with border formalities and is certainly value a visit as you possibly can see the North Korean countryside, a couple of smaller towns and villages and life outdoors the capital through the practice journey. The practice additionally stopped at a couple of stations alongside the best way, but only locals have been allowed to go away the practice.

Whereas in Pyongyang, our group stayed on the Chongnyo Lodge. The days have been filled with activities, and the sights have been nicely deliberate. We visited the next places, amongst others:

  • Kim Il Sung Square
  • Mansudae Fountain Park
  • Mansudae Grand Monument
  • Grand Individuals's Research Home
  • Kim Il Sung Sq.
  • Pyongyang Metro
  • The Arch of Triumph
  • Korean Warfare Museum
  • Juche Tower
  • Kwangbok Department Store
  • Rungrado Might Day Stadium

Along with sightseeing and sightseeing, my extras have been Mass. Participation in Video games. This spectacular event is held yearly at Rungrado Might Day Stadium, the most important stadium on the earth. The program of the occasion consists of gymnastics, acrobatics and musical performances. What makes it so particular, though, is the fact that hundreds of North Koreans are performing on the stadium on the similar time and there’s robust propaganda on this system.

I booked this 3 day journey as a result of it was the most cost effective package deal and in addition to see a particular Mass video games occasion. I assumed beforehand that I won’t need to spend extra days within the nation if the state of affairs there’s finally very unrealistic or distressing for the vacationer. Nevertheless, as I traveled, I noticed that I might have been on the nation for a number of additional days and a visit outdoors the capital to a smaller town and the North-South Korean border. Nevertheless, my itinerary might not be changed whereas in the country. I might say that in addition to my journey package deal, I might highly advocate a 4-5 day journey to the country if North Korea is .

Have been there any precautions?

As a precaution, there were undoubtedly a number of pages of directions from a tour operator on what to think about when traveling in North Korea. As well as, the evening earlier than the day of the trip, there was a gaggle assembly in China, which was strongly really helpful by the tour operator. In the course of the assembly, the principles and tips in addition to the journey program have been discussed, and the travel guide was capable of ask for something to do.

Along with familiarizing your self with the directions, you had to signal and decide to the tour operator's rules, which included info on what to do and not do in North Korea. Contents of the guidelines and signed guidelines included: Traveling to North Korea and Safety

  • Visa and Passport Journey
  • Dressing in the Land
  • Foreign money and Cash Use in the Land
  • Images and Use of GPS Units
  • Smartphones, Computer systems, Tablets, E-Readers and Other Electronics
  • Books
  • Dropping and Presents
  • Well being and Well being Care
  • Accountable Conduct
  • Journey Insurance coverage
  • Social Media Publication
  • 19659054] It is especially essential while within the country to know that disrespect for the ideology of the country and its leaders shouldn’t be introduced. Political speeches, statements, provocative acts or another disrespectful conduct have to be strictly excluded. The tour operator harassed that that is crucial advice to comply with to avoid potential conflicts while within the country whereas traveling.

    Images and social media in North Korea

    Was images allowed? Did you ever say you possibly can't shoot? In that case what not?

    With some exceptions, it was completely attainable to photograph in the country. The digital camera was allowed to be brought in, but skilled video cameras and drones have been banned. For DSLR cameras, the lens needed to be less than 250mm and there was no need for a separate GPS receiver. The built-in GPS for the digital camera and telephone was okay.

    The directions and guidelines that got here with it already advised you what not to describe. In addition, whereas within the nation, the local guides additionally informed me if pictures could not be taken at that location. Prior instructions said that footage shouldn’t be taken of development websites, army personnel, army automobiles, army checkpoints, or buildings. An exception to this, nevertheless, was the DMZ (Panmunjom), where you possibly can take footage with soldiers as properly. Nevertheless, by the point it was okay for the border station to take footage away from the station constructing in the direction of the practice, and when the practice was shifting, it was stated that taking footage / video was ok. While touring, the native guides only instructed me a few occasions where we couldn't photograph – these have been the interior of the supermarket and the Army Museum. In all places else we went, we have been free to photograph every little thing.

    Nevertheless, it must be famous that for journalists coming in, the state of affairs is totally different and the restrictions are stricter.

    What was the Internet like? Will?

    There isn’t any internet in any respect in the country. Additionally, the telephone was not audible all through the journey. As an alternative, the telephone's GPS positioner did show the situation if it had downloaded Google Maps prematurely, for example. Thus, in the country, the web is completely restricted from each locals and tourists. However let's face it, the management of the nation and the elected individuals have web connections …

    How might you update this brazenly to some? Isn't it restricted?

    The directions I acquired earlier prompt that posting on social media providers like Fb, Twitter or Instagram as personal updates was utterly allowed. In fact I couldn't submit directly to the location because of the shortage of the Web, but I saved it to my telephone and posted it to my Instagram Store once I acquired to China and on the web (although in China, social media channels are restricted to VPN access). As an alternative, all material revealed in different media, resembling magazine articles or guide content, have to be accepted prematurely by the tour operator. I do not know how they might undergo Finnish material, but I assume North Korea could have some expert individuals … Fortuitously, a personal wordpress weblog is counted as a social media channel, so this publish might be revealed with out the approval of the country. 😉

    Did you have got any problems while filming videos within the streets / public places together with your telephone?

    No drawback at any time. Solely at first did using the tripod appeal to the eye of the native guide, and he needed to understand how the camera-phone connection works. I showed him the features of the Olympus cellular software and the digital camera, and when he realized that I used to be solely taking footage of myself on this approach (I additionally showed the photographs I took), I was free to continue capturing. He also seemed very on this new know-how, which he had clearly not seen before.

    North Korea – Native Life

    It is typically stated that North Korea is primitive. In what method is this “distress” visible there? What about poverty within the capital?

    Immediately on the border between North Korea and China, he observed a distinction in improvement between the two nations, and particularly the 6-hour practice journey was a sort of cross-section of rural life outdoors the capital's “splendor.” Though Pyongyang, the capital, has been in its splendor for almost the 1970s, the type right now is extra of a contemporary metropolis than an previous Soviet state – a flamboyant sure, nevertheless it's virtually gone. As well as, several development tasks within the capital have been ongoing since then and are more likely to be never completed resulting from monetary difficulties. Outdoors the primary streets of the capital, there are normal house complexes the place the locals appear to reside in modest ways. For example, a number of the high-rise skyscrapers on the primary road have been virtually utterly dark, and once I requested this guide, he stated that only a handful of high-level authorities individuals whose households are rented by the state have been dwelling there.

    can stay in very primary and poor circumstances. In rural areas, individuals are additionally starving, as they could be dependent solely on their very own crop, when households have little revenue. As well as, virtually all work in the countryside is completed manually without equipment. Our guide on the Chinese aspect informed how within the spring they see cabbage nests across the river within the river through the harvest season – cabbage is among the North Korean primary meals in the countryside, typically even the one reserve. As quickly as they crossed the border, one couldn’t ignore the slender look of North Koreans, and a few adults have been clearly underweight and undernourished. I heard the rulers of the country say in their propaganda that sloth is sweet for the North Koreans, although within the public eye they’re pretty chubby … Whereas touring throughout the countryside by practice and taking a look at large fields, I couldn't help considering of the place to go. they seemed to stay in a really rudimentary and poor situation compared to the Western nations, but the view was not at all harsh. Particularly in the nations of the former Soviet Union, after touring in the North Korean countryside, a minimum of along the practice route, it seemed fairly comparable – poor sure, but not strikingly depressing. In the countryside, there are not any paved roads in any respect, and then again, they don’t seem to be needed, as there are not any automobiles, and locals walk or cycle what they transfer from the yard of their house. Some locations saw old style buses in visitors and some might have bikes in use. In the countryside, locals in the course of the day appeared to be working mostly on fields, judging by bike parks, and youngsters underneath faculty age enjoying on the outskirts of the fields or within the riverbeds. However the thing to notice here is that tourists definitely do not need to show the worst of the misery and famine that’s out of reach of the practice route in the remainder of the country.

    All in all, wages are very low all through the nation. All jobs within the country are within the palms of corporations run or controlled by the state, and self-employed entrepreneurship within the country is unimaginable. Home corruption and the black financial system are booming in the country, as a result of whereas the grey market financial system just isn’t authorized, it’s extensively tolerated and corrupt officials are taking a look at bribing. Indeed, most North Koreans run a few of their very own aspect business to earn additional revenue. Whereas males could be assigned to work for the state, married ladies may be launched from authorities obligation by registering as a housewife. This provides them time to trade, for instance, or run numerous providers. Indeed, it’s estimated that up to 70% of the revenue of North Korean families is earned by ladies.

    Those dwelling in Pyongyang, the capital of the Sonbung, belong to the very best caste, and most of them work in government jobs there, resulting in a better lifestyle. Even in the metropolis, nevertheless, individuals endure from food shortages and power outages. It was noteworthy that while strolling by means of the town, monuments and propaganda plaques have been massively illuminated, but houses or even blocks might be virtually darkish.

    The streets seemed actually cool, is it cooler than other nations?

    Undoubtedly, the capital of Pyongyang, North Korea in many other huge cities. This is due to the truth that the residents of each dwelling house should care for the cleanliness of the house in addition to its surroundings. on the request of the block committee. That is, every tenant is obliged to keep the home surroundings tidy. These sweeping patrols have been seen here and there, and there was actually no garbage mendacity in anywhere they didn't belong to.

    What is the everyday lifetime of the locals? How real do you contemplate what you see, for example, to see the on a regular basis lifetime of their individuals within the streets?

    As we traveled to North Korea, we suspected with our travel group the very first day that we really had no concept what we have been seeing and eventually felt like we have been starting to turn into utterly paranoid in our suspicions. At first, Pyongyang's somewhat abandoned streets appeared mysterious at first, and something in my mind didn't precisely inform us that it was a energetic million-town (the guide talked about Four-5 million inhabitants). Nevertheless, it’s noteworthy that vacationers are circulated only on the town's principal streets and their points of interest, which locals don’t depart every single day for no specific purpose. Their lives revolve largely between house and work, and almost definitely outdoors the primary streets.

    As attention began to dwindle into smaller particulars, one might begin to see the life of the locals out of their own preconceptions and bubbles. The everyday life of the locals appeared to the outsider as relatively critical, conservative outfits, scheduled lives. In the morning, mothers ran their youngsters hand in hand to kindergartens / faculties and people who have been going to work, ready for buses to cease and stuffing them with snacks. Grandmothers pulled buying carts with them. Through the day, the streets have been quieter, but after hours of sunshine, the streets crammed with individuals again: couples walked hand in hand, a person may need a bouquet of flowers, and couples exchanged gazes. A lady who had gone to work from her husband let her youngster run the remainder of the best way to hug her father. The teenagers went residence from faculty in greater groups, and the grandmothers have been sitting in the yard of the supermarket, in all probability waiting for a experience or carry-on help from the store. The paparazzi learn the newspaper at the subway cease. The Karaoke Bar echoed the brilliant lights, and women and men appeared to be spending the evening there.

    Even on the subway, it appeared as if it was still within the middle of North Korean life. There were individuals of all ages traveling on the subway, and identical to some other cease, the carriage was full. The little boy checked out us curiously while others didn't pay much attention to us. A couple of teenage boys exchanged a couple of words with us, they usually additionally agreed to a selfie with a traveler.

    Truly, probably the most authentic experience I had was being within the supermarket yard. We have been capable of transfer across the supermarket without guides and after buying a number of snacks from the Market, I moved to the yard subsequent to the concrete railing to take a seat and watch life in the yard. A few occasions the market safety guard came to peek out the door saying that I used to be truly sitting there and didn’t trigger any embarrassment, however fortunately I was at peace. Specifically, as I sat in the yard, I was capable of observe the encounters of the locals, the expressions, the gestures, the contents of the purchasing luggage, the composition of the households, the fashion of gown, the accents. The little woman got here to me curiously and smiled for a very long time earlier than restraining her father. A line of granny watched me with interest and once I handed them the grapes, they first refused to be scared, however soon I acquired a candy tooth smile from them once I left a bunch of grapes next to them. I do not consider that North Korean equipment might have staged this automotive park life and encounters from start to finish, so I started to consider that the nation might nonetheless see small bits and items of the actual life of the locals, though in fact tourists choose the grandeur and

    I additionally heard that Young Pioneer Tours, on some of their longer journeys, organizes a Homestay experience with an area household, where tourists, in addition to staying in a single day, can take part in family day-to-day actions and discover ways to prepare dinner North Korean conventional meals. I might undoubtedly have needed to include this in my journey if I had recognized prematurely. Although, in fact, for this homestay too, the North Korean Tourism Bureau has definitely chosen the houses and families that current the nation in good mild to tourists.

    The position of the tourist in North Korea

    Did you are feeling protected? Did you are feeling insecure anyplace? Scared?

    I used to be preoccupied with traveling greater than many other nations, often because North Korea is likely one of the solely locations that can't be properly understood or imagined prematurely. Whereas still at the border station I was excited to have the ability to do the best factor, however soon the thrill melted, especially as I listened to the Aussie man in the practice cabin – he had traveled dozens of occasions in North Korea as a journey guide but had now brought his cousin on vacation. In a method, North Korea is likely one of the safest destinations for vacationers, because traditional crime towards vacationers will not be at all, and when underneath the steerage of full-time guides, there isn’t a handbag. you have to hold on as tightly as in other huge cities. Provided that you do something that violates the principles and laws can there be awkward places – but even then the punishment will be the guide who gave you the fools and not the tourist (until you happen to be a Yankee). Tunsinkin oloni turvalliseksi koko ajan maassa ollessa vaikka toki olin tietoinen siitä, että tekemisiäni tarkkaillaan.

    Ainoastaan maasta pois lähtiessä vähän kuumotti, sillä oppaat tyrkkäsivät minut yksin Pjongjangista Dandongiin lähtevään junaan ja raja-asemalla vain vähän englantia puhuva armeijamies alkoi kyselemään minulta täytettyjen lappujen perään. Kiltisti täyttelinkin sitten pyydetyt tiedot, mutta kun hän ei ymmärtänyt kaikkea englanniksi kirjoittamaani suoraan, tuntui minuutit etenevän hitaasti ja aloin miettimään, että miten ihmeessä tästä tilanteesta oikein yksin selviän. Mutta niin vain laput saatiin täytettyä (niissä siis kysytään perustiedot kuten missä tahansa maahantulo/poistumiskortissa mutta lisäksi täytyy listata mukana kuljettamansa elektroniikka lukumäärineen).

    Miten teitä turisteja kohdeltiin? Erikoiskohtelua vai aivan päinvastaista?

    Turistit saavat ehdottomasti osakseen erityiskohtelua jo matkajärjestelyistä alkaen. Oppaat haluavat suorittaa työnsä kunnialla, joten heille on äärimmäisen tärkeää, että turistit viihtyvät ja kaikki sujuu ilman ongelmia. Toisaalta maan turismitoimisto on asettanut jokaiselle ryhmälle tiukat päiväaikataulut eri nähtävyyksille, ja oppaiden ilme alkoi kiristyä, jos emme meinanneet pysyä aikataulussa. Saatoimmekin saada pientä nuhtelua, kun useat meistä kömpi hotellilta bussiin myöhässä.

    Kerroitko olevasi matkabloggaaja? Kuulemani mukaan toimittajia ei helpolla sinne päästetä käymään?

    Minne tahansa reissaankaan, täytän maahantulokorttiin ammatikseni päivätyöni eli kerron olevani konsultti, joka on aika yleismaailmallinen termi ja se ymmärretään laajasti. Pohjois-Koreaan mennessä tosin jouduin tätä vielä tarkentamaan sen osalta, että millä alalla tätä työtä teen ja kirjoitin lappuun environmental consulting in engineering company ja kaikki oli siltä osin okay. Koska en ole ammattitoimittaja tai -valokuvaaja, en missään nimessä kirjoittele näitä titteleitä maahantulokortteihin tai viisumihakemuksiin, sillä lähes aina ne tietävät hankaluuksia tai viivytyksiä melkein missä tahansa rajalla, varsinkin jos maahan tarvitaan erillinen toimittajalupa.

    Sen sijaan paikallisoppaalleni kerroin avoimesti kahdesta työstäni ja näin ollen myös blogista sekä sosiaalisen median kanavistani. Häntä vaikutti erityisesti kiinnostavan mahdollisuuteni matkailla niin paljon (pohjoiskorealaisilla kun tätä mahdollisuutta ei ole) ja hän kyselikin mm. kuinka monessa maassa olen matkustanut ja lempipaikoistani maailmalla. Kerroin hänelle myös, että tulen varmasti kirjoittelemaan Pohjois-Korean matkastani blogiini ja jakamaan sisältöä Instagramissa, ja hän sanoi, että toivottavasti niiden myötä maahan tulee enemmän turisteja. Eli matkabloggaaja-statukseni ei ainakaan tässä yhteydessä ajateltu huonona juttuna.

    Mitä saa ja mitä ei saa tehdä itsekseen? Saitko poiketa muualle opastetulta turistikierrokselta? Saitko kulkea ilman saattajaa?

    Junassa meillä oli mukana yksi ulkomaalainen opas ja vasta Pjongjangissa tapasimme paikallisoppaat (yhteensä 3 kpl) ja kuskin. Junassa ollessa sai touhuta niin vapaasti kuin halusi, mutta siitä ei saanut poistua. Ja esimerkiksi tosiaan takaisinpäin rajalle reissasin yksin ilman yhtäkään opasta. Mutta muuten maassa ollessa on ryhmällä mukana aina ulkona liikkuessa 2-Three paikallista opasta ja tästä ryhmästä ei pysty lähtemään sooloilemaan. Kaupungilla kävellessä oli toki ok pysähtyä ottamaan kuvia, mutta jos jäi paljon jälkeen ryhmästä, jäi joku oppaista aina odottamaan, että kaikki ovat varmasti mukana. Ja esimerkiksi kun suurin osa ryhmästämme hääräsi sisällä kirjakaupassa, halusin mennä itse ulos katselemaan elämää kadulla, niinpä yksi oppaista tuli mukaani hengailemaan ulos. Opastetulta turistikierrokselta ei siis pysty poikkeamaan muualle jo siitäkin syystä, että päiväohjelma on tiukasti aikataulutettu ja oppaat ovat velvoitettuja pitämään turistiryhmän kasassa.

    Sen sijaan hotellilla sisätiloissa saa touhuta mitä haluaa, eikä siellä oppaat tai vartijat kulje perässä. Hotellin piha-alueellekin sai mennä, mutta tiettyä rajakohtaa ei saanut ylittää (tosin tämä oli ainakin meidän hotellissa hieman hämärää, minne asti saatiin mennä, sillä kävimme useamman kerran illalla ulkona katselemassa tähtiä ja muuten vain jaloittelemassa, ja saattoi käydä niin, että vahingossa kuljimme myös liian pitkälle). Hotellit kuitenkin taitaa olla varustettuna useammilla kameroilla ja silmäpareilla, joten sieltä ei välttämättä kannata yrittää ainakaan karkumatkaa.

    Ja kuten kerroinkin esimerkiksi supermarketissa saimme liikkua vapaasti minne halusimme, ja tämän vuoksi pystyin myös omatoimisesti hengailemaan marketin pihamaalla ilman oppaita – mitä nyt taisin olla kaupan vartijan tarkkailun alaisena. En tiedä kuinka pitkälle olisin voinut pihamaalla kulkea ennen kuin joku olisi lähtenyt perääni. Ajattelin, ettei se taida kuitenkaan olla kokeilemisen arvoista.

    Tuliko olo, että sinua kuunneltiin?

    Eipä kyllä sanottavammin, olo ryhmässä ja oppaiden seurassa oli varsin normaali, ja mitä enemmän juttelin niitä näitä oppaiden kanssa, sitä rennommilta he vaikuttivat ja sitä enemmän he myös kertoilivat minulle juttuja omasta elämästäänkin. Toki he varmasti tarkkailivat meitä ja kuuntelivat sivukorvalla juttujamme, ettei mitään hälyttävää pääse käymään. Lisäksi en nyt lähtisi esimerkiksi hotellilta soittelemaan mitään poliittisia puheluita ulkomaailmaan tai kontaktoimaan mediaa kohujutuilla, sillä lankapuhelimet ovat varmasti kuuntelun alaisuudessa. Kännykän osaltahan niitä kuuluvuuksia sitten ei olekaan, joten siltä osin ei tainnut kuunteluvaaraa olla.

    Veikkaanpa, että lähettämäni postikortit on myös syynätty tarkasti postiasemalla, mutta koska ne perille pääsivät muutamassa viikossa, oli niiden sisältö nähtävästi hyväksyttävää. Tosin postikortit pystyi ostamaan ainoastaan virallisesta kirjakaupasta ja niissä olevat valmiit tekstit olivat Pohjois-Korea myönteisiä…

    Yksi erityinen seikka, johon kiinnitin huomiota oli, että yksi paikallisista oppaistamme, miespuolinen, liittyi yhtenä iltana seuraamme illanviettoon hotellilla. Muutamien ryhmämme jäsenien ja parin  muun hotellivieraan kanssa pelasimme biljardia, joimme paikallista olutta ja riisiviiniä, hoilotimme karaokea ja pelasimme ties mitä juomapelejä pullonpyörityksestä alkaen. Jonkin aikaa hän hengaili kanssamme kuin kuka tahansa osallistuen jopa peleihin. Toki hän varmasti samalla kuunteli juttujamme, mutta enpä tiedä mitä Pohjois-Korean hallinto niillä meidän turistien oudoilla jutuilla tekisi, jos hän joutui niistä eteenpäin raportoimaan.

    Koetko, että Pohjois-Korean matkan voi tehdä vastuullisesti? Voiko matkailija esim. yhtään vaikuttaa…

    Pohjois-Koreaan matkustaminen on ristiriitaista. Suurinosa matkan hinnasta menee paikalliselle turistitoimistolle ja sitä kautta maan hallinnolle. Tästä syystä voisi kyseenalaistaa jokaisen maahan matkaavan periaatteen sen osalta, että onko matkailu maahan koskaan vastuullista, jos rahat menevät ihmisoikeuksia rikkovalle hirmuhallitsijalle.

    Toisaalta on mielestäni merkittävää, että Pohjois-Korea on avannut rajojaan yhä enemmän turismille, ja verrattuna vaikkapa vuosien takaiseen tilanteeseen, näytetään turisteille maasta nykyisin muutakin kuin pääkaupunki ja esim. valokuvauksen suhteen ollaan löysempiä – puhumattakaan sosiaalisesta mediasta. Näin ollen maasta valuu väkisinkin edes hieman enemmän juttuja ulkomaailmaan, mutta samalla turismin myötä myös ainakin paikallisille oppaille ja turistien kanssa työskenteleville tieto ympäröivästä maailmasta, eri maista ja kansallisuuksista lisääntyy jokaisen retken ja henkilökohtaamisen myötä. Matkailijat voivatkin olla paikallisten ainoa yhteys ulkomaailmaan.

    Turismi on myös kasvava tulonlähde Pohjois-Koreassa, ja koska turismi lisääntyy vuosi vuodelta, kasvaa sen myötä myös työvoiman tarve turismin keskuudessa. Esimerkiksi Kiinasta virtaa vuosi vuodelta, ja jopa kuukausi kuukaudelta, yhä enemmän turisteja Pohjois-Koreaan ja sen seurauksena hotelleja on alettu vuosikymmenien tauon jälkeen rakentamaan lisää täyttämään tämä kysyntätarve. Näin ollen turismi ei pelkästään työllistä suoraan vaan myös välillisesti rakennusprojektien ja muiden palveluiden kautta. Toki tässäkin on hyvä huomata, ettei asia tietenkään ole niin mustavalkoinen, vaan että isoin siivu ulkomaailman tuloista ja investoinneista (joita Kiina nähtävästi tekee entistä enemmän myös tehdasinvestointien muodossa) virtaa kuitenkin maan hallinnon pussiin.

    En koe, että yksittäisellä matkailijalla on paljoa vaikutusmahdollisuuksia maassa ollessaan. Jos haluaa vaikuttaa maan epäkohtiin, se tulee tehdä toista kautta esim. kansainvälisissä järjestöissä (ks. linkit postauksen alusta). Mutta yksittäisen matkailijan kannalta näen kuitenkin tärkeänä sen, että matkan jälkeen kerromme avoimesti kokemastamme ja näkemästämme, otamme enemmän selvää maan tilanteesta sekä osoitamme kiinnostusta ja välittämistä paikallisia ja heidän olosuhteitaan kohtaan. Samalla kun jokaisen matkan myötä, olipa kohdemaa mikä tahansa, oma maailmankuvamme avartuu, voimme esimerkiksi sosiaalisen median avulla näyttää muillekin paloja tästä suljetusta maasta. Jokainen voi sitten niin halutessaan omalla reissullaan Pohjois-Koreaan tehdä omat johtopäätöksensä ja tulkintansa maasta. Ainakin omalla kohdallani matka Pohjois-Koreaan herätti tiedonhaluni saada maasta entistä enemmän puolueetonta tietoa. Ja samalla toki toivon, että nämä julkaisemani jutut lisäävät tietoa myös seuraajilleni tästä suljetusta maasta.

    Ps. Instagram-tilini Highlighteissa on nyt lisättynä Pohjois-Korea, johon olen tallentanut materiaalin mitä julkaisin aiemmin reissultani.

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