"Behind Enemy Lines in the Forbidden Land" Top 5 Page for this destination North Korea by DSwede
North Korea Travel Guide: 550 reviews and 1,757 photos
I might not know S Korea as well as others out there, but I think I know it more than the most. So for me, going to the North was definitely a comparison point I wanted to experience before things change. I was too young to visit any of the Soviet blocks before they opened up. I've subsequently visited a bit of Eastern Europe and seen the construction styles, economic repercussions, etc. But those places were still western in their mind. N Korea is so far isolated they are oblivious of the last 40 years. But with pressures of big brother China, the Evil Imperialist Devil USA, as well as the imminent death of Our Hero Kim Jr, something will happen when either there is a coup or his idiot sons take over. Since the fall of the Soviet Communist party and the capitalistic shift in China, DPRK has lost most of its support and aid, both in products and food. That has only aided in making North Korea even more isolated and desperate for help.
North Korea lives by the motto of "Army First". They preach that the evil, imperialistic USA sought to capture and enslave South Korea, being a strategic location for further conquests on Asia. They claim that only because they were stronger than their southern brothers, that they were not controlled by the USA. It is through military deterrents that they maintain peace against the aggressions of USA. North Korea has perpetuated the idea that only they have the strength and purity of heart to liberate the rest of the oppressed world and in doing so, require the best armies.
Our guides told me that military service in DPRK is not mandatory, but rather everyone opts to join out of strong patriotic sentiment and pride. Typical assignments are between 3 and 5 years.
I've also been told conflicting information, but the 3~5 year comment came directly from the government employed tour guides that chaperoned us for 5 days. It is cultural pressure that make them do anything, more of an unwritten rule. But I can tell you that while women do have an unprecedentedly large work force due to the men being off in the military, the men are back in the work force in their mid to late 20's. I say this just from the demographics of people I saw in civilian life roles.
Having spent a lot of time in South Korea, North Korea proves to be the antithesis, contradicting everything that modern South Korea has evolved into. To avoid the political conversations and view points that are frowned upon here on VirtualTourist, we can only point out some of the physical differences.
North Korea's capital of P'yongyang is ~2.5million people
South Korea's capital of Seoul is +18million.
NK's total population is around 23 million, while SK is over 65 million.
After the Korean War, SK had a third world's economy, struggling to survive. Today, SK arguably numbers #11 in the world.
North Korea does not even have an economy. The guides that escorted us said that the typical North Korean does not even carry any money in their wallet, only on the days that they know they will be going to the market.
South Korea's export and industry is truly amazing. North Korea's on the other hand is non-existent, relying mostly on goods supplied by ship from Russia, or by truck over the heavily controlled bridge over the Yalu River from Dandong, China to Sinuiji, North Korea.
South Korea's nightlife is chaotic. Lights, bars, restaurants and people are busy until the early mornings on every day.
North Korea is dark by 8pm, inside of a city of 2.5 million people, it would be difficult to walk down the street without a light. Instead of hearing traffic and people, we heard crickets when we opened our window in downtown P'yongyang at 9pm.
I'm still trying to come up with the words to describe my experience in North Korea. But I have taken many photos, feel free to visit my North Korea Gallery. If you enjoy the pictures, please leave a comment.
Feel free to visit my pages of P’yongyang, Kaesong, Panmunjom and Myohyang for some other insights to the places I visited.
- Pros:Like no other experience you may have had, it will stir conversations with everyone you meet.
- Cons:Do not come here unless you are genuinely interested, since you will not have the comforts of a conventional holiday.
- In a nutshell:Stuck in Communist 1968, unaware of the outside world.
Obviously the traveler who finds themselves going to North Korea will tend to be a bit more adventurous, more educated... more travel advice
In my tours of China and more specifically Dandong, it was expressed by several Chinese people that the Chinese sided... more travel advice
DSwede's Related Pages
North Korea Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "North Korea - The World's Most Isolated Country"
- "Behind Enemy Lines in the Forbidden Land"
- "DPRK - not another BIG story"
- "Close Encounter with DPRK"
- "A surreal experience"
- "North Korea - Poor, but beautiful"
- "8 days in North Korea"
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- Things to Do in North Korea
- Hotels in North Korea
- Transportation in North Korea
- Nightlife in North Korea
- Restaurants in North Korea
- Shopping in North Korea
- Warnings and Dangers in North Korea
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