Exploring the axis of...
My next trip is off to North Korea in September - assuming visa approval - a stark difference to Hamilton Island!
One of my best friend did it last august...quite an experience....on my list...one day....won't say you going to love it...but it will be something!
How long will your trip be, Shane?
Well, this is humbling, a thread is named after me!
The plan is to spend six nights in North Korea, and hopefully see the Arirang Games, the border and various monuments to the Dear Leader. Since I am not a US or South Korean citizen, my stay is not limited to three days in a strictly controlled "group tour". My time there will still be heavily supervised, but at least I'll be a strictly controlled "individual tour" visitor - complete with a private guide and driver who will direct my every move.
And be ready for few things....don't bring a mobile phone, they are illegal in the country....and when you leave, they will check every single pic you took on your camera....every single one!
Shouldn't be a big problem to see the Games...but if the "Great Leader" is there, you won't be able to get any pic at all...the good news...he is quite often sick...ok, won't say more, don't want you to have any issue for your visa.
If youstop one day in Beijing or Saigon, these 2 places have "North Korean" restaurant....I have friend who went there and it seems to be a "very special" experience...I think they may have one or two more in the world...
Current restrictions on travelling to North Korea:
- No mobile phones
- No lenses over 150mm - my best lens is 18-200 :-(
- No partial photos of statues, you must take the whole thing from in front (and not behind)
- No photos without permission
- No photos from moving cars/buses/trains
- No 'propaganda' from the US or South Korea
- No disrepect to the Dear Leader or the Great Leader at any time
Funnily enough, comptuers are okay as there is no Internet access.
I have not heard of the no-photo situation if the Great Leader was in attendance at the Arirang Games. I thought that there are restrictions against taking crowd photos, but one can still photograph the show. I believe that video is totally banned.
Excuse my ignorance but can I ask what these rules are for?? Even if you could direct me to some reading that would be great. I don't know a thing about the country and it would be nice to have some background on this. Thanks =)
I hope that my historical and theoretical facts are correct in this explanation.
The Stalinist form of Communism - a tightly state-controlled system - was most famous in the old Soviet Union. All of this has now since vanished, but one last bastion remains - North Korea.
The theory is that for the greater good of all, it is the government (State) and not the individual that is the most important aspect of a society - and to this end - the State does control everything. This includes the media, education, set prices on the buying and selling of goods, regulation of profit, what days cars are allowed on roads, and the list goes on.
As the old saying goes, "When in Rome, do what the Romans do" and it is true of North Korea. Since the North Korean system values State over individual - there is no room for any dissention from the State's position. Thus, when travelling to North Korea, the State has deemed what is acceptable to show a foreigner.
Thus, what you photograph, the places you visit, and the information you receive all reflect the State's definite and immovable position. Any deviation from this is not tolerated, and thus, everything is subject to the controls you see in my previous post.
I am still looking for a good book on North Korea, when I find one, I'll let you know ;-)
Good luck on your travels, Shane. Been following your blogs, great reading. And may I add, you also do a fine job of moderating some forums here. I always find your comments very informative/educational, unbiased/fair, and very very well written. Much better than the Lonely Planet travel narratives i used to read. Looking forward to reading your blogs on North Korea. Godspeed!
Excuse my ignorance but can I ask what these rules are for??
People there are very repressed and the government want to keep it like that. They dont want any information getting in or out of the country. There is a book written by the only person to ever escape from one of their concentration camps. I will look up the name of it and post it here. I am planning to read it when I come accross a copy hopefully secondhand.
Guys, you may want to keep all this for AFTER Shane trip. He needs his visa if he wants to get there...and that means not making too many comments about the place. Even if we all agree on the situation...
Escapee Tells of Horrors in North Korean Prison Camp
People get put in these prisons for saying anything at all against the government or sometimes they get put in there because one of their family members said something.
There wont be much chance of anyone in N. Korea leaking information via The Travel Camel because he will be watched closely and everything he says will be reported to the police. And if he sees anything, he wont be able to take photo evidence out of the country.
I think Pierre might be right Shane, unfortunately. Should we take this thread out of public view and then put it back in view after your trip? Leaving it here is a small risk only, but a risk all the same. What do you think?
Pierre is right - for sure. I deliberately didn't make any negative comments on the country for this reason. Yes, let's take it off for the time being - but keep it safe. I'm applying for my visa within the month, and once that process starts, I need to be cautious.
I'll put it back into the public view once I return - but it won't be till mid-September. Of course, this all assumes I'll get the visa in the first place!
You'll get your visa. But quick, take this thread out of public view! Best of luck.
On review now. When you get back, dont forget to take it off review and bump it back to the top so we can all bombard you with questions. 😊
: Please leave this thread on Reviewing
until the trip is complete - the North Koreans can cancel a visa at anytime, even whilst I'm in the country.
I'll put it back in the public domain after my departure from North Korea. That is expected to be on Sunday 13 September 2009.
What would happen if they cancelled your visa while you are in the country? Would they deport you?
Welcome back....so how was it!
Funny enough, I've heard this morning that somebody I know is going to spend a full year in North Korea....any taker? Not for me...
I enjoy way to much Bangkok...next entry coming in few hours!