How to (Theoretically) Get Into North Korea

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Getting into North Korea is almost impossible and if you actually can get in, somewhat dangerous. If you are still interested, here are some tips and reasons why. In 1948, North Korea and South Korea were formed officially after the Japanese lost WWII and gave up occupation of Korea. Since then, North Korea has been the world's hotbed of communism and political controversy. The Korean War, the reign of Kim Il-Sung and now his son Kim Jong-il, and the testing of nuclear weapons have all led to animosity between North Korea and Western nations. In turn, it has become incredibly tough to visit the country, unless under a direct visa from a third party country.

Things You'll Need

  • Visa from a third party country
  • Courage
  • Will

Know the Risks

  • Americans are not welcome in North Korea. Even journalists and business people are not allowed entry except in extremely rare circumstances.

  • Apply for a visa from a third party country such as China if you must attempt entry into the country, but there is no guarantee of success here either.

  • Be aware that the U.S. government does not issue visas to private Americans.

  • Even military travel is extremely restricted in and out of North Korea.

  • U.S. citizens who actually make it into North Korea are subject to detainment and arrest.

  • There is no UN Embassy in North Korea, and no help for tourists once inside. Most local citizens are extremely wary of helping foreigners for fear of government repercussions.

  • South Koreans and some Europeans are allowed into North Korea, but have only limited access to tourist sites and cannot enter the capital city of Pyongyang.

  • Kim Jong-il is only to be spoken of as the "Dear Leader" and a number of other praising phrases.

Where to Stay (If You Get In)

  • Accommodations in Pyongyang are not cheap and are heavily guarded by soldiers who monitor your every move as a rule.

  • There are very few amenities in Pyongyang accommodations, including only a few TV channels and some restaurants.

  • Pyongyang is the only place you'll find accommodations even remotely westernized, although tourists are not allowed to enter this city.

Tips & Warnings

  • North Korea is in turmoil in every sense. Famine, fuel shortages, disease outbreaks and a government that strictly controls citizens' lives are the norm.
  • Recognize that accommodations here are reserved for locals and a rare few outside non-American tourists.
  • It is almost impossible for American tourists to visit North Korea.
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