North Korea is probably one of the most difficult places to visit. You will need special permission with a special reason why you’re going there. Especially during the pandemic, there have been a lot of callings for people not to go to North Korea because of the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals. Although in principle any person is allowed to travel to North Korea, only South Koreans and journalists are routinely denied. Yet, the visitors are not allowed to travel outside designated tour areas without their Korean guides.
Contrary to the popular belief taking pictures is not fully illegal in North Korea, but still, there are photography guidelines that must strictly be followed by all the people who visit.
One Reddit user, u/_mitch_the_gr8, aka Mitch Brownlie, visited this mysterious country recently, and shared some pictures with Redditors of life in North Korea. As one would expect, the country seems surrounded by police, and you’re not allowed to wander around and explore the city on your own.
After sharing his post, there were a lot of people who wanted to know more about his experience in the country and understand if the truth it’s like the beliefs that go around on the internet. One person asked “Did you have a tour guide with you at all times or were you free to walk around by yourself and take pictures of what you want? Did you have any interactions with the locals?”
To which Mitch answered: “We had a tour guide in the area where-ever we were. On occasion, you could get a bit further away. One time I walked into an ice-cream store I wasn’t supposed to, it was awkward for a second because I only wanted 1 ice cream, though the smallest denomination note I had was $1, so I ended up having to buy a whole bunch. The minder saw me, then came and ushered me out of there.
This is where I learned that foreigners can’t use DPRK currency, only USD & Euro. If you get caught with it on the way out of the country, you’ll be in trouble.”
Usually, when people visit the country, they have a tour guide or police officers who keep an eye on them every second. They are followed everywhere, every time. The only moment you get to be by yourself it’s when you’re in your hotel room.
Even if you get lucky to sneak in some pictures, at the end of the day your camera, bag, the phone will be deeply researched and they will get rid of everything that doesn’t respect their guidelines.
“When we were on the train out of the country, I gave the soldier who came to our cart a box of cigarettes. For whatever reason, after this, my bag & camera weren’t searched. So I possibly managed to keep some pictures, others may not have been able to.
The only other time my phone or camera was searched was when I presented them for inspection when we entered the country.” replied Mitch to one of the comments on Reddit.
Even though this visitor probably has risked a great deal to take these pictures, he has been able to expose a little bit the inside of a country we can’t have access that easily into.
Below are some more pictures from his trip. Scroll down and enjoy the view of this city that remains mysterious to ll of those who don’t get to visit.
Palace of the Sun, Where Kim Il Sung & Kim Jong Il, Lay in state.
Something that it really pops up from these pictures is the fact that the streets are so deserted, and not crowded with cars like we’re used to see them. That’s because only military and government officials can own motor vehicles.
As you can see in the image below, most of the women have the same haircut, and here’s another crazy fact about it. North Koreans must abide by one of 28 approved haircuts. Unmarried women must have short hair, but married women have many more options. The hair of young men should be less than 2 inches long, older men can go as long as 2¾.
If I were to find a resemblance to North Korea, that would probably be George Orwell’s 1984. The big brother is watching you.
DPRK Joint Security Area
North Korea spent about one third of its national income on the military, according to a 2011 report from the South Korean government. The border between North Korea and South Korea is one of the most militarized in the world, according to the State Department. Pyongyang has about 1.2 million military personnel compared with 680,000 troops in South Korea, where 28,000 U.S. troops are also stationed.
Check out below some images of the country to get an idea yourself of what must be like there.
Earthwonders was granted permission by Mitch Brownlie to use these images.