10 Things Tourists Should Never Do While Travelling North Korea, While travelling to North Korea is not as straightforward as a trip to other countries, it can easily be arranged by designated agencies with the license to offer a package tour. Despite rising tensions surrounding North Korea, many tourists continue to flock to the nation, which is often described as one of the most mysterious in the world. And while the isolated country has come to recently embrace visitors from beyond its borders, it has not eased up on its notoriously stringent rules – or its harsh punishments. 10 Things Tourists Should Never Do While Visiting North Korea
1. Don’t call the country North Korea.
Referring to the nation as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, will help to keep you out of trouble.
2. Don’t expect privacy.
Travel to the country is only possible as part of a tightly controlled guided tour, and tour guides are with you every second you’re there. Really, though. Every second.
3. Don’t expect to see the real North Korea.
Your tour will be highly choreographed so that you will only visit authorized sites, shop in approved stores, and speak only to official guides. You will not have access to anything or anyone that is not part of your tour. In other words, you will not get any insight into how the local people live.
4. Don’t go off on your own.
You are not permitted to go anywhere without an escort. You must not leave your hotel. You must not use the public transportation system. You should not even attempt to stray a few feet from the group to get a closer look at something.
5. Don’t speak negatively about the country, its people, or its leaders.
Don’t give inappropriate comments to the national leaders or the economic and political situation of North Korea. Disrespecting the North Korean government is considered a major offence and has landed tourists in hot water, such as being sentenced to hard labor. In fact, travelers in North Korea are expected to praise every stop and landmark. Some may even be required to present flowers to or bow in front of statues of the regime’s past and present leaders. When in doubt, take Thumper’s advice: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
6. Don’t bring too much your phone, either.
Tourists are allowed to bring mobile phones, ipads, laptops, cameras, and telescopes. Although the country’s previous rule banning mobile phones has been relaxed, mobile devices are often still confiscated at customs. It should be noted that if DPRK authorities permit you to keep your phone when you enter, it will not function unless you use the DPRK mobile service, which will enable North Korean authorities to monitor your calls. GPS trackers, satellite phones, and camera lenses more than 150mm are absolutely not permitted, so leave them at home. If any questionable item is found, it will be confiscated, and may or may not be returned to you upon your departure.
7. Don’t pack a lot.
If you want to avoid a more-rigorous-than-usual screening process at the border (and trust us, you do!), then consider packing light. Upon your arrival, DVDs, USB drives, laptops, cameras, and other electronics – not to mention your browsing history – will be inspected by customs officials to ensure that you’re not carrying in any material critical of the DPRK government, or pornographic or religious content. Attempting to bring in any sort of Western literature about North Korea (including guidebooks) or media such as music or films from South Korea could be a very risky decision.
8. Don’t discuss or practice your religious beliefs.
North Korea is an atheist state that restricts public religion. Participating in unsanctioned religious activities such as publicly praying or toting around a Bible is a sure-fire way to get arrested, detained, or expelled from the state.
The regime is famously paranoid about keeping its internal affairs secret, so even seemingly innocuous photos — such as of people strolling down a sidewalk — could cause an issue. Travelers are instructed to avoid photographing scenes of poverty and construction sites. Should they want to snap a shot of a statue, they must capture the whole body in the frame, as no close-ups of the head are allowed.
9. Don’t break the rules.
Breaking a rule of the tour will not only put your life in danger, but will also put your guide at risk. He or she will face imprisonment and even torture for assisting your attempts at alleged espionage. Follow the lead of the guides, and do not take the rules lightly. If you are not willing to accept extreme limitations on your whereabouts and behavior, North Korea is probably not the right travel destination for you.
10. Don’t bring Negative Content
Don’t bring books, magazines, and CDs if the content is considered inappropriate, such as things with the national emblems of South Korea and the United States.