Would You Visit North Korea?

You are offered a chance to go on a 10-day tour of North Korea, all expenses paid. Like in most tours taken by foreigners in North Korea, the itinerary will be set by the North Korean tourism agency and you will be accompanied by North Korean tour guides the whole way. Assume that North Korea will know your correct nationality and will know of any significant connections you have to North or South Korea.* Assume that there is no problem getting away from your normal life for that amount of time.

Would you go?

Please state your nationality and if you have any East Asian ancestry or significant Korean connections, please specify.

  • By connections I mean stuff like having lived there, having close Korean relatives, being a professor of Korean history, etc.

My answers: Leaning toward yes, but I’m not sure. What a rare opportunity it would be, but traveling in North Korea can be risky for Americans, and while they don’t seem to have thrown any ordinary American tourists in the gulag, I don’t exactly trust them not to start now. North Korean prisons are exceptionally bad and it would be much harder for the U.S. to get me out than it would if it were somewhere else. I’d be willing to follow their rules, but there’s a pretty good chance I’d do something “disrespectful” despite my best intentions. I’m not the best at hiding my feelings, and I could see myself making a snarky remark to the wrong person. Chances are I’d make it through okay, but that’s far from certain. I find North Korea fascinating, so I’d love to see it in person, but it might be just too upsetting. Visitors have reported that the NK guides try to keep visitors from seeing anything but the best the country has to offer, but even the best is pretty bad and not everything can be hidden. Reports also indicate that I’d spend the whole time uncomfortable and wishing for something palatable to eat. I guess the actual risks are low, but it just seems like a terrible idea. Still, I’d definitely want to see it for myself. Come to think of it, the most significant risk would be that nobody here in the U.S. would be willing to talk to me after the trip because I’d never shut up about it.
I’m a U.S. American living in the U.S. with no East Asian heritage or significant Korean connections.

I’m an American and I would go. I have no Asian ancestry nor did anyone in my immediate family fight in Korea. It’s a forbidden land, it’s the Tibet of the 21st century.

I’d go in a minute. A have a friend who has been twice, and he had an interesting time. At the very least, it’s good bragging rights.

I think the chances of getting in trouble are next to nil, assuming you aren’t actively trying to get thrown in jail.

Yes. I’m American with no Asian heritage. I don’t expect the ‘official’ tour to be impressive since those are highly managed and just for show but very few people get to visit NK. I find the country extremely interesting in a train wreck sort of way.

Yes! It would be fascinating.

I’m a Kiwi/Brit with no Asian or American heritage.

I wouldn’t go. There is nothing there I want to see. My father fought in Korea during the war, and I wouldn’t trust them to not make an issue of that. I agree it’s a fascinating country, in the same way the Scilly naval disaster was fascinating, but I would never go there and risk offending the ruling tyrant or his brainwashed minions. I doubt I could keep my mouth shut. I used to love bombing the country back when I played F-117 Stealth, though. DOS games… good times.

No thanks. The rulers are dangerous nutcases, and I have no confidence that they wouldn’t do something stupid while I am there, so a war breaks out and they hold me hostage. It would be like touring Iraq.

I am an American, and both my kids are from South Korea, and ten thousand miles is not far enough away for me to feel my family is safe. It was bad enough when my kids visited South Korea - I was worried WWIII would start while they were meeting their birth mothers.

Bring me back a T shirt, though.


If I can smuggle out a street orphan in my luggage.

Yup - I’ve been to the DPRK on a tour so, yes, I would (and have) visited. I had a great time.

Yes, I’d go. I visited the USSR in its final year or two, the comparison would be interesting.

British, no Korean or Asian connections.

How did you end up going? I know you’re in the Middle East somewhere, but are you an American by birth? Something else?

I’d go, just to see whatever I was allowed to. I’m American, no Asian ancestry.

But I was in the Army, and spent a year in South Korea. It was thirty seven years ago, so would they know that? I was far enough north once that the hills I saw on the distant horizon were supposed to be North Korea.

While there two American military officers were murdered at the DMZ by NK’s Our bases were locked down and we were all on full alert for some time. When I made a radio call home I was told, before being allowed to call, that if anyone asked how things were going, just to say “everything’s fine!” That is when I started to get creeped out.

Wouldn’t I have to go 10 days without Internet then? I don’t want to do that. Otherwise, yes, probably.

American, no Asian ancestry or Korean connections, and I’m honestly not sure. Leaning towards yes, out of sheer curiosity, but I really, really don’t want to support the regime in any way.


No urge whatsoever to see that fucked up country.

No. Not at all interested.

American of European ancestry; no Asian connections.


American, no relations to that part of the world, but that has nothing to do with it, there are plenty of places over there I’d happily visit, others I’d consider, but not that place, nuh uh, no way, no how.

Sure. It’d be fascinating to see first-hand.

No. Because everything I’d hear would be scripted propaganda. Everything I’d see would be manipulated and fake. I don’t think I’m brave enough to say or do anything that would get me imprisoned. But having the fear hanging over me for 10 days is not my idea of a good time.

Also, assuming it was DRPK paying my way, I would feel like accepting the trip would be tacit approval of the government. It would be like taking “blood money.”

If I’m going to go traveling somewhere, I don’t want to have a guilty conscience. And I have read and watched enough about DRPK to know all I really need to know about it.