North Korea Travel Guide
North Korea Travel: General Information
Look at the beautiful photographs of the Geumgangsan Diamond Mountains with their 12000 jagged pinnacles or at those of the very picturesque Mt. Baekdusan with the azure Cheonji Lake filling the crater of the dormant volcano, and you will be at once tempted to take a trip to North Korea. The tourist heaven visited by countless tourists every year has more for you – there is the lure of the nation’s imperial history and culture.
The much planned cities of North Korea and their modern attractions like The Juche Tower, The Palace of Culture and Ryugyong Hotel deserve to find a place in your itinerary. Before you go ahead with your plans of touring North Korea, however, you must have this clear idea that independent traveling is not allowed in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Tours are conducted by government-recognized Tourism Organizations; with one or two tourist-guides to guide you at every step, you will yearn for a little freedom, but when you see the same guide(s) speaking to you in your mother-tongue, you will be relieved.
North Korea Travel: Key Facts
Capital city: Pyongyang
Area: 120,540 sq km
Monetary Unit: North Korean Won
Official Language: Korean
International Dialing code: 850
North Korea Travel: Popular Tourist Destinations
- Pyongyang: Pyongyang, the capital city of DPRK, is a tourist’s dreamland with its platter full of things to see and do. While the Botongmun and Daedongmun gates and the tomb of King Dongmyeong give you glimpses of the ancient city, the modern Communist-regime structures like the arches of Triumph and Reunification, amaze you with their no-frills architecture. Pyongyang’s Rungrado May Day Stadium is the largest stadium in the world, but the city also has a botanical garden and a zoo apart from its Art Museum and Revolutionary Museum. You can expect some epicurean pleasures in Pyongyang in the form of its cold noodles and cold rice, which are usually served with soups.
- Kaesong: Kaesong or Gaeseong, the base of DPRK’s light industries, is the ideal destination for some Nature-viewing combined with historic tours. The capital city of the Goryeo rulers, Kaesong has sites belonging to that particular period of history like the Kaesong Namdaemun Gate, the Seonjukgyo Stone Bridge, the ruins of the Manwoldae Palace, the Goryeo-era Confucian Academy (which has now been turned into the Goryeo Museum) and other Goryeo-period structures. Then, there is also the famous Pakyeon Falls and Kaesong’s History Museum.
- Other Popular Destinations: The highlights of North Korea tourism, however, are its unspoiled natural attractions like the Geumgangsan Diamond Mountains, Mt. Baekdusan, Mt. Guweolsan and Mt. Myohyangsan. Each of these is unique and is more like a complete eco-system with diverse topography and abundant flora, fauna and marine life. One or two among these destinations even have historic and religious sites.
North Korea Travel: Economy and Infrastructure
North Korea has a centrally planned economy with government-control over the various economic sectors. The industrial sector, comprising industrial ventures like armaments, chemicals, food-processing, machineries, tourism, etc., is the most vital sector and accounts for the highest share of GDP. The agricultural sector has shown improvements in the recent years but it still runs behind the services sector in terms of sector-wise contributions to the GDP.
North Korea has a sound communications and transportation infrastructure; of course, this is not the only beneficial aspect of the DPRK’s nationalized economy as it also pledges social security to the people in the form of food ration, free education and healthcare services, etc. The quality of life index is showing an upward mobility in spite of the existing limitations.
North Korea: Culture
North Korean culture is an offshoot of Korean culture (which has a history of about 3000 long years). The uniqueness of North Korean culture is the incorporation of Juche’s ideology (introduced by DPRK’s beloved leader, Kim II-sung) to give North Korean culture a typical political-flavoring. North Korea’s literature, music and films, etc. have thus become a medium of eulogizing Communism and the great Communist leader and also to arouse collective consciousness among the masses.
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