Couple of random examples:
* Walking around Pyongyang in the winter. 
* Going to a computer store in Pyongyang. 
They used to sell imported goods like TVs, bicycles, cameras, typewriters etc etc, but only in exchange for American Dollars.
You couldn't legally buy American Dollars in Poland - the only way to legally obtain them was to have them sent over from abroad by a relative(you could buy them from the national bank for business, but it was a massive pain to get the necessary permissions).
I just think it's interesting, as the experience looks similar, except that the korean store takes korean won. On the other hand, I imagine only members of the korean elite are allowed in that store, while anyone could at least enter a PEWEX and marvel at the imported goods.
In the winter video, a few things jump out at me:
- The environment seems depressingly spartan and utilitarian. Everything is drab. And yet this it he capital city.
- Virtually no one is walking with anyone else. There are a few exceptions, but it looks as if conversation is essentially absent when out and about.
- In a manner, it's boggling to consider where all of these people are coming from and going to. With no commerce, every building looks like it might as well be an apartment building. The feeling I get is like watching the rote movement you would see in a computer simulation of a city. A lot of movement, but with what purpose?
- Even though there is only very minimal traffic, it seems like crosswalks are not common, so the Youtuber keeps using pedestrian underpasses.
They're walking for transportation. Consider that in the US most cars on the road have only one occupant.
Big roads with lots of space between high rise building blocks. Not a lot of shops or other activities on the side or roads designed to move people, not keep them "idling."
Any idea what's up with that? Am I interpreting the price wrong?
We had something similar here (former Czechoslovakia, Tuzex shops) and probably in most of the other socialist countries (eg. Poland, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pewex).
The only way to pay in these stores was to use special cheques. These were obtainable only in exchange for "western money", typically US Dollars, British Pounds, or German Marks.
And of course, there was a black market for them, with prices going as much as five times their nominal value (80s in Czechoslovakia, don't know about Poland and others, but I imagine it was quite similar).
Personality cult propaganda doesn't count as "advertising"?
"#NOTE: I am not a diplomat and didn’t work for embassy.#"
I have no doubt that a small number of foreigners live and work in North Korea, move around freely without minders, and are allowed to have cameras and make videos, but how do they get the footage out? Even if they work at some university and have access to the internet, I very much doubt it's unrestricted like that.
I am willing to believe some of them might smuggle it out, but this guy walks around and behaves like it's nobody's business.
Secret footage shot by an activist inside north korea.
markets inside a north korean town
dead bodies of people who tried to escape in the yalu river
Obviously, they were unable to accept Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.
Imagine every visitor to the US was escorted by a government employee, with background surveillance attached. It would cost a fortune!
NK is not exactly resource-constrained on labour. As others have pointed out, the visits are a valuable source of foreign currency. (And propaganda - the number of people in this thread uttering variations of "that doesn't look too bad" is staggering).
On a related note, several tour companies across Africa offer overland tours including a 73-day journey across 10 countries in Eastern and Southern African countries  and a terrifying 27-day trip across the western edges of the Sahara Desert [4, 5, 6].
 100 Photos Inside North Korea – Part 2 (http://www.earthnutshell.com/100-photos-from-north-korea-par...)
 100kms outside Pyongyang - North Korea (https://youtu.be/zCjpxZDTyqs)
 Nairobi to Cape Town Overland Tours (https://www.absoluteafrica.com/The-Absolute-Safari/AS71)
 Mauritania 2013. Exploring West Africa by expedition truck (https://www.flickr.com/photos/128667255@N04/sets/72157649867...)
 Overland West Africa - MAURITANIA - 2013-2014 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRHiAXjyHTk)
There's a fascinating photoset from 2008 by some Europeans who through a bureaucratic miracle were allowed to enter and cross North Korea by train: http://vienna-pyongyang.blogspot.com/2008/09/khabarovsk-khas...
> Most tourists only experience the political smokescreen of Pyongyang; I had the privilege in visiting all corners on one of the longest tours ever executed (no pun intended) for foreigners into the hermit kingdom.
Photos from an officially supervised tour, yes, but limited to Pyongyang, definitely not.
But still fascinating!
That said, I struggle with this question. In some ways you're absolutely correct. My personal struggle: North Korea has a chain of restaurants abroad, and I walked by one quite often while I was in Bangkok. Out of (morbid) curiosity, I would have loved to dine there and talk to the (very attractive) North Korean waitresses. I couldn't stomach giving the regime the $3 for the meal though.
In some ways, going to the NK restaurants supports the quazi-slavery of the workers in the restaurant. But in other ways, that spending enables the restaurant workers to live in Thailand and not North Korea. In the end, I decided not to visit, as I couldn't help but think of how I would feel about someone dining at a Nazi restaurant in the 40s. Difficult ethical questions though.
People often boycott and don't like visiting circuses or shows that generally abuse and exploit animals (elephant shows in Thailand come to mind). I can't see why visiting NK is any different.
EDIT> Is it moral to give money to a regime that has killed millions of its own citizens? I mean, unless you're secretly giving medical supplies to the poor, your money is only benefiting the elite.
This is really fascinating, albeit being an unintended consequence of disproportionate wealth distribution.
Though I suppose that is all for show and another word could be sterile.
of course why do you ask!