>Go to North Korea if you can. It is very, very strange.
Is it really a good idea to go if you don't have a particular reason (such as this diplomatic trip)? I recall that most human rights groups recommended that tourists not visit Burma until recently so as not to support the regime. For someone like me who would only be going to satisfy my own curiosity, would I not simply be supporting the North Korean regime? I would be giving them money and possibly helping them in their propaganda efforts (see, look, at this American who has come to visit our great country!). I can't think of any ways in which my visit would be good or helpful.
And the second reason is that you can try to direct your money more to the people than government by staying and eating in small family establishments rather than pricy hotels that are almost always are controlled by the government.
That leaves your first reason, which seems like a very self-focused reason -- I could learn the same thing from visiting other countries (or spending time reading up on the many accounts of North Korea, particularly those who have escapes).
| The state North Korean tourist company KITC did
| not know in advance about our route. And we did
| not know what would really happen to us after
| arrival at Tumangan.
I do love that story though. It is a great testament to the effectiveness of the "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know I couldn't do that." excuse.
Thank goodness for that. The sooner the better.
When Myanmar opened up for tourism a few years ago, I was living in Thailand and considered taking a short trip. But I'm sure I read tourists were only allowed to stay in designated hotels. Am I wrong, or did those rules change?
Interesting; can you elaborate a bit?
Instead, I was greeted by warm, friendly people. Waitresses would giggle as they sang karaoke, smiling as they tried to get the tourists and their guides to dance with them. Our driver, who didn't speak a word of English, would occasionally crack a joke and cackle to himself.
Sometimes I almost forgot that I was in a Communist dictatorship for a bit, only to be quickly brought back. During a visit to Pyongyang's finest maternity hospital, my father (a doctor) had a lengthy chat about various medical techniques with the doctor that was showing us around. Seemed to be a completely normal conversation until she would add in that these machines were there due to the kindness of Their Great Leader Kim Jong Un, who visited x years ago.
Kids at amusement parks wanted pictures with us. Preteen girls giggled to themselves at my sight. Our guides had fun play-swordfighting with my dad in medieval Korean costume at a movie studio. Even the local guide who showed us the USS Spy Ship Pueblo was very friendly while describing the imperialist crimes of America. Our guides seemed genuinely pleased to share their culture with us.
Now, this might all be the result of selection bias -- most of these interactions were with tourism employees--guides, waitresses (in the special for-tourists-only restaurants we visited), and flight attendants. It's possible these men and women hated our guts and pretended for our money. As I said in a previous comment, their curiosity at our opinions of the war was rather fishy. But I think it'd be exceptionally hard to fake it that well. At least I hope it was genuine, as it made me really feel for these friendly people trapped under a terrible regime.
But, what are the chances that your time there will really shed any more light on North Korea? Encouraging friends to read "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea", for example, or simply reading it or another similar book yourself and sharing your thoughts would arguably shed more light than a brief government managed trip and a blog post.
Edit: I'd love to hear why you disagree rather than just downvoting. I've wondered about making this trip myself in the past and this is where I've settled, but would be happy to hear further arguments.
She has now ended this opposition to tourism in Burma.