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I went to Burma for two reasons. First, the country isolated from the rest of the world can be an eye-opening experience. If you are, say, North American, and all you go is Western Europe you will never quite learn to appreciate what you have. To me the biggest surprise was how warm, cheerful and hospitable Burmese people are, in a country where poverty is rampant, infrastructure is almost non-existent and freethinking is oppressed.

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.




You might have been able to do that in Burma. I know people who have travelled to Burma, Cuba, and other places and made similar arguments that I sympathize with. But you can't do that in North Korea: you can't go stay in small family establishments or choose where to eat. The entire trip is managed by the government and even trying to give money or talk to anyone about politics is probably risking the life of the person you talk to.

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).

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It's difficult to do, but these guys did it -- http://vienna-pyongyang.blogspot.com/

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No, they did not. Their NK part were arranged by KITC, the governmental travel agency of the DPRK.

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  | 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.

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Right, what they saw and experience while on the train was uncensored. Everything afterwards was planned.

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.

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Burma was never really clamped down like NK, heck, even Cuba isn't really clamped down. NK is probably the harshest state in the world with respect to freedom, and that alone probably makes it an interesting and unique visit. Ya, you are giving Kim Jong Un some money, but...if it would be an eye opening experience neh? If NK ever opens up, you won't have the oppurtunity every again!

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> If NK ever opens up, you won't have the oppurtunity every again!

Thank goodness for that. The sooner the better.

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I agree with your arguments about North Korea. I was specifically answering the statement about Burma. And I agree that the first reason is very self-focused, because I believe that every change to the world around you starts with a change to yourself (corny, but still true).

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> 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.

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?

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I am from Myanmar (currently living in Singapore) and I don't know any of such rules.

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If you are, say, North American (I'm not), don't you have those kinds of environments much closer for example in Guatemala? Maybe it's not at all the same thing and even more dangerous.

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Quite different Guatemala is chaotic and dangerous, DPRK is the exact opposite: repressive and actually very safe (as long as you know..you don't do something the gov hates). Or in D&D terms, think about the differences between Chaotic Evil and Lawful Evil.

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I've been to Guatemala too :-) And it is quite different. I did not get a sense of oppression in Guatemala, but unlike Burma some places felt really unsafe (because of petty and organized crime, not national or political tensions that are present in some regions of Burma).

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