From a long time observer, first time visitor. Here’s a few of my first impressions of North Korea.

  1. Openness with photography.

One of the great misconceptions associated with North Korea is the perceived strictness on taking pictures. A lot of what you see and read online describes the place as completely closed. This leaves one to wonder if you are even allowed to bring a camera into the country. It’s a question that frequently arises.

In reality you are free to take thousands of photos of practically anything you want. Within reason of course. Naturally off limits are military personal, checkpoints & construction sites. The latter being an issue because all construction in North Korea is undertaken by the army. On top of that, cameras are not checked when you leave the country.

 2. Stunning landscape.

The country is awash with incredible scenery. Some 80% of the territory is covered in mountains. It also boasts vast stretches of beaches and national parks. It is this scenic image that frequently goes unreported.

One only has an impression of drab concrete blocks, rockets launching and goose-stepping soldiers.

3. Welcoming people.

Contrary to what you see in the documentaries, your guides are incredibly warm & welcoming. They go out of their way to make you feel at home and by the end of the trip the bond is strong.

When it comes to people on the street, If you manage to break down the language barrier then locals are also eager to chat. Whether on the train, in a public park, or in a bowling alley, North Koreans are a shy but curious lot.

4. There’s lots to do.

And not just in the capital. Every year more and more towns and cities throughout the country are opening up to foreigners. One can explore every corner of the country. From Kaesong on the DMZ to Rason on the Russian border.

These are a few of my first impressions of North Korea. Any doubts? Then come and see for yourself on any one of our North Korea Tours!

Tour group on Mount Paektu, North Korea
On our VIP Photo tour