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Surviving a trip to North Korea

Surviving in North Korea can be daunting due to the country’s strict control measures and isolation from the rest of the world.

However, with the right precautions and knowledge, you can safely navigate your stay in the country. Here are some tips on how to survive in North Korea:

  1. Obtain the necessary visas: To enter North Korea, you’ll need two visas – one for North Korea and another for transit through China. It’s virtually impossible to enter the country through South Korea due to the ongoing conflict between the two countries. Additionally, attempting to enter North Korea through the Demilitarized Zone can be extremely dangerous as border guards have the authority to shoot intruders on sight.
  2. Book an official tour: As an individual, you are not allowed to travel to North Korea. Therefore, it is essential that you book an official group tour with a designated tour guide. While being on an official tour does not guarantee immunity from the law, it does provide some level of protection.
  3. Get vaccinated: Before travelling to North Korea, it is important to ensure that you are up to date on your vaccinations, especially for Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, MMR, and Japanese Encephalitis.
  4. Check your belongings: Before departing, remove any religious or political items from your luggage and avoid packing blue jeans. Upon arriving, authorities may inspect your belongings, including your phone and papers, for banned material. If you’re bringing medication, check to see if it’s legal in North Korea before packing it.
  5. Follow the rules for tourists: While in North Korea, it’s essential to follow them to avoid any potential legal issues. This includes avoiding making jokes about the country, its citizens, or its leaders, as this is illegal and can result in deportation or detention. You should also avoid speaking to other North Koreans unless authorized and stay with your tour group at all times. Only take photos of designated tourist sites, and always ask permission from your tour guide before taking pictures.
  6. Stay aware of your surroundings: North Korea is under constant surveillance, so the risk of being victimized by serious crimes is low. However, keeping an eye on your belongings and staying alert to avoid petty theft is still important.
  7. Be mindful of your actions: It’s essential to be mindful of your actions in North Korea as the consequences of breaking the law can be severe. This includes avoiding any behavior that could be perceived as a threat to the government or its leaders. It’s also important to respect the culture and customs of the country.
  8. Know what to expect: Understanding what to expect while in North Korea is essential. The country is known for its strict control measures, including censorship and surveillance, and you may be subject to random searches and interrogations. The country also experiences frequent power and water outages, and access to modern amenities such as the internet may be limited.
  9. Communicate with your tour guide: Your tour guide is a valuable resource for navigating the country and staying safe. Be sure to communicate any concerns or issues you may have with them. They can also provide valuable information on the local culture and customs.
  10. Have an emergency plan: It’s essential to have an emergency plan in place if something goes wrong while in North Korea. This may include having a local contact or embassy to contact in case of an emergency.

Following these tips can increase your chances of surviving and having a safe stay in North Korea. It’s important to remember that while the country can be challenging to navigate, with the right knowledge and precautions, you can navigate your stay safely.

Always communicate with your tour guide and have an emergency plan in place in case something goes wrong. Above all, be respectful of the local culture and laws to avoid any legal consequences.

Below I added 5 tips if you want to stay out of jail when visiting North Korea

  1. Breaking the law: It’s important to remember that North Korea has strict laws, and breaking them can result in severe consequences, including imprisonment. This includes making jokes about the country, its citizens, or its leaders, speaking to other North Koreans without authorization, and engaging in any behaviour that could be perceived as a threat to the government or its leaders.
  2. Taking unauthorized photos: Only take photos of designated tourist sites, and always ask permission from your tour guide before taking pictures. Taking photos of other locations or activities can be classified as spying and can result in legal consequences.
  3. Leaving your tour group: It’s essential to stay with your tour group while in North Korea. Attempting to leave the group can result in arrest and detention.
  4. Accessing banned material: Authorities may inspect your belongings, including your phone and papers, for banned material upon arriving in the country. It’s essential to be aware of what is and is not allowed in North Korea to avoid legal consequences.
  5. Disrespecting the culture and customs of the country: It’s essential to respect the culture and customs of North Korea while visiting. Disrespecting these can result in legal consequences and may also offend local residents.
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