There’s no way to sugar coat it. DON’T VISIT NORTH KOREA.
Those travel obsessed friends of yours probably have their heart set on visiting every country in the world. However, we’re here to tell you North Korea might just be one you want to skip. Seriously, these 12 reasons are EXACTLY why, and they’re anything but travel photo worthy…
See that one random light sitting by itself? That’s the capital city of Pyongyang. Here, the country’s “elite” have regular access to electricity (for only 2-3 hours a day), but anywhere else and you don’t even have wires going to your hut.
Caught many times selling guns, ammunition, and even nuclear components to rouge states and generally bad people, North Korea is definitely the bad kid on the block. For example, in 2012 the UN seized a North Korean shipment heading to Syria which contained nearly 450 graphite cylinders meant for use in ballistic missiles.
An estimated 200,000 people have been able to defect or leave the country, but this only represents the small minority that was “successful”. Instead the vast majority are caught and killed, returned by China and forced into permanent labor camps, or just “disappeared”. However if you do make it to South Korea (only ~24,000 have since 1954), they’ll literally GIVE you money and set you up with a job/counseling/place to live. They feel THAT bad you had to live in North Korea.
4.) North Korea’s Economy Is About The Size Of South Dakota’s.
The Ryugyong Hotel, the world’s first 100-plus story hotel outside of the US, was built to show off North Korea’s greatness to its citizens. The problem though is they ran out of money, and so it sat for ten years unfinished and uninhabited.
6.) North Korea Has The 4th Biggest Army…But Has No Navy.
North Korea basically has no good farm land. Everything sits on the edge of mountains or in terrible dirt. To fix this, North Korea has always relied on the generousity of other countries to provide fertilizer. But when that stopped in 2008, the people turned to the more “home grown type”. In fact, the government has made it a quota for people to supply a certain amount of their own fertilizer on a regular basis.
Because North Korea is essentially broke, they’ve turned in recent years to filing false insurance claims. Seriously. For example in 2005, it came to light that North Korea had taken out a HUGE insurance policy on a helicopter with international banks. When the helicopter supposedly crashed, they submitted a claim for $58 million!!!
Currently 16 labor camps are stationed in the country, holding an estimated 200,000 people prisoner. Described as a Soviet style Gualag, prisoners are held in brutal working conditions and executed for crimes as petty as stealing a few kernels of corn.
From 1994 to 1998, a famine struck North Korea that killed 10% of the population (3.5 million people). When it became truly bad, North Koreans turned first to their pets for sustenance, then crickets and tree bark, and finally, children.
In 1957, the original leader of the country separated the citizens into three tiers based on loyalty, and it had NOTHING to do with the person, but instead the family. Those in the top tier make up the elite, the second tier are left alone in squander, and the lowest are denied education, are not allowed to live in or near Pyongyang, and are forced into abject poverty (which is the vast majority of citizens).
North Korean law dictates that if you commit an offense, your family for three generations will bear your punishment. Since this usually means a lifetime in a labor camp (if not execution), that means children are regularly born in those same camps, and forced to work there for their entire lives as punishment. The most interesting offense to date involved Western movie DVDs that have been smuggled into parts of the country, which are illegal. The North Korean National Security Agency has begun raiding villages in the north of the country by shutting off the electricity to a whole village then storming into houses and checking which DVDs are stuck in the DVD player.