In a Nutshell: I visited North Korea in late 2014 and over 16 days ventured to all corners of this mysterious nation on one of the longest itineraries ever executed for foreigners. Here are 100 photos (part 1) taken during this visit to North Korea.
About: I’m Elliott. I’m the tour director at North Korea tour operator Uri Tours. I travel a lot myself, sometimes to the unusual, weird and wacky. Earth Nutshell is where I share my experiences. Interested in visiting North Korea for yourself? Shoot me an email at [email protected].
Awesome pictures. Thanks for showing them for us to enjoy seeing some of North Korea’s living conditions.
This was truly amazing, thanks for the detailed descriptions and beautiful photos. I’ve spent 5 months in South Korea in the past and even visited DMZ and the observatory, where I could learn and see a little about North Korea from the South Korea perspective (which is pretty much the western perspective). I still want to visit North Korea one day, but in the correct way, like you did. Visiting only Pyongyang wouldn’t be ideal.
Hi Andre, thanks for your comment.
Western perspective or not, it’s a fascinating story from both sides; each with their own validity and version of events – your DMZ trip is not to be belittled. I urge you to research, and sponge as much information as possible from both sides to come to your own conclusions. A visit to North Korea is enlightening, one that leaves Pyongyang – moreso. An open mind and respect is a requirement – some history lessons will compliment your own experience. Go into North Korea not as a novelty, but one as a giant puzzle you are to put together yourself.
wow its amazing…i enjoy it…..i want to travel the world also but it’s impossible…hahahah…i am always dreaming traveling and if i am giving a chance the first country i want to visit is south korea….that’s always my dream……hope that i can be with you for your next travel destination…..hahahaha….try to visit also here in Philippines….i am sure that you will enjoy also….
I just went for six days in May. It is still surreal to see photos others have taken knowing that these were also places I visited.
An identical painting of the elder Kims and all the children is located in the Children’s Palace in Pyongyang. I did not know there were tours where you were able to visit orphanages. I went through Koryo and we also went to Nampo and Kaesong.
It is very easy to get to North Korea, even if you are an American (I am). It is now very easy to take photos almost anywhere. They make it very difficult for you to get into any sort of trouble. At no time did I feel I was in danger, although I will say there were a couple of weird things that happened at the Yangkkado. Like my door magically opening after I tried calling the room [from another on my tour’s room] even though my roommate was still asleep. By the time he answered, the door was just open. A couple of maids also harassed me about a dirty towel, likely to get a few dollars from me.
Thanks for posting your photos. The DPRK is a f**ked up place, but western media distorts a lot of the little information they do have. I know since returning, my patience for many of the articles has reached an all-time low. Just little turns of phrase and such. I want more people to see that while the people do live under a totalitarian regime, they are not as clueless as we assume them to be. I don’t think I will ever understand the country (or that anyone outside of it can), and I returned home with more questions than when I arrived, but I do know that we are all human and when it comes down to it, all the same.
Hi Melinda, your comment was a great read – you’ve truly hit the nail on the head in that last paragraph in regards to Pyongyang and your share is appreciated. North Korea is the perfect target in hyperbole, it’s easily stereotyped and the novelty of some ludicrous claims end up being taken as fact in mainstream media – it sells. Most of the time, there is absolutely an element of truth; but it’s those “little turns of phrase” you mentioned that make the difference. It’s our own form of propaganda, what a stunning irony. From our perspective the human side can get lost in far-fetched claims; seemingly impossible for us to relate. But I promise you; there are an estimated 25 million people that live in North Korea – and they are just as human as we are, sheltered by an eternal political storm. It’s heartbreaking. yet shouldn’t be forgotten.
Thanks for posting.
Amazing photos! I had to go through them together. It is very interesting.
You are very brave to visit North Korea. I wanted to ask, how doe they look towards LGBT community ? Is it straight up forbidden or just not taken as “normal”?
Thanks for commenting Michael. The official story is that LGBT do not exist – as we all know, in reality this would be untrue. I cannot speculate directly whether community view is one of condemnation or apathy, and whether any aspects are welcomed at all by average citizens. All I know is that “Gay people do not exist in North Korea.”
Very much enjoyed this post. Glad you enjoyed your stay in the Great Land Given To Us By Supreme Leader Kim-Jong Un. Did you get to take any souvenirs – like a Kimjongilia?
Hi Andrew, great question – this was one that didn’t get covered in the Reddit AMA either.
In general, I really dislike the traditional souvenir – the Eiffel Tower key rings, then Rome fridge magnets; you know the drill. In North Korea, I didn’t expect souvenirs first and foremost, but…they were available, they were fantastic mementos and I simply couldn’t help myself.
Not a Kimjongilia (I don’t think customs would be too pleased!) but I ended up purchasing a number of foreign translated texts, propaganda postcards depicting warfare against Americans inclusive of ripped flags, destroyed USA jets and an American soldier staring down the barrel of a DPRK tank. I also purchased a CD containing such hits as “The Leader Will Always Be With Us”, “Song of General Kim Il Sung”, “Ode to Comrade Kim Jong Il” and “Our Leader Beloved of People”. A souvenir DPRK flag which got me into a bit of strife, a DVD depicting the militaristic traffic ladies named “A Traffic Conductors on Crossroads” (a lady on the front cover is holding a Kimjongilia!), a small stamp collection depicting the Songun (military-first) ideals, and a Pyongyang Times that had some hard to believe articles. Fascinating stuff.
I was tempted to buy some artwork too, it’s really beautiful and some select pieces stray away from propaganda. I actually met another foreigner who had been to North Korea 7 times; primarily to purchase more of their hand painted art masterpieces.
Very nice photos man, thanks for sharing your experience with us. It reflects the communism idioms in all of its possible forms.
No problem! It was great to share my experience with those interested to learn more.
Very interesting, good pictures. Thanks for showing them
Thank you for reading!
One of the best things on the internet! Thank you so much for sharing Elliott – your comments were truly fascinating.
That’s a huge statement! Cheers Albert, your words are encouraging.
How do you go about getting in to North Korea? Something you book through people in China, or does DPRK have some official way of getting in?
Hi Nils, thanks for your interest. I visited North Korea through Koryo Tours, it’s a British company based in Beijing, China and is the primary facilitator in getting western foreign tourists into the country. You must enter North Korea through China, there isn’t another option – you enter via plane, and leave via train. If you are American, you must leave via plane. It really is a simple case in shooting Koryo Tours an email, structuring an itinerary or basing it off one already on their site and then getting through the slightly long process, include background checks. Eventually; hopefully it turns into a Visa. Visa’s are separate from your passport, and are given to you by Koryo Tours on the day. You must enter the country on pre-approved flights under your tour umbrella, it’s not possible alone. Hope this helps!
Fantastic and fascinating, thank you very much for sharing!
Thanks for your encouragement, Michael!
Yes- The birthday cake was very nice.. I noticed we share the same birthday. Thank you for sharing your experience with the world.