Articles

North Korea invites Czech tourists. Thirteen days, eleven nights, fifty grand

In Politics, Travel on March 19, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

(c) Ahn Young-Joon/AFP

(c) Ahn Young-Joon/AFP

It is a magnet of this season and you shouldn’t hesitate if you want to go, a travel agent of an agency offering holiday in North Korea told me. The country, she said, is now offering group visa for European tourists.

Five nights in an all-inclusive hotel in Pyongyang.

But prior to that, three nights in Beijing, where the tourists can have “two days off” to arrange their own program, like the Forbidden City and other landmarks. And then they travel to North Korea by, big surprise, sleeper train.

And of course guided visits to all the creepy places everybody has heard about: museums, Demilitarized Zone, empty eight-lane boulevards with almost no cars.

CZK 50,000, i.e. some $2,300

It gets you thinking. How much of this money will actually go to the state budget from which the government finances its nuclear program, while regular people struggle with power outages, and lack of everything, including food, household needs… and democracy?

I was told that all groups of tourists are assigned a nice commie lady who follows them everywhere they go to make sure the foreigners only see what they can be allowed to see. And hear. And ask. And get answers to.

It is hard to swallow that you would pay some country to show you a place where its regime killed people in a military conflict.

A friend of mine who works in the United Nations repeatedly witnessed situations that might be described as “you can’t tell the North Koreans your truth about the human rights”.

A trip to North Korea for CZK 50,000 is for adventure seekers, so that they can say “Been there, seen that”. Not the best way to start the efforts to talk to the regime…

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