Just got back from the DPRK. I'll be happy to answer any questions
Went on the rason tour.
Tour package was like 950$ or something. it was 4 days 5 nights. Had to get in via Tumen in northeast China, so I booked a flight from USA to Yanji that was about 900$ or so. You can get there cheaper, but I'm on holiday from work so I can't be flexible with the days, therefore flight was the easiest and quickest option. There are a few souvenir shops, but I spent no more than about 60-80$. There is not much to buy. I tried to get a Korean at the art gallery to sell me a propaganda painting, but she said they weren't for sell. Disappointing because those paintings are sick
Going to resize as I upload them. Bout to go to bed since I got work in the am. I'll upload a few now
guides were very strict about taking pics, and taking the pic of the people/workers was difficult, so bare with me with the shit pics
I'll upload more if the thread is alive tomorrow
At work now, so i'll upload pics later
>Are you expected to hand them money and cigs at the end of each day?
I didn't realize I/we're were going to have multiple guides, and some of the pre-tour info said to spend like 10euros on a gift for them. They did point out that they like western cigarettes. I ended up buying them chocolates, cigarettes, bourbon and gave it two my first two guides. Our western guide, who was hardly a guide and more like a facilitator than anything, asked us towards the end for some money for the guides. For example, we had three guides on our bus, but she asked me to give 100rmb; that's less than 20$.
The food wasn't bad at all. I was near the coast a lot so a lot of seafood. Octopus, fish. Kimchi, sprouts, seldom chicken, but we did get pork and beef a few times. Spinach, tofu, rice and soup was always served too. I did manage to take a pic, ill upload later
In that picture, the tour bus was on the left and the other people of the group were there. The koreans are curious, but warm. They would smile and wave.
No. Very strict. Absolutely nothing to do, and the itinerary must be followed. If you luck out and get in with a cool group of people like I did, then sure the tour can be much more enjoyable. Itenrary is shit, but I went there to see the country and see the people more than anything, even if most of the time youll be on a bus.
It was difficult to take pics. They were very strict about pictures and did not want us taking pics of the people, specifically the workers/farmers. I still don't get it because they looked fine - the only issue was that a lot of the work that was being done can obviously be done by machine. Their life is very laborious, but I imagine simple. I'll post more pics of people later. I did manage to get a lot of pics without them noticing.
Doesn't look like it is on the site anymore - maybe since we just did it and they are only showing the ones for the next year? Anyone, this one resembles the one I went on: http://www.youngpioneertours.com/tours/spring-north-east-tour
>Why not take the chance to post with Korean flag on /int/?
I really wanted to. Very few people in the country have internet access
Yes, by myself. The people in the group were really cool. You can't meet people. The guides are very strict and are always keeping an eye on you. I imagine if you could speak korean and a guide sees you talking to a local, shit can get pretty fucking ugly if you're at the wrong place and the wrong time. We just hung out with ourselves. You weren't allowed to leave the hotel once they dropped us there. I mean, there were a few times I or some other people would leave a restaurant to go outside and just look around, and we would say hi and wave to locals.
3 clapistanis (myself included), new zealander, australian, german
I've been asking myself that same question because I've been wanted to go see the country for years. Is it worthwhile, I would say yes because being there and seeing everything with your own eyes actually changes your perspective on the country and many questions arises and some get answered. Would I recommend it for the cost? That's difficult to say. This specific tour package, probably not. I felt it was a bit expensive for what we did. We were just driven around in a bus to see schools, statues, and a few other important sites. I'm sure there are other tours that are more expensive, but let you see/do more and those may be worth the price. Then again, the area I saw is unlike other parts of the north korea(rason) - Rason and the surrounding areas are seen be few. A similar tour in another country would probably be cheaper, given what we did/saw. But you get to see these people doing what they do - something that can only be experienced in person and I am very very glad I did.
Ultimately, I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get to see more of the culture and people, which is why I went, but seeing everything with your own eyes is priceless. I'll go back, but only after the country is a bit more free.
Oh I see, you didn't go to Pyongyang.
And by meeting people I meant people in the tour group. I just thought it would be good to know that you have someone to talk to during the trip. None of my friends would ever come with me.
Yea, my group of people were very cool. Going on a trip like this means you are likely to be with a group of people who have things in coming, traveling being the main thing. Almost all of the people in my group were well traveled. So there was plenty to talk about
Oh and another thing. Did you go by train or by plane? I would probably go by plane both ways but if you actually see some interesting stuff on the train trip, then maybe I'll change my mind.
I believe all americans have to fly into nk, with the exception of rason. But the tour you take will suggest how to get in
Why did you feel that way? Let me rephrase what I said. I'm glad I went and had the opportunity to experience a country I've been reading about for years, but I am disappointed that I didnt get to interact with the locals more and that the guides didn't talk more about their culture, something I knew in advance and expected. Disappointed cause the opportunity was at my fingertips. I know of how strict it is to be there. I wasn't thrilled about the tour I booked, the itinerary was not the appeal. The appeal was that I could get into the country and see it first-hand. It was an incredible experience, and I definitely will never forget it.
btw, the women are very pretty. And the children are absolutely adorable.
>btw, the women are very pretty
I'm interested in this. Do you have any photos or personal comments/stories? Chris Marker was invited to photograph North Korea just after the war ended, he'd been given total freedom and did great photographic justice to the opportunity but the thing that always stuck with me was his portraits of the women and their "mesmerizing beauty," his words:
>Then Time froze on that country whose culture had fascinated me, as well as the mesmerizing beauty of its women, while the megalomaniac leadership of both Kims had proven a disaster.
Unfortunately very few pics, if any.. It was difficult to take pics there. This image doesn't do her justice.
Rason, yeh, I liked it. But loved North Hamgyong Province more.
In the mountains (like in Chilbosan) there is a "trumpet" sign in a lot of corners. It's for the driver to press the horn so that people on the other side are alarmed.
Cus you can't see what's on the other side. Of course we were the "lucky" ones to have an overheated bus right in a corner in Chilbosan. Took like 3 hours before we could go again. Well it was nice to play the traffic agent in the DPRK I guess. lel
Thanks for this thread, OP. We don't have enough threads like this--where people actually share their experience and their photos--and for it to be North Korea makes it even more interesting.
I think the people's lives there must be very dull and hard--at best. And I know that in often unknown places unspeakable horrors happen there, but at least from your pictures, it looks clean and peaceful. Please dump any other pics you may have.
How much did you converse with your guide?
These are some really high quality shots. Did they let you take a full-blown DSLR or was it a smaller, compact camera? I hear they won't let you use anything that looks to "advanced" to take photos or videos but that was a while back (2007).
Btw very jelly that you went to visit the DPRK OP.
Yea same here. Country must be beautiful in the summer.
like >>1048021 said - we drove though chilbosan and there were on the curves. Drivers was taking these corners are crazy speeds while honking the horn. It's obnoxious really.
Very laborious. However, I think probably simple. I didn't converse much with my guides, but moreso because the other people in my group usually asked questions I might of had. Obvious topics of discussion such as political prisons, defectors etc were asked by our western 'guide' to not ask. The guides were not that fluent in English, which was difficult many times especially when a tour member would ask long questions. Sometimes you had to repeat yourself or ask differently. The better their english, the more they communicated.
Yea, dslrs are ok. Before going, we were told that professional video cameras were not allowed. I brought a nikon d5100, 18-55kit, 55-200kit, and a 11-16kit. Is there something preventing you from going? For the record, they can sometimes be very very thorough at customs, and they def won't skip out on checking your pics. I managed to sneak my sd card out so I didn't have to delete pics. They were really adamant about not taking pics of workers in the field or with oxen etc
yea i've read about 300mm restrictions.
>Is there something preventing you from going?
Money, though for less than $1000 I could probably do it one day in my life.
But why I ask about cameras is that I'd like take my 650D with me if I ever went, though any sort of video equimpment would probably have to be left at home since "pro" video gear is forbidden.
Yeh, respect to the bus drivers in the DPRK. I already respected them on the highway to Kaesong/DMZ, but in Chilbosan it was really crazy. If I were to drive a bus there, we would die at the first curve.
Also, loved the guides and how close we were from day one. Calling each other dongji/dongmu (comrade). Loved this man, Ri-dongji! The most hurting part is we can't stay in touch, and doing a return trip every year costs a bit too much. Yes, I am legitimately sad about that.
save up. the experience will be worth the price
That's not pro video camera. I was referring to this http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Pro-Camcorders-Cameras/ci/1881/N/4256818814
Yea they were very friendly. I want to visit the country again in like 5-10 years to see how significant the changes are
If it were possible. I would love to date the young classy girl on the right. Loved her!
Yeh same here. I went twice in a row now (2014 and 2015). It's gonna cost too much to go every year, but I definitely want to come back again in a few years. Maybe new destinations are "unlocked". The country is opening up a lot more. North Hamgyong is like Pyongyang 10 years ago according people who've been there back then.
I just wish it was possible to stay longer and take more time to chill with the people and guides. That's what I actually enjoyed the most.
I envy certain tour guides and photographers for being able to visit so regularly. I would do anything to do something in the DPRK.