About North Korea
North Korea is one of the world’s most secretive and isolated countries. It’s a pretty interesting country because of its well-preserved culture and beautiful landscapes. North Korea is home to more than 25 million people, its ethnic groups are composed of Koreans, and small number of Chinese and Japanese. Traditionally, religion in North Korea consists of Buddhism, Korean Shamanism, Chondoism and Confucianism, but then around 64% of the population has no religion. People of North Korea live under a form of Communism – where private property and profit-based economy is replaced with public ownership which aims to make all people equal. North Korea isn’t really a country that many tourists and expats go crazy for. Primarily because getting through North Korea immigration can be really difficult and tourism is tightly controlled by its government. North Korea is a closed country, for what it’s worth, it has more likely disconnected itself to the world.
Nevertheless, If you’ve stumbled upon this article, you may be interested on going to North Korea, if you are, read on to learn more.
Things to know before going to North Korea
North Korea enforces strict migration policies over its visitors and its own people as well. First off, just like in any other countries, you will be required of a Visa when entering North Korea if you’re a foreigner. According to Passportindex.org, North Korea is the least welcoming country in the world as it requires all nationalities to acquire a visa to be able to enter the country.
Among many immigration and tourism policies of North Korea are the following:
- Passport must be valid until the duration of stay
- Visa must be arranged by an authorized travel company or recognized tour operator.
- Return ticket is a requirement especially if you’re travelling as a tourist
- Book a pre-planned tour with 2 North Korean tour operators that have to be specially appointed by the country’s Ministry of Tourism
- Travelling independently in North Korea is not allowed
- Walking around unaccompanied by guides is not allowed
- Taking photographs at certain locations may be restricted, as well as taking photos of any police or military personnel, especially their activities. Photos that show poverty, inequality or anything that could damage North Korea’s reputation are banned and must be deleted from your device.
- Going to North Korea from South Korea requires special permission
- Adults travelling with children must bring documentary evidences of parental responsibility
- Government security personnel strictly monitor any activities of a foreigner – from inspecting your belongings to checking your mobile phone, cameras and laptops.
- Bringing of any religious books and materials is not allowed, as well as sharing and practicing any religious beliefs.
- Journalists and photographers are discouraged to visit North Korea on tourist visas, instead, they are required to acquire a special journalist/mass media visa to be able to enter the country.
- Bringing of any publications, media products that criticize North Korea’s political system is not allowed
North Korea Visa Requirements
- Valid passport
- Full package tour plan that includes hotel accommodation, transfers, guides, meals, and a return ticket.
- Visa application form.
- Employment certificate
- University attendance confirmation for students
- Passport-size photos
- Signed consent letter that says your purpose of travel, the name of your tour operator, and declaration to acknowledge and confirm compliance with North Korean laws.
Visa Fee – this usually depends on the embassy, for example, in Beijing, visa fee is about 60 Euro.
These requirements are sent to authorized tour operators who will apply on your behalf for visa approval. Approved visa may be collected from the embassy or possibly have it shipped by your registered tour operator prior your departure to North Korea.
Is North Korea open to tourists?
Yes, but tourism in North Korea is tightly controlled by the North Korean government.
Can I become a Citizen of North Korea?
You can only become a citizen of North Korea by being born as one, by being born of a North Korean mother or father, by being born in any territory of North Korea or by means of Naturalization. Basically, citizenship in North Korea is granted by the Presidium of the Supreme Peoples’ Assembly. The process involves writing a formal application to the assembly – which will be reviewed and approved by Kim Jong-un himself – the country’s supreme leader. Honestly speaking, getting citizenship in North Korea is highly unlikely for any random person. Perhaps you are someone who could bring outstanding contributions to the nation’s prosperity, then you are most likely to be granted citizenship.
North Korea isn’t your typical tourist destination spot. According to Peter Walker – a journalist from The Guardian, it’s the most depressing place he’s ever been. In fact, the US State Department has long recommended against travel to North Korea. Still, an estimated 5000 Westerners visit North Korea every year. Should you really wish to go to North Korea, it’s best to contact the nearest Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to get further information and an immigration lawyer should you wish to apply for citizenship.