Travel to North Korea – Episode 361

categories: asia travel

north korea mass participation games

Hear about travel to North Korea as the Amateur Traveler talks to Matt from England about his recent trip to this closed and insular country.

This may be one of the most unusual episodes of the Amateur Traveler as this may be one of the more unusual countries we have covered. The country was included in George W. Bush’s list of “the axis of evil”. While Matt will make a case that you absolutely should visit North Korea we will talk about some of the ethical considerations as well as some of the reasons you may not want to actually move to North Korea.

You can only visit North Korea on a tour and your itinerary will be very structured. Everywhere you go you will see monuments to Kim Jong-Un, Kim Il-sung, and Kim Jong-il the son, father, and grandfather dynasty that has ruled this country since 1912. You will also find that the supreme leader has opinions about everything you do, including how you take pictures on your trip. Crop that picture of one particular golden statue so that you don’t get the entire statue and you might get all your photos deleted when guards review your photos as you exit the country.

Matt visited the capital Pyongyang where people have to have specific dispensation to live, where everyone has a portrait of the supreme leader in their apartment, and where someone has the job to make sure those portraits are displayed, level, and dusted.

The highlight of the trip for Matt was the Mass Participation Games which are a “socialist realism extravaganza”. Before your trip Matt recommends you watch the documentary A State of Mind about the country and about the games in particular.

right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)

Show Notes

Matt from England
North Korea Travel Advice
Inside North Korea: The Nation Under Isolation
North Korea Film Studio
Arirang Mass Games


Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO, Buys Hawaii’s Island Air
In UK, street objects will talk back to passersby through phones
A parrot stole my holiday cash


Andy on London Travel to London, England part 2 – Episode 359
SXSW meetup?

Share this:
Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

5 Responses to “Travel to North Korea – Episode 361”



This was a fascinating interview. What a crazy place. I have two question:
1) What is the tour organization that Matt traveled with? Do they have a website?
2) Are Americans allowed on these trips?



This is quite possibly my favourite episode ever (and I’ve been a guest on a previous show!). Your guest was very engaging and very balanced in presenting his experiences in North Korea; most of what we hear about that country is ridiculous propaganda – from both sides.  I’ve always wanted to go see the country for myself; this episode has strengthened that desire.



Thanks for the positive feedback. We travelled with and yes US citizens are welcome to visit. Happy travels.



I agree this was a great interview. As well I feel Matt’s energy and descriptions were fantastic. I know we try to keep politics out of these posts, but I feel it is essential to remember  North Korea is a dictator ship. Google is just now recognizing  the prison camps on maps, people are starving and the rights for a citizen are appalling.  If you have time read the new book “Camp 14” to get another perspective. Tourism is so important even in North Korea since it is one of the only outlets for people to meet outsiders.  I am not sure though if the huge amount of money North Korea makes from tourism balances the small impact it has socially. Great interview and I don’t chastise, but like Burma this is not a destination I can see myself visiting any time soon. Thanks for the great interview Chris and Matt!

Pawel Piejko


As much as I love travelling (as well as this podcast), I think bragging about supporting a cruel communist regime with such a huge amount is irresponsible.

Leave a Reply

Tags: , , ,