Communist North Korea announced it is opening up the country for tourism for Russians and called it “safer than an evening walk in London,” according to Reuters.
A Russian travel agency licensed by North Korea’s government now offers organized tours for a group of up to 10 to “show the travelers the multifaceted life of this most closed of countries.”
Reuters reported that each guest traveling to the communist country must first be “checked” and will be accompanied by North Korean minders to ensure “adequate behavior of the tourist and guarantee his safety.”
Pictures of military instillations are banned and talking to North Korean citizens for lengthy periods of time is “not recommended.”
According to Reuters, North Korea is attempting to open up a tourism industry due to a dire financial situation. During weeks of trading threats with the U.S. over North Korea’s continued development of nuclear missiles, Washington passed sanctions on North Korea that drove the country’s economy further into crisis.
Reuters reported that the most expensive tour is a 15-day “full immersion in the culture of North Korea” that will cost 118,090 rubles ($1,997). Guests will be taken to a farm, a mineral water factory, and a Buddhist temple. Tourists will also be taken on a walk through the mountains and allowed to try North Korean dishes.
Party in the front, suffering and starvation in the back
North Korea is no stranger to putting on an image of peace, harmony, and wealth to guests they allow into the country. The state-wide display they put on for tourists and reporters rivals most Hollywood productions.
The Korea Risk Group revealed recently that North Korea makes room for various religions in its constitution and has various types of churches in its cities, including an Islamic mosque.
However, these churches are nothing more than state-run show pieces filled with hand-picked actors to play the parts of clergy and worshipers. In truth, the persecution of religious groups has put thousands of believers in work camps where they are tortured and brutally killed.
In May, Pyongyang invited reporters from all around the world to cover the opening of Ryomyong Street, a series of 3,600 flats in various high-rises. The impressive, gleaming buildings were supposed to be a symbol of North Korea’s power and independence against the U.S. and United Nations. The high-rises — the tallest of which is 70 stories high — were built within a year.
However, insiders revealed the buildings are shoddily crafted and unsafe. North Korea did not possess the necessary materials to complete the buildings and cut corners to save both supplies and time. Reports surfaced that the government mandated donations of metal from citizens, threatening punishments if they didn’t.
Furthermore, experts said Pyongyang’s infrastructure couldn’t handle the plumbing and electricity demands these buildings put on the city. The experts pointed to similar buildings in North Korea that experienced frequent power shortages and water that couldn’t reach the upper floors.
Apparently, North Korean officials knew this as well. The flats were meant to be given to President Kim Jong Un’s loyal regime members and government officials, but few wanted to move into the buildings for fear of their comfort and safety.
According to Newsweek, 18 million of North Korea’s citizens are starving, and the cuisine presented to tourists in their “full immersion” into North Korean life would be far and beyond the 300-gram rations most North Koreans get in a day.