Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit North Korea every year, making it quite a popular tourist spot. Guided tours can cost from $1,000 to $4,000 dollars, depending on the length of stay, and more people are paying this cost in order to get a sneak peak into the most isolated country in the world.
“Did you ever see any tourists in North Korea?” asked Casey Lartigue, host of North Korea Today.
“A lot,” said Yeonmi Park, co-host of the show. Yeonmi escaped North Korea in 2009, and now lives in South Korea. “During the summer time, there is a big festival going on,” she said, “But the thing is . . . when they are coming, we have to pretend like we’re happy people.”
Yeonmi explained that when foreigners come, the government finally allows electricity into North Korea. They force the locals to paint the city to make it look beautiful, and to watch the festival every night. It’s all a show.
“We just pretend to be like, happy,” said Yeonmi.
Casey Lartigue asked, “So . . . is it ethical to go to North Korea?”
Yeonmi answered, “I think Kim Jong Un is a criminal . . . they’re all criminals. They are as worse as Hitler. They are dictators. They are killing lots of people right now. And when people say that, ‘I wanna visit North Korea to see the people there,’ but actually they’re just giving them money. They’re paying money for them. And then they go there, and they bow down in front of the criminals . . . who’s going to bow down in front of Hitler — right?”
Yeonmi continued, “This money is not going to the people, right? It’s going for the regime . . . I’m sure this is not the answer people want to hear from me. But I think it’s not ethical to go to North Korea,” said Park.
Host Casey Lartigue pointed out that there are organizations like Liberty in North Korea, and Justice for North Korea, and others, which rescue people from the country. For the cost of a tourist trip ($1000 – $4000), a charity can help someone escape.
However, Yeonmi advised caution, “They’re using this money for bad reasons. They are actually using that money for killing people . . . For tourists, it’s your freedom to go there. It’s your money. But you have to think about this. Your small action can kill lots of people, with that money.”
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