Tag

North Korea travel

Freedom’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Say

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This is the eighteenth and final instalment in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here One “special request” we filed with our minders was to be permitted to walk into Pyongyang unescorted, perhaps as far as the railway station and back. Much to our surprise, they said it was possible. They had already added several of the places we asked to see–a...

North Korea—The DMZ Too

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This is the sixteenth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here Our presence on the wrong side of the frontier caused a mild scramble among the South Korean forces. Frantic radio messages were dispatched. Binoculars were trained on us. Reinforcements jogged over to take up positions half-concealed by the corners of buildings, where they conducted a whispered conference and...

Coming Down Hard in the Demilitarized Zone

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This is the fifteenth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here The highlight of my time in North Korea—the moment that made all the badgering and propaganda worthwhile—was our visit to the Demilitarized Zone and the truce village of Panmunjom. This thin line bisecting two worldviews is the last Cold War frontier, and the world’s most heavily defended border. The...

Propaganda Gets Me Down

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This is the fourteenth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here The Arch of Triumph commemorates North Korea’s liberation from the Japanese occupation at the end of World War Two. It looks an awful lot like the Arch in Paris, but of course Pyongyang’s Arch was deliberately built to be 3 meters taller… North Korea doesn’t acknowledge the Pacific War...

Spending National Liberation Day in North Korea

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This is the twelfth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here Our escorts chose National Liberation Day—the holiday celebrating Korea’s liberation from the Japanese occupation of the Second World War—to make our obligatory visit to the Grand Monument on Mansudae Hill. There were a lot more people than normal in the streets of Pyongyang, and the sun blazed down with a...

A North Korean Shopping Mall

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This is the eleventh in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here It took me nearly a week to realize why Pyongyang felt so much like a stage set. It wasn’t just the marble monuments and the enormous public buildings, the empty ten-lane streets and the weird scarcity of people. It was the almost total absence of shops. In all our bus rides through the city, I’d...

Inside the North Korean School System

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This is the ninth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here One of my creepiest experiences in North Korea was a tour of a primary school. Our bus pulled into an empty, cheerless concrete schoolyard, and we were marched up to the principal’s office. I had immediate flashbacks of all the times I’d spent in the office as a kid, and the string of suspensions I...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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