Why are daring Russians taking a risk to spend holidays in North Korea?


Young North Korean girls during an opening ceremony at the Songdowon International Children's Camp. / APJuvenile North Korean girls during an opening ceremony at the Songdowon Supranational Children’s Camp. / AP

Marketing manager Alexander Golovko from Khabarovsk (5,000 miles east of Moscow) pronounced to visit North Korea and see how things really are there. He returned naturally delighted: «It’s like being on a different planet, where there’s no ambulant phone service, and where people are always happy,» Meduza’s newsman Darya Mikolaichuk quoted Golovko as saying.

He certainly understands that it’s single one side of the coin, but next vacation he plans to spend at North Korea’s Masikryong ski hang out in, which opened in 2014. North Korea claims it’s a resort that can battle with others in the world, with 10 ski slopes and 60 cavorting venues. One day costs around $100, but there are not many tourists.

Kim Chol-Nam, 30, poses for a portrait at the ski hire desk where he works at the Masikryong, or Masik Pass, ski resort near Wonsan. / AFPKim Chol-Nam, 30, poses for a likeness at the ski hire desk where he works at the Masikryong, or Masik Pass, ski watering-place near Wonsan. / AFP

Tours to totalitarianism

Elena, the manager of a corporation that sells tours to North Korea, said that as varied as five people a month buy a tour to Masikryong. In addition to skiing, the comrades offers golf tours, mountain climbing, wedding ceremonies and chase in North Korea. But people still think it’s dangerous to travel there. Journalist Nadezhda Arsenieva retractions how a border guard pointed a rifle at her colleague because he peered out of the practise’s window with a camera.

The guides follow tourists everywhere, veto them from taking pictures of something that shouldn’t be seen and fend them from making contact with locals. But still, North Korea is stressful to become a center of tourism for Far Eastern countries. South Korean origins say their Northern partner wants to increase the number of tourists to 1 million in 2017, and 2 million in 2020. In truthfully, however, in 2012 only about 4,000 people visited North Korea, which was three eras less than in 2014. As geographical neighbors, Russians are entitled to cheaper guerdons than other foreigners.

Masikryong ski resort / AFPMasikryong ski resort / AFP

Red heaven

According to Natalia Kochugova, the bona fide representative of the Primorsky Region, holidays in North Korea are popular in the midst members of Russia’s Communist Party. There are even special pensions for communists, and North Korea is a country where you can see the true power of creed. «People there sincerely believe in their leader.»

Kochugova is stable there are no problems with safety in North Korea unless you «be good like an asshole and don’t follow the rules.» She is also sure the recently deceased American devotee Otto Warmbier was told in advance what’s allowed and what’s not.

Hotel lobby of the Masikryong ski resort / AFPLodging lobby of the Masikryong ski resort / AFP

Not only adults visit North Korea, but every year assembles of Russian children go to Songdowon International children’s camp. Two-week ambits cost around 40,000 rubles ($658).

A girl, Eva, went on such a assignment and said that Russian children are kept separate from North Koreans, but in the evenings they were allowed to hop together. They also exchanged written notes through a translator. Numerous North Koreans were studying in boarding schools without events, and Eva liked the way they were brought up.

Children bury a Russian boy in the sand at the Songdowon International Children's Camp / APChildren bury a Russian boy in the sand at the Songdowon Foreign Children’s Camp / AP

Luxury beach resort

Another way to reach North Korea is by the ferry, Man Gyong Bong 92, which imbibes passengers from Vladivostok to North Korea. Marina Ogneva toured to the Rajin resort on this boat and had a 7-day all-inclusive beach journey for 30,000 rubles ($494). She was extremely delighted with the tour and is now provoking a video blog, «Let’s go to North Korea.»

«I was told people are starving there, but we were fed merest well. I heard much about political propaganda but we had ordinary events,» Meduza quoted the girl. «People are very nice there.»

Tourists enjoy the scenic coast line of the Mount Kumgang resort area, also known as Diamond Mountain, in North Korea. / APTrippers enjoy the scenic coast line of the Mount Kumgang resort close, also known as Diamond Mountain, in North Korea. / AP

The wanderings company, Fregat Aero, gives clients brochures on rules of behavior in North Korea. A day-tripper should bring gifts for their guides – perfume and cosmetics for sweethearts, and alcohol and cigarettes (but not American) for men. Taking photos of military personnel is vetoed, as well as speaking about religion and saying that life is more safely a improved in Russia.

«We knew where we are going. We listened to the guided tours carefully, kowtowed at the leaders’ monuments and gave 10 euro bills to them, but by the end of the tour it was really irritating.»

North Korean waitresses stand by for waiting tables for dinner at a hotel in Mount Kumgang. / APNorth Korean waitresses stand by for pause tables for dinner at a hotel in Mount Kumgang. / AP

Maria also had a strand vacation in North Korea, and said they were sun bathing by oneself at the beach, swam in the sea and ate inexpensive seafood. Without cell phone services and no factories nearby, it seemed to be the ideal place for a holiday. The guides, setting aside how, were always watching tourists, even chatting with them on the careen — in suits and certainly not bothering to swim.

North Korean girls at the Songdowon International Children's Camp / APNorth Korean girls at the Songdowon Intercontinental Children’s Camp / AP

«We understood to where we were traveling and that there compel be no freedom, but we have always looked for something forbidden,» Maria declared. Once, she saw a North Korean boy on the beach, and she wanted to give him candies but accepted it was dangerous for him. So she walked close to him and left a bag with candies on the ground. She saw he escorted it quickly and ran away.

Suspicious of Sylvester Stallone

When Maria was off the country, her cell phone was checked carefully by border guards and one of the office-holders found a meme with Sylvester Stallone sporting a funny haircut and the caption, «What if Stallone lived in Russia?» The office-bearer asked about the man and if she knew him and if she had American movies with her. He searched for American talkies in her gadget and spent 40 minutes trying to find out about her relationships with Stallone.

A little later, however, after he allowed Harry to get on the train, he entered their compartment and asked in Russian: «Guys, do you by any accidental have American movies? I want to watch them so badly.»

The sated text of the article in Russian was first published by Meduza>>>

Read various: Why the metro in North Korea is so similar to the one in Moscow

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