Can Brits Go To North Korea? Risk & Consequences?

London (Parliament Politics Magazine) – North Korea remains to be a mystery for everyone including Brits. Many travel companies may restrict or prohibit people from visiting North Korea. It is a mysterious country and travelers don’t intend to go there for a holiday either. You will be surprised to know that this country attracts very few visitors. Only 5,000 westerners normally go there every year through tourism agencies.

Currently, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) doesn’t advise you to travel to North Korea. All those who hope to visit the country rules by Kim Jong UN are normally a part of a tour group. Independent travelers may require special permission or sponsorship from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. However, all this is possible for business travelers only.

Flights Don’t Meet International Safety Standards

Travelers can enter North Korea by taking a direct flight from Beijing to Pyongyang. These flights are operated by Air Koryo that is a popular North Korean national airline. However, the risks don’t end here. Air travel to North Korea isn’t a safe option for the British. The majority of Air Koryo aircraft are not allowed to operate in the EU. The reason is obvious the flights don’t meet international safety standards.

You need a valid visa to enter North Korea. Apart from that you must register yourself with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is even more important if you plan to stay in their country for more than 24 hours. Plenty of hotels can complete this process automatically on the traveler’s behalf though. Moreover, your passport must be valid along with a clear purpose and time of stay. Travelers are not allowed to travel to North Korea directly from South Korea.

You Cannot Travel Without a Professional Tour Guide

British travelers must understand that traveling within North Korea can be extremely challenging. You must have a professional guide and cannot travel alone. Whether you are visiting for a business or recreational purpose, you must be accompanied by a guide. If the traveler doesn’t listen to the guide it is considered an offense.

If you are planning to travel outside Pyongyang it is the responsibility of the guide to take necessary permission. All the military checkpoints will not allow you to move very easily. They will check your ID card and only then allow entry or exit. It is up to the military officials whether they allow to you enter or exit.

There are no facilities like public transport for the tourists. You may find a taxi nearby your hotel or outside a departmental store, but that is an exception. However, they may not be ready to ride with you without permission from a local guide.

Travelers Must Remain Alert While In North Korea

The FCO has advised the Brits to remain alert if they are on a trip to North Korea. The daily life and activities in the capital city of Pyongyang may seem a little calm. However, the security situation can remain threatening no matter what time of the day. You will not be given a warning in advance by the North Korean authorities either. This can turn out to be a big threat to British visitors and residents alike. You need to observe the political and security situation before taking a move. It is necessary to remain in touch with your tour operator in case of confusion.

Travelers don’t have sufficient information when it comes to dealing with the threats in the country. If something goes wrong during the trip no one can come to your rescue. The British Embassy in Pyongyang can give some assistance to visitors. However, it will be limited to only some parts, especially the capital. When the traveler moves out of the city it doesn’t offer much safety either.

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Safety and Security In North Korea

The supreme leader Kim Jong-un doesn’t allow any crimes against foreigners in North Korea. However, security and safety are at stake even if you are traveling to this country. You need to take the necessary precautions and remain alert every second. The first and most important thing to know is that traveling within the country alone is prohibited.

At all times, you will be accompanied by your professional tour guide. Moreover, routine military checks are very common in North Korea. Foreign nationals must keep in mind that they don’t enter any restricted areas. One mistake from the traveler can lead to serious consequences. The crime rate may not be high but the political situation is not balanced.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.