Top 10 things to do in North Korea

North Korea

Orwell's worst nightmares come true.

North Korea is a country.

North Korea ( listen), officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK; Chosŏn'gŭl: 조선민주주의인민공화국; Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk), is a country in East Asia, in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. The capital and largest city is Pyongyang. North Korea shares a land border with China to the north and north-west, along the Amnok (Yalu) and Tumen rivers. A small section of the Tumen River also forms North Korea's short border with Russia to the northeast. The Korean Demilitarized Zone marks the boundary between North Korea and South Korea. The legitimacy of this border is not accepted by either side, as both states claim to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula.

Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. In 1945, when Japan was defeated in World War II, Korea was divided into two zones, with the north occupied by the Soviet Union and the south by the United States. Negotiations on unification failed, and in 1948 two separate governments were formed: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north, and the Republic of Korea in the south. The conflicting claims of sovereignty led to the Korean War in 1950. An armistice in 1953 committed both to a cease-fire, but the two countries remain officially at war because a formal peace treaty was never signed. Both states were accepted into the United Nations in 1991.

The DPRK holds elections and describes itself as a self-reliant socialist state, but it is widely considered a dictatorship and has been described as totalitarian and Stalinist, with an elaborate cult of personality around Kim Il-sung and his family. Human rights violations in North Korea are in a category of their own, with no parallel in the contemporary world as assessed by international human rights organizations. The Workers' Party of Korea, led by a member of the ruling family, holds power in the state and leads the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland of which all political officers are required to be a member.

Over time North Korea has gradually distanced itself from the world Communist movement. Juche, an ideology of national self-reliance, was introduced into the constitution as a "creative application of Marxism–Leninism" in 1972. In 2009, the constitution was amended again, quietly removing the brief references to communism (Chosŏn'gŭl: 공산주의).

The means of production are owned by the state through state-run enterprises and collectivized farms, and most services such as healthcare, education, housing and food production are state funded or subsidized. In the 1990s North Korea suffered from a famine and continues to struggle with food production.

North Korea follows Songun, or "military-first" policy. It is the world's most militarized society, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel. Its active duty army of 1.21 million is the 4th largest in the world, after China, the U.S., and India. It also possesses nuclear weapons.

Overall rating: 4.9
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Typical length of visit: 7 days

Top 10 things to do in North Korea

Pyongyang

Pyongyang
Pyongyang , Korean pronunciation: , literally: "Flat Land" or "Peaceful Land", approved: P’yŏngyang; several variants is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the largest city in the ...

Sonjuk Bridge

Sonjuk Bridge
Sŏnjuk Bridge is a Koryo-dynasty stone bridge located in Kaesong, North Korea. Built in 1290, it is famous as the place where famed Confucian scholar and statesman Jeong Mong-ju was ...

Hamhung

Hamhung
Hamhŭng is North Korea's second largest city, and the capital of South Hamgyŏng Province. In late 2005, nearby Hŭngnam was made a ward within Hamhŭng-si. It has a population of ...

Tomb of King Kongmin

Tomb of King Kongmin
The Tomb of King Kongmin, more correctly known as the Hyonjongrung Royal Tomb, is a 14th-century mausoleum located in Haeson-ri, Kaepung County just outside of the city of Kaesong, North ...

Kaesong

Kaesong
Kaesong is a city in North Hwanghae Province, southern North Korea , a former Directly-Governed City, and the capital of Korea during the Koryo dynasty. The city is near the ...

Complex of Koguryo Tombs

Complex of Koguryo Tombs
The property includes several group and individual tombs - totalling about 30 individual tombs - from the later period of the Koguryo Kingdom, one of the strongest kingdoms in nowadays ...

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, formerly the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, and sometimes referred to as the Kim Il-sung Mausoleum, is a building near the northeast corner of the city of ...

Sinuiju

Sinuiju
Sinŭiju is a city in North Korea, neighboring with Dandong City, China via international border and is the capital of North Pyeongan Province. Part of the city is included in ...

Heaven Lake

Heaven Lake
Heaven Lake in Korean; 天池 in Chinese; Tamun omo or Tamun juce in Manchu is a crater lake on the border between China and North Korea. It lies within a ...

Juche Tower

Juche Tower
The Juche Tower is a monument in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, named after the ideology of Juche introduced by its first leader Kim Il-sung. Juche is a blend ...

USS Pueblo (AGER-2)

USS Pueblo (AGER-2)
USS Pueblo is an American electronic intelligence and signals intelligence ship attached to Navy intelligence, which was boarded and captured by North Korean forces on 23 January, 1968, in what ...

Tomb of King Wanggon

Tomb of King Wanggon
The Tomb of King Wanggŏn, more correctly known as the Hyŏllŭng Royal Tomb, is a mausoleum located Haesong-ri, Kaepung-gun near Kaesŏng, North Korea. The tomb belongs to the founder of ...

Korea Central Zoo

Korea Central Zoo
The Korea Central Zoo, also referred to as the Pyongyang Central Zoo, is the national zoo of North Korea. It is located near Mt. Taesong in downtown Pyongyang. The zoo ...

Mangyongdae Funfair

Mangyongdae Funfair
The Mangyongdae Funfair is an amusement park located in Mangyongdae-guyok, 12 kilometers from Pyongyang, North Korea. It has an area of 70 hectares including a funfair and wading pool. In ...

North Korea Peace Museum

North Korea Peace Museum
The North Korea Peace Museum is in the building constructed to house the signing of the Korean War Armistice Agreement on 27 July 1953. It is located in the former ...

Arch of Triumph

Arch of Triumph
Arch of Triumph may refer to:Triumphal arch, a structure/buildingArc de Triomphe, a structure/building in Paris, FranceArc de Triomphe du Carrousel, a structure/building similar to the above also in Paris, FranceArc ...

Tomb of King Tongmyong

Tomb of King Tongmyong
The Tomb of King Tongmyŏng is a mausoleum located in near Ryongsan-ri, Ryŏkp'o-guyŏk, P'yŏng'yang, North Korea. One of the tombs is the royal tomb of Tongmyŏng , the founder of ...

Munsu Water Park

Munsu Water Park
Munsu Water Park is a state run water park located in the east of the North Korean Capital, Pyongyang, which opened to the public in November 2013. The park covers ...

Pyongyang

Pyongyang
Pyongyang (/ˈpjɒŋˈjæŋ/;(Chosŏn'gŭl: 평양; hancha: 平壤), Korean pronunciation: [pʰjʌŋjaŋ], literally: "Flat Land" or "Peaceful Land", approved: P’yŏngyang; several variants) is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (commonly known as ...