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5 things you need to know before traveling to North Korea

News Desk
News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, May 6, 2018 | 09:05 am
5 things you need to know before traveling to North Korea

Tourists pose for a group photo before statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang in July 2017. (AFP/Ed Jones)

While the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or North Korea, is open to tourism, like any other country, travelers must be aware of rules and regulations imposed in its territory. 

Kompas.com has compiled a list of things to be aware of before visiting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula.

1. Only cash transactions accepted

When visiting North Korea, be mindful of the currency you carry. The country only accepts cash transactions in euros, US dollars, Chinese yuan or the North Korean Won, also known as the Korean People's Won (KPW). 

There are no ATMs, and credit cards are not valid for transactions in North Korea. Coins of US dollars and Yuan are also not acceptable. North Korea does not limit the amount of cash travelers bring into the country.

2. Can you bring a mobile phone?

Since 2013, North Korea allows tourists to bring mobile phones. However, a local SIM card must be used to make calls, since no foreign SIM card works in the country.

Moreover, the local SIM cards made available for visitors also differ from those used by North Korean residents. Visitors cannot make calls to local numbers.

3. Internet and e-mail

There is only one hotel in North Korea that provides Wi-Fi services, namely the Masik Ski Resort. No other places offer Wi-Fi in the country. The internet can be accessed through data plans from SIM card providers. 

E-mails can be sent from hotels – using the hotel’s e-mail address – a service that costs visitors 2 euros, equivalent to Rp 30,000, for each e-mail sent. 

Read also: What not to do in North Korea

4. Taking photos and videos 

Visitors are allowed to take photos and videos throughout their travels. However, do not be surprised when the tour guide forbids you to take photos in certain areas, such as a military post. 

At the end of the journey, before returning home from North Korea, photographs on the camera of every tourist will be checked, and some photos may be deleted if they are not in accordance with the applicable provisions. 

5. Be mindful of etiquette and behavior

Not only local residents must show respect at statues of North Korean leaders. The rule also applies to foreign visitors, who are also expected to bow down upon approaching a statue. 

If you are not comfortable with that, request that your tour guide avoid locations where you might find statues of North Korean leaders, such as those of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang.

Visitors must also be careful with images of the country's leaders. For example, it is not advised to throw or deface newspapers that feature photographs of the leaders.

Lastly, when pointing at a statue of a North Korean leader, you must not point with one finger but stretch out all five fingers of your hand. (liz/asw)

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