Most people can think of reasons not to visit North Korea. Most people consider the place dangerous. They have imprisoned foreigners for life for things that we wouldn’t consider illegal here, and you have no right to due process. For starters.
What do you get from visiting?
If you travel to explore new places, North Korea is one of the few frontiers left that tourists haven’t overrun. Tourists are even overrunning Mount Everest. It has a lot to offer that other frontier places don’t. By the way, if you want relaxing white sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, spas, and that sort of vacation, I don’t think you’ll like North Korea.
Everest is a physical challenge. You’ll get something out of climbing it, but if your goal is novelty, people have conquered that mountain many times over. Still, I respect natural frontiers for their beauty and what you learn about nature from them. If only going there and climbing it didn’t degrade it forever.
Antarctica and other remote places are frontiers, though I’m not sure what you get out of going to them if you aren’t a scientist. Same with the center of a desert. They are challenging frontiers to reach, but what do you get from reaching them? I can’t imagine myself inspired to write about such a trip. Then again, I’m not sure why people who climb Everest because it’s there don’t pick the South Pole. Still, I think getting there contributes to degrading it.
Safaris, like other natural locations, offer the beauty of remote places and the joy of learning more about nature. Again, if only my presence there didn’t contribute to ruining the place. Maybe I missed something about so-called eco-tourism that could make me feel visiting didn’t hurt the place. So far I can only imagine my impact hurting the place.
Meditation is always available for a journey inward to explore and learn from personal frontiers. I recommend it. You remain still bound by your experiences and imagination.
Machu Pichu, the pyramids, and other ancient structures teach you about yourself and your cultures by seeing past cultures. Plus they are beautiful. Again, if only my presence didn’t degrade them. Mostly, they are hardly frontiers, visited by so many. You can see their images and learn about ancient cultures on the internet.
North Korea does everything it can to isolate itself. In its own way, it makes it more interesting to the first time visitor. You see people living in a world different than yours. The more different a society, the more you can see yours from a new perspective
If you only see your society from within it or nearly so, you can’t tell what about it is universal and what is unique. An outside perspective helps. North Korea gives it.
And the universals, in my opinion, are our most beautiful parts — parents with their children, farmers in their fields, children playing games, people laughing, cooks cooking, and so on. You see your world in a different light. You appreciate things worth appreciating more. Or at least I did.
Besides what you see and how you can grow, you observe and experience the aesthetic pleasure and reward of the beauty of the land. The dignity of the people.
Of all the frontiers I can imagine, and I may be imposing my values on others here, but I don’t mind if my presence degrades the isolation of North Korea and leads to more people on the street communicating, sharing, trading, and so on.
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