Thursday, April 7, 2016

Why Did I Visit North Korea?

by Regin Reyno
The last REAL "communist" closed country in the world today, it has been my fascination to visit North Korea or DPRK (Democratic Peoples’s Republic of Korea) as what the locals prefer to call their country.
Kim Il Sung Square. Pyongyang, North Korea
When I was young, I’ve seen movies about communist countries, heard a lot of stories about them- stories about how life is difficult in these countries; lack of freedom, forced labor, food shortages, religious persecution, strict government officials, military and police-stories about the Soviet Union, Red China, East Germany, Vietnam, and the like. I always wondered how life was in these countries. The collectivization for example, fascinated me. I can’t imagine working hard out in the field then giving your produce to the government. And I can’t forget the movie that I’ve seen when I was 6 years old: about a family who tried to escape a communists country (I think that was East Germany if I’m not mistaken) via hot air balloon-people risking their lives crossing the Berlin Wall, the DMZs, unforgiving rivers, vast seas just to escape these "repressive" countries.
What are in these countries? How things are being run in these countries? These are just some of my questions.
So this desire to experience a communist country started when I was young-plus, human nature’s longing to explore the unknown.  
Then in 2009, I was able to have my first taste of a communist country. I visited Lao People’s Democratic Republic, or Laos. I was expecting a different experience, but then except for the lack of American crap like McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC, etc. everything else is normal. Laos is not a “real” communist country anymore. Capitalism abound, there’s religious freedom, etc.
Then I visited Vietnam in 2011, same thing. 
After those disappointing communist experiences, I aimed for Burma. Though not a communist country, it was a closed country with a Military government. There was no Coca Cola in the country for 50 years, for example, and citizens have limited rights-like international travel, business, and communications. But for some reason, I was able to visit the country in 2012, when it just opened. Although, I had a wonderful experience, I still I want to experience a country closed from the outside world.
As of the moment, there are only 5 communist countries in the word today: China, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, and North Korea.
China, Vietnam, Laos have been opened for a long time and is combining capitalism to their socialist government. And Cuba having been opened very recently- I only have one chance left. One country, one closed country to experience a real socialist, communist form of government. And that is North Korea!
Although the ideology of Juche is what is now considered North Korea’s political framework, it still has many aspects and qualities of a real communist, marxist, socialist country. It was founded by Kim Il Sung-who had a strong economic and political ties with the former Soviet Union and China. It is a "Cold War relic", a "Stalinist throwback."
I have to visit North Korea before it opens.
In December 2015, I boarded Air Koryo-North Korea’s flag carrier-and flew from Beijing to Pyongyang. Just by seeing the flight attendants made me excited. It’s not every day that you can meet a North Korean. North Koreans aren’t allowed to travel out of the country. 

Air Koryo. My first time to see a North Korean
My visit to this last real socialist country on earth didn’t disappoint. I was able to have a glimpse and experience the country for 5 days. It was awesome; a country like no other, so they say. I was able to witness and experience a totally different country. Now, these are what I am looking for; destinations that will blow your mind, new experiences, exploration of the unknown, and a culture and customs totally different from your own. These are the reasons why we travel, aren’t they? I am just glad, thankful, and fulfilled to be able to visit a real socialist/communist country. 
Pyongyang Sunan International Airport 

What are you waiting for? Visit the DPRK (North Korea) before it opens!  

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