With North Korea and the US trading threats in the spreadsheets these past few weeks, we would like to chip in and clarify how this recent round of sabre-rattling is impacting on tours on the ground in North Korea.
First and foremost we want to emphasise that much of the hysteria is simply due to media hype and sensationalism. We have been monitoring the situation closely, including regularly checking in with our partners and associates on the ground, and can assure you that things are still completely relaxed and business-as-usual.
Many of the articles that have come out recently are completely unsubstantiated. You might have read the one claiming that Pyongyang evacuated a large portion of its citizens in preparation for a potential war. There is absolutely no evidence for this. We have been regularly communicating with Pyongyang-based expatriates and journalists (a large group was visiting just recently for the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung) and they confirmed that everything is totally normal right now.
The stream of opinion pieces coming out in recent weeks musing on the potential for full-scale war between the United States and North Korea are mostly devoid of historical or cultural understanding of the Korean situation. Despite the bellicose rhetoric, we want to assure you that the possibility of a war occurring are as low as they’ve ever been. People who’ve been watching closely will recognise this as a cycle which occurs on an almost yearly basis. Within several weeks we are certain that the media will have forgotten about it and moved on to the next big thing. Long time analysts, our academic partner Andrei Lankov among them, all agree that this does not mean there is going to be a war on the Korean peninsula.
So in short, we all need to be aware that there’s a strong tendency for sensationalism and exaggeration in the media when it comes to North Korea. We need to view all such recent news with a sceptical, critical mindset.
Your safety as a tourist in North Korea is our utmost concern and we are keeping close tabs on the situation. But all reports coming out of Pyongyang agree that everything is totally normal and calm. Note that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advisory on North Korea has stayed the same. The Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advisory has also remained the same, and Smart Traveller has not sent out a single email about the situation to either its DPRK (North Korea) or ROK (South Korea) mailing lists.
We also note that those perhaps most qualified to really judge the severity of the situation—the South Koreans, are barely paying these events any attention. The country is mostly focusing on things like commemorating the third anniversary of the tragic Sewol Ferry Disaster, and preparing for the upcoming presidential election next month.
So if you are planning a trip to North Korea soon and are getting worried, then relax. Everything will be fine and travelling with us you will be in good hands.
And please feel free to contact us directly if you have any further questions about the current political situation and how it relates to tours to North Korea.