Shane Horan has worked as the international tour manager for Young Pioneers Tours, an organization that regularly takes people into the country for guided tours. Here’s what Shane had to say about it, alongside some of the photographs he’s taken:
I’ve always been fascinated with North Korea and other so called ‘rogue nations’, especially since studying international relations at university.
I had my eye on the job for a few years after stumbling across the company in my search for ways of travelling to the DPRK. I asked, they accepted and I was on a plane to Beijing to begin a new life.
It’s very easy to actually get a visa and travel into the country, Americans aside.
The country itself is an incredibly fascinating and beautiful place. I hope that one day it opens and becomes less restrictive for tourists to visit.
But the country is opening slowly but surely to tourists. There are more places than ever that you can visit all over the country and not just in Pyongyang.
Of course, we have to stick to places we’re supposed to, but we can choose what to put on our itineraries.
You are watched when out and about on the street, but not in your hotel rooms and not so much when visiting the places you’re allowed.
But I’ve never been anywhere that’s restricted. Our tours are geared towards balancing the history and monuments with genuine interactions with locals.
This tour guide took quite a risk by leaking these photos, but without them we’d never know what the ominously mysterious country of North Korea truly looks like in terms of it’s people and infrastructure.
It’s actually amazing how beautiful the country is, and yet, there’s seemingly still an air of despair floating around, as seen on the faces of many North Korean peoples. Some, however, have genuine expressions of happiness, which is astounding considering the state of the DPRK. Some have simply learned how to persevere.
The photos of the buildings look like some sort of pop-up, for-show city, where there’s more decoration than human life. You can even see the lack of lights present in the city buildings during the dimly-lit morning sunrise. The desolate skyline of North Korea speaks volumes of this rouge nation.
If you want to see more rare photos of North Korea, check out pictures of their only airline. And if you want even more of the rogue nation, watch this harrowing video of the chilling dystopian music that plays every morning throughout Pyongyang– Kim Jong-un’s wakeup call to his people.
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