10 Things Kenyans Visiting North Korea Cannot Do

North Korea’s skyline
North Korea’s skyline Friday, May 06, 2016

North Korea is a country shrouded in mystery for non-residents. It is highly guarded and only authorized personnel or tourists are allowed into the country.

Before taking a plane to North Korea here are some things you need to know.

You are not allowed to be alone

As a tourist in North Korea, you are assigned a tour guide to escort you all day. Walking alone in North Korea is prohibited for tourists. You are only allowed to be in the hotel room or the designated places for tourists.

No unauthorized photography

It is common practice for tourists to document events in a foreign country. However, in North Korea, there are limitations to what you can document. 

An Undated File Image of A Person Holding A Camera.
An Undated File Image of A Person Holding A Camera.

It is illegal to take photos or videos of the military or construction sites. While taking photos of statues, you are expected to take a full photo.

North Korean government authorities may view taking unauthorized pictures as espionage, confiscate cameras and film, and/or detain the photographer.

No touching a leader's face on a newspaper

In Kenya, once you buy a newspaper or magazine, you are allowed to handle it in any way. In North Korea, however, it is considered wrong to crease any newspaper or magazine with the face of a leader.

Don’t destroy newspapers

The streets of Nairobi are polluted with old newspapers and magazines. In North Korea, you are not allowed to destroy a newspaper.

There are people allocated to destroy newspapers in the country.

Permission to talk to the locals

Tourists and locals in North Korea are not allowed to interact without any permission

You will not get any insight into how local North Korean people live. Your tour will be highly choreographed to visit only authorized sites, shop in approved stores, and speak only to official guides.

Respect the leaders

It is normal for Kenyan citizens to throw insults at the government including the president and his family. President Uhuru Kenyatta has in the past stated that he left Twitter due to the harsh comments.

In North Korea, it is considered blasphemy to insult Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of the country, or his family.

It is a criminal act in North Korea to show disrespect to the country's current and former leaders. You can be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

The bible is prohibited in North Korea

The bible is considered a form of western influence and culture thus it is not allowed in the country. Christians leaving Kenya need to be aware and take caution before going to North Korea.

In 2014, Jeffrey Fowle, an American citizen on a tour of North Korea, was arrested and imprisoned for five months because he forgot the Bible in the bathroom of a restaurant at the Chongjin Sailor's Club

No unauthorized currency transactions

North Korean authorities may fine or arrest you for unauthorized currency transactions, or for shopping at stores not designated for foreigners.

Every move a tourist makes in North Korea is planned and monitored.

Hand over your passport

Upon arrival in North Korea, your tour guide will take your passport and keep it for security reasons.

Do not break any of the rules of the tour, doing so will place your guide at risk. He/she will be subjected to imprisonment and even torture, for assisting your disobedience.

Custom rules

Tourists are expected to customs check all your music, films, and written materials, and only then you will be allowed into the country.

An image of a man holding a stash of cash
Kenya's new currency notes being displayed.
Simon Kiragu
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