Under Western Eyes

By Dong Fangyu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-07-25 17:26:37

Under Western Eyes

Arranged by tour agencies, trips to Pyongyang usually include visits to places of interest, including subway stations, Kim Il-sung Square and the China-Korea Friendship Tower. [Photo by Ke Haitian/For China Daily]

Despite the Western media's unflattering portrayal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a growing number of Westerners are applying to visit the country to see things with their own eyes.

Under Western Eyes

Travel passes to DPRK now available within 24 hours

Under Western Eyes

DPRK paintings displayed in Hangzhou

Even the thought of government-guided tours hasn't dampened their enthusiasm; instead the number of foreigners making the trip to the DPRK is rising as tourists look to explore the country free from the fog of propaganda.

"You hear so much about it through the media, but I wanted to see it with my own eyes," said Adrian Smith, 33, who teaches English at Heibei University in Baoding. UK national Smith first visited the DPRK in February 2010, and is now planning a second visit.

Former English teacher Sabrina Wang runs her own travel agency, called Explore North Korea. Based in Dandong, Liaoning province, China's main border city with the DPRK, the company has been arranging trips since 2009.

"In 2008, some foreign friends consulted me about how to get to the DPRK. In their eyes, the application procedure was a big headache. But actually, it was pretty easy to go to the DPRK as a tourist. That gave me the idea of setting up my own travel agency to help foreigners who have a great interest in going to the DPRK, but are unable to find good English-speaking services."

"So far, we have not had a single client whose visa application has been declined," said Wang, whose company arranged for more than 30 non-Chinese tourists to visit the DPRK in June.

"We have seen a rise in the number of European tourists; most of them are really into history and culture. Unlike Chinese tourists, Westerners usually arrive for the trip having spent a long time researching the DPRK. Some have traveled to the country with different tourist companies two or three times," she said.


A journey into the past

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