You, Too, Can Visit North Korea

Prepare to be followed by officials everywhere you turn
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 6, 2009 8:33 AM CDT
Laura Ling gets emotional as she reads a statement in Burbank, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009. Former President Bill Clinton listens.    (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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(Newser) – You don’t have to be an ex-president to visit North Korea: In fact, your average “private citizen” can make the trip, if he or she doesn't mind a few inconveniences, writes Christopher Beam for Slate. To head to Pyongyang, apply for a visa via North Korea’s UN rep or take the “far easier” approach—use the single approved American travel company. To take that route, you submit an application; if you list "journalist" as your profession, forget about gaining entry.

If you’re allowed in, you can only come for 5 days during the annual Olympics-like festival (Non-American Westerners can make a 10-day visit any time). An official tour guide will accompany you during the entire trip. Your “highly regimented” tour will take you to a few museums and other attractions, but you’ll have to leave your cell phone behind and avoid talking to locals—that's strictly forbidden, as is wandering off.