“I want to see the people in North Korea”. That was my reason why I wanted to go to North Korea instead of South Korea. I, honestly, didn’t know much about the country. Communist and isolated were the words I heard a lot about, then I was curious how its people dealed with them.
Every time I travel, interacting with the locals is the most anticipated thing I am waiting for. I love seeing how the people living in different areas live. Therefore I often interact with them on purpose, for example by people watching on public area, taking public transportation, strolling on local market, eating street food, or saying hi and smiling to a group of children.
They colorizes my trip, even my life. They make me love traveling more and more.
Unfortunately, since the trip to North Korea or Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (official name) should be in a tour group, I didn’t have much time to interact with the people. I just met them on public park, train station, and some public areas.
From my visit, I could see people in North Korea were nice and happy. The immigration staff at the airport grinned at me while I silently said “Yeeaaah” having he returned my passport.
Unlike its neighbor, fashion in the north tended to be classic and colorless. I even didn’t see people wearing jeans, let alone tank top or shorts.
We went to depatment store at day, but the visitors were tourists only. We even went to bowling alley, again there were only us. In store at hotel I saw some international brands though.
The females seemed more fashionable with their hairdo, dress, lace umbrella, and shoes, including cute school shoes for the girls. But, the guys, mostly similar: white shirt and dark pants.
Most of adults, included our guides, had pin of former leader or flag on their left chest. I didn’t know what would happen if they forgot to put it on.
The salary in North Korea relatively low, including our local guides. Therefore we were recommended to tip them besides souvenirs.
We saw people were busy in the morning, like they were going for work or school. But on the other side, most of people were farmers. You can see them along the way from airport to the city, or while you go to suburb areas.
For going around, besides using bicycle, people were taking bus and metro for commuting. My group tried the train and local bus. Though, unlike the train, we didn’t join it with the locals while taking the bus.
I didn’t see big or fat person, even the soldiers we saw were tiny and short. Talking to girls in my group, we agreed that we haven’t seen any good looking guys as well as long hair man.
I don’t know how they date, but I noticed some couples sitting closely and walking holding hand. Apparently, there was love in North Korea.
To be confirmed, North Korean is encouraged to have as many as children. Once they get married, government will provide them a house for free.
One day, we caught some groups of had picnic under the trees by Taedong River. They were enjoying their lunch. They talked and laughed each other and greeted us walking through of them. My group also had chance to dance with some locals. They nicely asked us to join with them, and laughed looking our silly moves.
People, especially children sometimes shyly waved and smiled to tourists in the bus. They looked get used to with foreigners.
Basically, there was no boundaries to the locals, except the army. We can take picture of the people, but not the people in uniform. One of my travel mates was shouted by a guy when he’s taking picture in the restaurant car on our way to Beijing by sleeper train. We were waiting for our order, actually. We barely knew a man wearing undershirt was an officer until he angrily talked in Korean pointed out my friend. The waitress told us what he said. Then we saw an army shirt hanging on the wall. We got it.
I might not deeply know about the people life to say nothing happen to them, but what I saw was they were just like people outside their country. They were dancing, singing, and smiling.
What we see it’s weird might be it’s very normal for North Koreans. I am looking forward to seeing them again!