Business Traveller - - UPFRONT -

SMIL­ING, HOLD­ING HANDS, PLANT­ING A TREE, shar­ing din­ner, plus lots of chit-chat in the demil­i­tarised zone… when the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, met his South Korean coun­ter­part, Moon Jae-in, on the coun­tries’ bor­der back in April, it sug­gested there might be a new era of har­mony be­tween the two tra­di­tion­ally hos­tile na­tions. Could this thaw­ing of re­la­tions open up the most cul­tur­ally iso­lated na­tion on the planet to the rest of the world?

It’s possible that the North Kore­ans might wel­come more tourism. Cur­rently, fewer than 6,000 Western­ers visit each year, all through the state-owned tourism bu­reaus. Yet the heady mix of pro­pa­ganda, to­tal­i­tar­ian chic, per­son­al­ity cult, be­he­moth stat­ues and but­toned-up tourist guides is bound to make for a mem­o­rable, if sur­real hol­i­day in the cap­i­tal Py­ongyang. As one of­fi­cial tour op­er­a­tor states: “This isn’t a reg­u­lar tourist trip, but a cul­tural one where vis­i­tors are ex­pected to in­ter­act and be­have ac­cord­ingly.”

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