Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang

North Korea is one of the most reclusive and bizarre countries in the world. With a population of 23,000,000 North Korea has about half the population of its Southern counter part. There is no independent tourism here and you would have to enter the Country on a group tour.

North Korea is still considered to have much natural beauty particularly the Kuryong Falls, which is the centerpiece of the Mount Kumgang resort in southeastern North Korea near Mount Kumgang. The trail winds along a river with glistening pools of water and picturesque scenery all around. Mount Kumgang is a popular tourist destination for many South Koreans, for whom the mountain holds historical and cultural significance, and it is one of the few places in North Korea that Americans can travel relatively easily.

Many tourists will enter North Korea via China. Ever since Mount Kumgang was opened to outsiders, nearly 2 million foreigners have made the trip with majority of the visitors being of Korean descent holding a non-Korean passport. Also visitors from 48 different countries have made this trip. But despite the majesty of the natural beauty that surrounds this country, it feels as if you can never escape the country’s dictatorship. There are pictures of the North Korea’s dictators hanging everywhere – the late Kim Il Sung and his son, the current dictator, Kim Jung Il. You will also get the sense that you are constantly being watched wherever you go and tourist are not allowed to speak to anyone and everyone refuses to be photographed.

Avoid going during the winter as Korea is known to have frigid cold months. However, if you like the snow and the cold, this may be the ideal place to visit especially with the natural, untouched beauty that North Korea has well preserved. From late June to late August, the monsoon season arrives and the country receives nearly 60% of its annual rainfall, and is followed by unpleasantly hot and humid weather.

Technically the two countries are still at war as there was no official ending or treaty and its understood that the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas is considered to be have the most active landmines in the world. Also, under no circumstances whatsoever should you mention anything negative about North Korea or its dictators. You can be perceived as an insult to North Korea and you and your tour guide can be in serious trouble. Assume that you are constantly being monitored and under surveillance at all times.