The Democratic People's Republic of Korea: Looking Through the Other Side of the Lens - Voice Of The Youth Network


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19 May 2018

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea: Looking Through the Other Side of the Lens

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), more commonly known as North Korea, may as well be one of the most mysterious countries in the world today.

Mr. Takashi Castillo (Shiki), CEO of Miraxma - Miraiima, is on a mission to spread world peace.

Aside from his Tokyo Tsukiji Cebu project, he also aims to help improve the relations of DPRK to the rest of the world. He believes that the first step to establishing good relations with such a country, is to understand their culture and see things from their perspective.

Common Misconceptions

Because of how long DPRK has been distant to the rest of the world, a lot of common misconceptions are conceived about the country.

Some of the most common misconceptions are:
  • that the country is on the verge of famine
  • the country is COMPLETELY closed off from the rest of the world
  • it has an underdeveloped economy
  • Kim Jong-Un is an irrational dictator who has no concern for his people
But contrary to popular belief, DPRK, or simply Korea, is a breath of fresh air in this overpopulated and highly industrialized world we live in.

To correct these misconceptions and help us understand the country more, Mr. Castillo has provided information about the country during his visit on September of 2017.

Local Rules

Before going to Korea, one must know the basic laws that even the locals have to follow:
  • Referring to the country
    • A lot of tourists mistakenly call the country as "North Korea" but the official name of the country is "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea" or simply, "Korea".
  • Names of the Supreme Leader
    • In Korea, if the current or former Supreme Leaders are being mentioned, it is necessary to refer to them along with their respective title:
      • First Supreme Leader/President Kim Il-Sung
      • Second Senior Leader/General Secretary Kim Jong-Il
      • Third Senior Leader/Chairman Kim Jong-Un
Going to Korea
Contrary to what is commonly believed, Korea isn't closed off to the rest of the world. In fact, tourists can go very easily, unless they are part of the media.

  • Acquiring a DPRK Visa
    • In order to get a DPRK Visa, all you need is to be booked on a pre-planned tour (to whom you'll send your filled out visa application form, a photocopy of your passport, and a passport-style photo) with two Korean tour guides as accompaniment
    • The Visa will be issued in Beijing
  • Purchasing tickets
    • In order to get to DPRK, you can purchase tickets from either Air Koryo, the national airline of Korea, or Air China
    • As of now, there are only 4 cities with non-stop flights to Pyongyang, DPKR:
      • From Beijing, China (Estimated Travel Time is 1 hour and 30 minutes)
      • From Shanghai, China (Estimated Travel Time is 1 hour and 50 minutes)
      • From Shenyang, China (Estimated Travel Time is 45 minutes)
      • From Vladivostok, Russia (Estimated Travel Time is 1 hour and 10 minutes)
  • Traveling to Korea
    • According to Mr. Castillo, when he was at Beijing and taking pictures of the check-in line for Korea, a stern-looking Korean man approached him and asked the purpose of the picture. Mr. Castillo said he was going to Korea, then the man's face changed into a smile before wishing him well.
    • This action shows that Koreans are very strict with the handling of information about their country.
  • Arriving at Pyongyang
    • When Mr. Castillo arrived at Pyongyang, instead of going through just electronics, they also went through every page of every book diligently to make sure there was nothing hidden inside.
    • All Wi-Fi transmitters will also be taken into the custody of immigration personnel and will be returned on the departure of the passengers.
Inside Korea

The next bits of information will be based on the discoveries and observations of Mr. Castillo during his experience at DPKR.
  • The Airport
    • According to Mr. Castillo, the locals made sure to keep the outside of the airport full of color and tidy-looking.                                                                                                                                                                                     
  • International Programs
    • While programs like NHK World can be watched freely at international hotels, Koreans can only watch them at home during weekends
  • Communication
    • In Korea, foreign tourists aren't allowed to use their own telecommunication devices to make contact outside of the country. If you want to communicate with someone, there are computers where you can compose and send e-mails at the first floor of hotels.                                                                                                          
  • Morning Cheer
    • One remarkable thing is that in mornings, women from the army would assemble to give out a morning call of cheer in order to motivate businessmen on the way to their respective workplace.                        
  • Historical Atmosphere
    • Although the country was, indeed, modernized, there were still a lot that Mr. Castillo saw which reminded him of the past and made him feel like he was in a different time period. 
      • Cars - Although there are a lot of new car models roaming around during his stay, there were still a lot of old cars being driven by locals.                                                                                       
      • Locals - The outfit of the locals were very reminiscent of the past for Mr. Castillo. They wore calm colors like khaki and gray, and their hair were kept naturally black, reminiscent of the old monochrome pictures Takashi had seen in his childhood.                                                                      
  • Cost of Living
    • In Korea, housing and schooling are free, rice is freely distributed in schools and households, and the people's salary is paid by commission.                                                                                                                         
  • Smartphones
    • In Korea, smartphones are very popular but only a few people know how to use them. Korea also has their own manufactured brand, called "Pyongyang".                                                                                                  
  • Natural Scenery
    • Although Pyongyang is very modernized, the rest of the country is still filled with the natural beauty of mountains and fields.
  • Warmth of the People
    • What surprised Mr. Castillo the most wasn't the beauty of the country, but the reactions of the people. They weren't hostile, but filled with warmth instead. They were very considerate and accommodating and held no hostility to the tourists who abide by their rules.                                                       

In order to truly attain world peace, we must cast aside our differences and make an effort to understand each other from different perspectives. The cruel, uncivilized North Korea that is being portrayed in media wasn't the same as the welcoming DPRK that Mr. Castillo experienced.

"I remember that only the military stocks were struggling around this time. When I told the locals about the danger and the worry from the missile passing over Japan, they said: 'I’m sorry to have surprised you, but we are just showing off that our country has the technology to be able to fly missiles with such accuracy.' I was able to understand that our reasoning as Japanese was not getting through. I also realized that I wouldn't have been able to understand their overall national character without physically visiting this place." Mr. Castillo ended.

To find out more about Mr. Castillo's experience in the country, visit Miraxma.

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