One of the most asked questions for tourists travelling into North Korea is if they will be allowed to document their visit. After all, pictures of you with North Korean soldiers and at the world’s most heavily guarded border, the DMZ, make for a great Instagram post.
A quick Google search will fill you with doubt as the many articles come up from people apparently having ‘snuck’ ‘illegal’ photos out of the country. In reality, the vast majority of this is click-bait nonsense.
Most people are pleasantly surprised to hear that you can, in fact, take many pictures in the country. And yes, you can upload these pictures on your social media and blogs afterwards too!
There are just a few rules to follow on taking pictures:
No photos of military
Much like in many other countries, photos of the military and military checkpoints are strictly prohibited. Only on a trip to the DMZ can you grab a picture with one of the soldiers – if you ask nicely enough.
No photos of construction sites
This is largely due to the fact that military often work on the construction sites.
Photo of the leader’s statues/portraits
Mansudae Grand Monument is a sacred place for Koreans to pay their respects to the leaders. When taking pictures, you should keep your hands by your side and remain respectful. No funny faces or any handstands! You should also ensure both statues are included in the photo, and not cropped in the framing of the shot.
Listen to your guides
There may be some exceptions to the rule of no pictures for only military and construction sites, and if there is anywhere you are not allowed to take pictures of or anything you shouldn’t take pictures of, your North Korean guides will kindly let you know. This may include some gift shops, inside some museums, or taking photos of some portraits of the leaders. If you take a picture of something they are not happy about, they will politely ask you to delete it.
Customs/Exiting the country
There is a chance that customs officers will look through your phone and camera for pictures. If you have taken a picture of something that is not allowed (for example you may have a picture with the military in the background by accident), they will ask you to delete it.