Can you move to North Korea? The short answer is that yes you can, but it is not easy at all, nor is it particularly common.
To read about if you can visit North Korea click here.
How can you move to North Korea?
There are actually a number of foreigners that live in North Korea, but they tend to fit into a few small categories. Firstly the largest number of foreigners tend to be staff working at the embassies. The largest missions are China and Russia.
To read about North Korean embassies click here.
The second batch of people who move to North Korea are those involved in education and the NGO world. There are famous school such as PUST that hire foreigners as well as numerous NGO’s, as well as the United Nations (UN) working in the country.
To read about PUST click here .
And lastly there are those involved in business within North Korea. Most of these people tend to be Chinese, but there are others, even Americans. I have personally met a Korean-American pig farmer in Rason and there were an estimated 200 Americans in North Korea just before the US government ban.
To read about Rason click here.
Are there mixed race North Koreans?
North Korea is one of the most racially homogenous nations on earth and mixing of blood is generally not the done thing. There are though some foreigners that have moved here and had children. These include Japanese, Chinese, Lebanese, Americans and even Africans.
These people while representing a minority of people in North Korea still very much exist, with the most famous “foreign Koreans” being the sons of the American defector James Dresnok, who I once met.
To read about James Dresnok click here.
Japanese – Koreans in North Korea
There are a number of Japanese people of Korean descent who technically at least hold North Korean citizenship. Many of these and their Japanese spouses were encouraged to move to the DPRK, which they did.
This has caused quite a lot of controversy with many allegedly not being allowed to return back to Japan and relatives claiming a lack of contact. These people can theoretically at least move to North Korea and technically hold a kind of dual citizenship.
To read about Chongryon click here.
Can you defect to North Korea?
During the Cold War a number of American servicemen crossed the DMZ and effectively defected to the DPRK. These included the aforementioned James Dresnok. At the time this was considered a huge propaganda coup for the DPRK and they became celebrities within the country.
Things though have changed a lot and merely being a GI does not give you intrinsic value, as Travis King recently found out.
More commonly has the movement of people from South Korea to North Korea. South Koreans who want to move to North Korea can only do so by essentially defecting and giving up citizenship of the Republic of Korea. There have been a number of high profile south to north defections, such as former government minister Choe Deok-sin
How can I immigrate to North Korea?
There is often a debate about why some people are “expats”, while others are “immigrants” or “refugees” and whether there are racial connotations. Here we will explain the difference.
You can move to North Korea if you have a skill, or are sponsored by a company to a job there, as we have previously explained. In short if you qualify, you can be an expat in North Korea. What you cannot do though as a westerner is a) immigrate to North Korea (to be an immigrant), or to seek refuge in North Korea (to be a refugee).
Now you might ask yourself just how many people would want to move to North Korea? Well while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea we probably get at least one email a week from people that do want to move to the DPRK. Their reasons and aims vary greatly, but most do seem to think that the country would and should welcome them with open arms.
Most recently we got an application from an American doctor who wanted to move to the DPRK and help revolutionise their heal care system. We politely explained that we would not be able to help him, as we do with all inquiries.
Quite often people will counteract us by saying “but the constitution of the DPRK says they do give political asylum”, This is very true, but alas they interpret that in their own way, which does not include being a westerner “disillusioned with capitalism”. The same can also be said for marrying a North Korean and moving there, technically true, but in reality not so much so.
And if you do research “can I move to North Korea” online and you happen upon the short Quora thread, please ignore it, as the information is for the most past false.
So, to summarize, whatever your political leanings you cannot simply just move to North Korea, nor defect, nor immigrate. Instead you will have to make do as the rest if us do, as a tourist.
We are though happy to take you on one of our North Korean Tours.