Young Pioneer Tours

Can LGBT people travel to North Korea?

Contrary to popular belief, homosexuality is not against the law in North Korea, and people from the LGBT community are more than welcome to travel here – in fact, openly gay tour guides have frequently led tours here without issue.

That being said, North Korea is a sexually conservative country, and this applies to sexuality anywhere on the spectrum. Overt shows of affection by anyone of any sexual orientation tend to be frowned upon, and this is something that should be respected by visitors to the country at all times.

As most tourists to the country have twin-share rooms, both same- and mixed-sex couples sharing a room raises no eyebrows. However, twin-shares are very much the norm and double beds do not come as standard, though can be requested for an extra charge.

Whilst homosexuality is not illegal in the country, there is no ‘gay scene’ to speak of, and you certainly will not meet openly gay Koreans in the DPRK. It is also important to be respectful on their extreme conservativeness on this matter: do not ask Korean people about their sexual orientation; in fact, any question that is sexual in nature may well cause offence, and should be avoided.

The most that gay travellers can expect, in terms of scrutiny, is for your guides to take a frank interest in your orientation. Anything outside heteronormativity is simply not something to which they’re accustomed, and they’re consequently very curious.

Young Pioneer Tours has employed and continues to employ LGBT people, and we welcome people from all walks of life on our tours. But it is important to remember that the cultural norms of some of the countries we visit, and it is important to ensure that we respect the beliefs and norms of those countries even if we do not necessarily agree with them.

For more specific questions about LGBT travel to North Korea – or any of our destinations – feel free to get in touch!