Young Pioneer Tours

Top 5 Silliest questions I got as a tour guide in North Korea

Look, we all travel to learn, no doubt. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that “there’s no such thing as a stupid question,” but from time to time North Korea inspires odd questions that do a little more than cock an eyebrow. So in the interest of a good ol’ fashioned vent as I finish up as a full-time guide with YPT, here are my top 5 most eyebrow-raising questions over the last three years.

5. “How many trees are there in North Korea?”

…You mean how many varieties of trees? “No, how many trees are there in total?” Um. In the whole country? “Yeah.”

I got nothing for ya.

4. Why aren’t the people talking to each other on the tram?

…The same reason I don’t want to talk to strangers when I’m exhausted and transiting to and from work every morning!  

3. Why are they wearing jackets inside?

Because it’s the middle of winter, snowing outsides and we’re at the Grand Peoples’ Study House, which is a gigantic, marble library with literally no heating.

2. What is Kim Jong Un doing right now? Like, right now?

Excuse me?

1. Are these people actors and just here just for us?

Everyone’s favourite question! Believe it or not, Pyongyang’s a city of 3 million people, all going about their business. People enjoy their time off on holidays, take the metro, drink beer in bars and eat meals with their friends and families just like the rest of us. While there may have been some fishy looking setups in some documentaries in the past, these situations could be viewed as a “propaganda opportunity” with the potential for thousands to see. A dozen tourists passing through, however, is a different story, and what you see is what you get.

My sincere thanks for the vent, keep asking questions and see you in Pyongyang!

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