The North Korean people

Live in a gray city for long enough, and it shows on your face.

They are unaccustomed to your presence. Their heads hang low, and smiles are rare. They walk around you without making eye contact, but every now and then you may catch someone sneaking a look. You can feel them asking silent questions, but not enough confidence exist for those questions to materialize. You are left wondering at what they could be thinking, but you know that even an attempt to converse with them would be met with embarrassed silence. Only the children retain any sort of innocent curiosity to say a few words or wave hello. Otherwise, you are left with only your tour guides to get any sense of what the people are like.

There is a rule in North Korea that you are not allowed to talk to the locals. This rule was never enforced on our trip, but that’s because the people in charge know that the locals won’t bother talking to foreigners in the first place.



Compare Bengali curiosity:


…with that of North Korea’s (notice the color differences too):


North Korea.



Children aiming slingshots at us.







- At time of posting in NYC, it was 73.4 °F -

Humidity: 83% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: Mostly cloudy

Paradise in the Lost and Found bin
"The scariest place on Earth": The North Korean DMZ.


  1. The photograph of the boys aiming slingshots at the tour group should be a sign of Korean’s feelings towards outsiders, especially Americans. No need for the paintings on the mysterious 5th floor to tell us that.

  2. There is one “officially” but it is not enforced. But notice that the only people that were willing to approach you were children (as I mentioned in the blog). Taking pictures of locals is fine, but sometimes requires permission, as I’m sure you noticed.

  3. I’m not sure there is a rule against talking to locals. Just that most locals don’t speak any language other than Korean. When we were walking from Kim Il Sung square to dinner (we convinced our tour group to walk the 30 minutes instead of riding the bus 3 minutes) a group of school girls bounded up to us and asked us (in English!) where we were from and if we like the DPRK and we asked them about studies before they turned off onto a different road. They were pretty curious.

    Also, we took lots of pictures with local tours at the Kim Il Sung Memorial. Well not lots, but some.

  4. What camera equipment were you using?

    Nice shot of the two boys standing behind the tree.

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