Saturday, September 18, 2021

Traditions & Customs in North Korea

AsiaNorth KoreaTraditions & Customs in North Korea

It’s worth noting that the DPRK leadership, particularly its leaders Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un, are held in high regard in North Korean culture, at least officially. While visitors should not anticipate slavish devotion, particularly because the DPRK’s Juche ideology is intended only at the Korean people and does not apply to outsiders, criticizing them in any manner is extremely disrespectful and unlawful, and will land you and (much more so) your guides in hot water. It is not worth endangering their lives by unintentionally offending their leaders.

When speaking with your guides, it is preferable to refer to North Korea as the DPRK. The official name of the nation is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which reflects their view that the south (not capitalized) is occupied territory. In the same manner, you’ll see this mentioned in their material (i.e. as “south Korea”).

The DPRK maintains stringent photography restrictions, despite the fact that there are numerous excellent photo possibilities across the nation, especially in Pyongyang. This, again, is mainly dependent on the guides given to you and how comfortable they are in trusting that you would not disgrace them. While it used to be true that you couldn’t “look at” or “take photographs of” individuals in the DPRK, you may be shocked to learn that you can now photograph a wedding couple or a grandma walking her grandchild and waving back at you. Also, do not photograph anything that might be of strategic significance (for example, locations with soldiers or police officers in front of them) or anything that you have been explicitly instructed not to photograph. If you’re ever in doubt, as previously said, always consult your advisors.

Bringing presents for the males, both guides and the driver, such as cigarettes or Scotch, and chocolate or skin care for the female guides, is a lovely gesture. Please be courteous of your guides, particularly because North Korean guides have been known to accompany visitors whom they trust to locations and activities in North Korea that they would not otherwise visit. This may also apply to how comfortable they are with you taking pictures of them. Remember that they may be just as interested in you as you are in them.

When visiting national landmarks in the DPRK, most, if not all, tour groups are required to kneel respectfully and leave flowers in front of sculptures of Kim Il Sung on one or two times. Do not attempt to enter North Korea if you are not prepared to do so. Just remember to treat pictures of the two leaders with respect at all times. This includes photographing them in a courteous manner. When photographing sculptures, particularly Mansudae, be careful to get the whole statue. Formal attire is also required while visiting significant sites such as Mansudae or the Kumsusang Memorial Palace.

Any problem you create as a tourist will very certainly be blamed on your tour guide’s failure to keep you under control, and he or she will be the one to pay the price. Furthermore, future visitors will have less flexibility and will be restricted in terms of where they can go and what they may shoot.

Apart from your tour guide, you are unlikely to encounter anybody else who knows English throughout your vacation; learning a few Korean words and phrases is a good internationalist gesture.

Despite their severe political differences, North and South Koreans have a similar culture; the many suggestions in the South Korea page under respect (such as pouring beverages with two hands) will also be useful here.


North Korea has declared itself to be agnostic. The government promotes a national self-reliance ideology known as ‘Juche,’ which some refer to as a political religion that permeates all areas of life in the country. As a visitor, you are not required to follow this, but you must always be respectful of ‘Juche’ symbols, which include pictures of former and current leaders Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un.

Although religions like as Christianity and Buddhism are legally permitted, they are actively repressed in reality, with adherents facing harsh penalties. You should still avoid religious conversations throughout your stay in North Korea, and be aware that the government takes any kind of religious preaching extremely seriously, with foreign missionaries serving life sentences in labor camps in the past. With this in mind, refrain from conducting personal religious rites or bringing religious artifacts into the nation, if at all possible.