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workers-party-monument-pyongyangWhere is left to explore? It’s a shrinking world, travel is getting easier and cheaper, people are more adventurous, destinations are more accessible. Soon there may be nowhere left unexplored. Or will there? Think again… Team Umbrella like to go against the grain… “A rebours” as our French colleagues have described us. We like to stretch boundaries, and since clients are constantly asking for “something different”, we like to offer them what they’ve asked for. In the past we’ve suggested some unusual destinations. Chernobyl springs to mind, as does our recent team-building event in Transylvania. But now we think we’ve found another gem. Ladies and Gentlemen, how would you like your next incentive group to visit North Korea?

OK, now that you’ve stopped laughing and/or picked yourself up from the floor, let’s be serious. North Korea. Why? As George Mallory famously replied when asked why he wanted to climb Everest: “Because it’s there”. But there are many more reasons to visit this enigma of the modern world, and we would like to share a few of them. (I would add that although none of our team have visited North Korea yet, we make a point of thoroughly researching destinations).

Everything that you’ve heard about North Korea may be true, but it’s unlikely. Certainly anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting will a different tale to those who have not. For example, many people believe that you cannot visit North Korea as a tourist – not true. It’s not a case of simply arriving at the border with your passport and some local currency, but tourism to North Korea is growing in popularity, albeit from a slow start. It’s true that when seen from space at night, North Korea is a sea of darkness, as power is in very short supply; but that doesn’t mean that when you are in your hotel at night you won’t be able to switch on a light. You may not be free to simply roam the streets at will, exploring everywhere that catches your eye, but neither will you be shepherded by armed guards and forced to stare at the ground for fear of seeing something that you’re not supposed to. And possibly the most bizarre story that we have heard is untrue – it is NOT illegal to wear brightly coloured clothing in North Korea.

tomb-of-king-kongmin-in-kaesongSo what is there to see? You could visit Pyongyang, with its famous monuments – the Arch of Triumph for example, or the Taedong Gate. There are many parks and open spaces, and you may get to see a parade. With a backdrop of propaganda posters and bicycles you might think that this is how you’d imagined North Korea to be… until you notice the extremely modern skyscrapers and the friendly, smiling faces. Equally interesting is the journey to Pyongyang on the subway, which is said to be extremely advanced and very deep, with plenty of marble features and extremely clean and comfortable trains. Korean food is tasty and every visitor will have the chance to sample delicious kimchee – as close as you’ll get to a national dish. Add this to the interesting and varied landscape and surroundings, and you will find that North Korea is a destination that will both challenge your preconceptions, and will allow you to see a society that is radically different to your own. It’s a country that is developing at its own pace, on its own terms.

How do we know all of this? We have excellent contacts who have given us first-hand information. There are several companies who offer travel to North Korea, but our own contact is actually based there. Or you could take the word of people who have visited, as in this BBC article : Please note that our contact is not mentioned in this article.

Tempted? Would you like to give your group the travel experience that none of their friends have tried? Contact us here and we can chat.