Tourism isn’t typically the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of North Korea. The country is widely associated with negative media coverage regarding its leadership and struggling people.
But the Democratic People’s Republic does indeed have a budding tourism industry for curious travelers, and a new app released today for iOS and Android might well be the most comprehensive guide yet.
North Korea Travel claims to show “just how much of North Korea is open to foreigners.” It includes information and photos of over 350 destinations, and also clues users in on where they can’t go. It also has sections on history, culture, travel etiquette, and a phrasebook. And because wireless connectivity is limited within the DPRK, content can be pre-downloaded for offline use. The app even includes a price comparison function so you can find the best deals from travel agencies to plan a tour on a budget. For now, it only comes in English.
This isn’t some elaborate propaganda piece by the Hermit Kingdom’s government (as far as we know). The guides were written by a Brit with “over ten years’ experience working in North Korea.” Map information was compiled by Curtis Melvin, a North Korea expert who manages a database of the country’s most extensive Google Earth imagery.
North Korea Travel was developed by Magora Systems and UniquelyTravel. The latter also plans to make similar apps for Iran, Burma, and Libya.
While the app certainly makes North Korean tourism seem more accessible, some question the ethics of supporting the DPRK through tourism dollars because of its combative regime and long list of human rights abuses. Others argue the influx of foreigners – however limited – will have a positive influence.
North Korea Travel is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play for US$0.99.