When I embarked on my very first journey to the DPRK exactly 53 weeks ago, I did not envision making the “hermit kingdom” a frequent travel destination. I wanted to leave my comfort zone, experience one of the most unique places in the world, and see what it was like for myself beyond the media hype, perhaps before it was too late.
Months before my first trip, General Kim Jong Il passed away, leaving the world wondering what would be next. As it turns out, the rhetoric didn’t change much and tensions between the DPRK and the west escalated as the Great Successor Comrade Kim Jong Un prepared to launch a rocket in time for the country’s 100th anniversary.
Does any of this sound familiar? A year later, it seems like the same record is being played again. The media frenzy is greater, hyped up by threats of nuclear war, but the basic rhetoric and turn of events are basically the same—escalations and threats eventually leading to a whole bunch of nothing.
But that was enough to get me hooked. Hooked to the thrill of history in motion and fascinated by a place that is so poorly understood by the West’s own admittance. I started devouring literature on the history and dynamic of the region and following the news of the Korean peninsula virtually daily. Continue reading