North Korea Travel Vlog – Rozz Recommends Season 3: EP4

North Korea Travel Vlog – Rozz Recommends Season 3: EP4


North Korea’s been on my bucket list for
years now. Its painted by traditional media to be a dystopian state of hard labour camps,
large scale military parades, and starving people ruled by decades of brutal dictatorship.
Naturally it got me interested. Now, I’ve visited many terribly misunderstood countries like
Iran, for example, and cuba. But both turned out to be amazing places with the awesomest
people. I’m hoping for a similar takeaway from my trip to North Korea. I want to go
beyond the politics and visit the notoriously secretive country that 25 million people call
home. The only way to enter North Korea is via China.
International visitors like myself would find it easiest to depart from Beijing. You could
either take a 2.5hr flight from Beijing to Pyongyang on Air Koyro, or catch an overnight
train. I decided for the full experience I would train in, and fly out. This is the general hallway and look, no doors.
It’s 3 a side so that’s the top-most cabin, the middle, and that’s me at the bottom. And
the thing about being at the bottom bed is you have to share seating space. It’s just
courtesy. This train journey will take me 800km to the
Chinese border city of Dandong. So I just arrived in Dandong after 24 hours
in a train. This face has definitely seen better days. I haven’t showered, I’m not sure
how I smell. I hope not bad, I’m just standing by the bridge here in Dandong and it’s pretty
much North Korea across. We’re at the China side of the bridge and
people are allowed to walk on this car bridge. You must be wondering where does China stop
and North Korea start. Well, it’s pretty abrupt. I’m gonna zoom in for you. The bridge just cuts off right there. Crossing the yellow river via the Sino-Korean
friendship bridge got me super excited and really nervous.
10 minutes later, I arrived at the North Korean border city of Sinuiju. Feels like I’ve travelled
back in time. I caught sight of portraits of the 2 leaders hanging on the wall, and
that was super unnerving. This was where everyone had to disembark for North Korean customs
check. Contrary to popular belief, cameras and smartphones
are actually allowed. The only items not allowed are religious texts, foreign newspapers, North
or South Korea travel guide books and brochures, telephoto lens, GPS devices and drones. After an intense hour-long wait, we were allowed
back on the train to Pyongyang. There, I caught my first sight of North Korea. Kids bathing
in rivers, stretches of farm land as far as the eye can see, very basic architecture,
some farm animals, people commuting on bicycles, wide roads with not a single car in sight.
At this point, with no data roaming signal, I’m effectively cut off from the outside world
for the next 10 days. We arrive to 1950s architecture and fashion.
With propaganda songs blaring loudly throughout the station, it was really strange. Like nothing
I’ve ever experienced before. We have arrived at the Yanggakdo International
Hotel. This is gonna be our home for the next 3 nights. This is one of the few hotels where
international visitors get to stay at. And this is my room. See what’s outside the
window. Wow! The room is kitschy and everything, but the
one thing that really caught my attention was the calendar on the wall. Tadah! What is going on? Move aside, Blackpink! North Korea girl group
is here to stay and conquer. Alright, so we’re here at the hotel restaurant
for dinner. This is our first dinner in Pyongyang. Can you guess what this is? Before I cut into
it. Fried bread? Okay this is bread. Oh! Oh… Meat. Mystery meat. Nothing about this hotel excites me. Not even the so-called Recreation Centre which…
really looks more like a gloomy bomb shelter than a centre for fun and relaxing activities.
You know what? In fact, there’s nothing relaxing about this hotel. Heading out to breakfast right now. I’m staying
at the 35th floor as you can see. This, if you’re wondering, is the hotel where that
American tourist was staying at and he went to the forbidden Level 5 and he stole one
of the slogans and he got caught and pretty much died after he was released. So yeah, this was that hotel. I am definitely
not going to the 5th floor, or stealing anything for sure. So if you can see, all the floors. There’s 1, 2, 3, 4, and then 5 is missing,
and 6. This is pretty much what goes on. 5th floor
is the telecom and TV Relay Studio and then 6th and 7th floor for staff only. So 5th to
7th floors are no-access zones for guests. First night in Pyongyang, sorted. Now I’m
gonna go on to explore the city today. I’m here in downtown Pyongyang. This is pretty
much the central of the central of districts. There are about 17 altogether. Mostly residential
areas. Now what stood out about pyongyang is that
there are no advertising billboards anywhere. Only propaganda murals with ideas and their
leaders faces. There are wide open roads with hardly any
cars. The soviet-style concrete apartment blocks
remind me a little bit of our HDB flats back in Singapore. Only they’re much larger here
in North Korea. Now here’s a fun fact: coloured paint on buildings
was only introduced 10 years ago by Kim Il. Jong Before that the city looked like pretty
much 50 shades of gloomy grey. We’re pretty much on a shopping street but
they’re not really marked out. This is a beauty salon? See, can’t tell. Supermarket. And what’s this Oh okay, I can somewhat tell
that it’s a noodle restaurant. Why is it all covered? Dog meat? Okay, this is like China as well. This, across the road, is the Kim Il-Sung
Square where all the military parades are held. That’s where the cabinet and all the
ministries are located as well. We’re not allowed on the square, just a view
of it across the road. These markings that you see on the floor are
the exact positions on where to stand for the mass demonstrations when people dance
and march and sing and whatnot. These are the exact spots that you stand at.
If you are lucky to get chosen, you gotta memorise these spots. So today is a public holiday and we’re celebrating
the 66th anniversary of the Victory Day. So many people behind me. Now, I was a bit confused… didn’t the
war end in armistice? Anyhoos, it’s a national holiday that’s celebrated with nation-wide
mass dances that go for one hour, rain, snow or shine. I’m here at the Pyongyang Indoor
Stadium to watch university students dance away to upbeat propaganda tunes. Most of them
turned away when they see me hovering around with a camera, all but this guy. He looked
straight at me… and smiled. I am at Moranbong Park. This is where the
locals hang out. Oh my god, a random pony in a park! It’s so cute! There’re like carriages getting drawn in this park. Hi! Approaching a snack stall right now. Guys, I just got offered. I got invited to
a picnic! Here? Oh! Mmm! This is amazing! It’s too hot outside so we decided to retreat
into the cool interiors of the bowling alley. This is the largest bowling alley I’ve ever
seen. There’re 40 lanes. Holy crap! Yes, yes! Wow! This is so surreal, bowling in the DPRK. So we’re here at the arena where we’re gonna
catch the circus. Show is happening right now, I’m gonna rush to get in. Oh my god, this is the interior of the building.
I love the architecture in here. I was told I’d be watching human acrobats.
The show, sad to say, was largely boring and borderline repetitive until boomz, out came
2 brown bears acting as stage assistants! I mean, it’s so wrong on so many counts but I
found it quite refreshing, at that very moment, to be in a space where zero fucks are given
to political correctness! I’m just done with the circus. I was told
no animals but there were 2 bears. I’m a bit disturbed that I actually paid to support
an animal perform. I mean it’s no Cirque du Soleil but it’s pretty death-defying stunts.
I hardly saw a harness. I’m just glad it’s kinda over and everyone’s safe, no one died. I’m here at the May Day Stadium. This is the
largest stadium in the world with a seating capacity of 115,000. Can you imagine that? This is where the Mass Games is gonna be happening
at, I just cannot wait to see the very famous placard wall. I paid EUR100 for my third-class ticket, which
is a little expensive but the Mass Games is a must-watch when you’re visiting North Korea. The backdrop looks like a large digital screen
except that it’s not. It’s made up of 17,500 students manually flipping placards to create
images throughout the show, can you believe that? This spectacular show really puts Singapore’s
national day parade to shame in terms of its sheer scale and level of showmanship. The
North Korean Mass Games happens 6 days a week, for 5 months a year. Performed by tens of
thousands of students who do this on top of their classes in school. This over-the-top display of military might
really amused me. On one hand, I couldn’t stop laughing at how ridiculous it looked,
but I also thought about how I’d never want to fuck with a guy who looked tougher than
the bed of nails he laid on. I’m here at the top of Juche Tower. It’s the
world’s tallest stone tower and it gives me a 360 bird’s eye view of Pyongyang. It costs
RMB40 or the equivalent of EUR5 (SGD7.50) to get up here and it’s totally worth it,
even on a cloudy day like this. If you’re wondering about that building that’s
jutting out from the landscape, it’s actually a hotel but it’s a shell hotel. It’s not in
operation. Don’t know when it’s gonna be open, but it still makes for a very magnificent
addition to the skyline. Now, here in North Korea, it’s mandatory for
a local guide to follow you everywhere. But that’s not the case here in the Munsu
Water Theme Park, a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike because here, we’re allowed
to roam around freely on our own! And despite everyone being half naked here, we’re also
allowed to take as many pictures as we like! I mean, I don’t understand but I quickly learnt
that nothing quite makes sense in North Korea, and to just go with the flow. And go with
the flow I did. Didn’t think I’d need a swimsuit in North Korea so I didn’t pack
one in my luggage but lucky, there’s one for rent. Gonna change into it right now. Standby,
standby. So I’m a scaredy cat, I can’t do the big rides.
So I gotta roll with the kids and this is my jam! No matter where I am in the world,
I’ll always find a hair salon because I hate washing my own hair! Plus today at the shower
room, there was too many people. Sometimes, 2 or 3 people in one shower. I may not look
it, but I’m actually quite conservative. So I decided to get my hair washed at a hair
salon and guess what, I’m the only one here! Some other highlights include chancing upon
a roomful of topless men in tights playing pool. They sucked. Here inside the DMZ, we’re doing a little
tour here from the DPRK side. When in the DPRK, there are some rules you have to observe. You can take photos and videos, but just not of military personnel, okay? But this guy,
he’s cool! This is the table where the armistice agreement
was signed from the DPRK side. I’m actually sitting on the original chair. As you can
see, the DPRK flag behind and the armistice agreement behind me. So surreal. So I’m here at the JSA. A very thin concrete
line separates DPRK from South Korea that’s behind me.That grey building in the background
is South Korean land. So where is South Korea? Guide: You see on the ground, the colour is
different. The central line… This line here. Guide: Yes, yes, yes. So one part is concrete, the other part is
gravel. So the concrete part is DPRK? Guide: Yeah. And then the gravel part is South Korean. Guide: Right. So that’s Kaesong City behind me. This is
the satellite city for the DMZ. This is pretty much a bird’s eye view of Kaesong
old town. The houses are a bit more traditional. Single storied, traditional roofs. So I’m here now having a traditional Korean
lunch. It’s said that you can tell how the guest
is regarded by the number of dishes the guest is served. Of course, the more number of dishes,
the more highly regarded. And we have 11 which is the maximum number of courses served in
these gold, brass bowls. That means we’re VIPs today, bitches. On the back to Pyongyang, we stopped by a
town called Sariwon for a spot of dancing… in the middle of a road in korean traditional
gear. But I still can’t believe I was allowed to do this…in North Korea! Sun Hyeung, what the hell did I just do? Sun Hyeung: Actually this is the first time
for me to see this kind of a performance. Actually this is kind of a uniform for the
queens in the feudal dynasty. Rozz: OH! OH MY GOD! I cannot believe I just wore a royal outfit…
a traditional royal outfit and did a chicken dance. We’re about to take the metro right now and
see what it’s like underground. Yes, it’s Sun Hyeung. Whenever she wears white,
it rains. Sun Hyeung: Right, so tomorrow I should wear
the grey one. Rozz: Yes, please. Thanks. Sun Hyeung: That means there’s no rain. Rozz: Thank you. So there’re no signs depicting the metro,
but one clue is you get a clock at the top of every single metro entrance. That’s when
you know that you’re entering the metro. Taking the metro with locals in Pyongyang
was a really special experience that started with riding the longest escalator I’ve ever
been on to get down to the tracks – 110m to be exact! Word has it that these stations
double up as bomb shelters. Wow. Wow, wow. This is the most beautiful and grandest metro
station I’ve ever been in. Just look at the ceiling art. Wow, and the wall art. Amazing,
amazing. Now you must be wondering: is the Pyongyang
metro real? Yes, it is. Despite having only 2 main lines that serve a total of 16 stations,
the world’s deepest metro is a real and functioning subway system. I got to stop at 3 out of 16
stations. The giant mosaic propaganda murals, smart retro uniforms, commuters gathering
around newspaper stands to read the daily news, brutalist architecture, train interior
all made for great photos. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to you but to me, the
Pyongyang metro counts as one of the most mysterious and beautiful transit systems in
the world. The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace is managed
by the Korean Youth Corps, a political organisation linked to the incumbent Worker’s Party of
Korea. It is the largest palace dedicated to children’s extra-curricular activities
such as performing arts, foreign languages, computer science and sports. So behind me are a bunch of girls on guitars.
This is like my absolute favourite. This is super cool, seeing them picking on the strings
and all that. Super rock and roll. I’ve been told that in order to understand
North Koreans, I first need to understand the role of their leaders. They can never
be criticised and are revered like living gods so strict rules apply when photographing them:
I’ve to stand a distance away, statues must always be shot in their entirety, no selfies,
no hand signs and definitely no asian jump shots. Okay so we drove about 4 hours from Pyongyang
to this amazing area called Ullim. This is a mountainous region where we’re just right
by the waterfall. This is our lunch area. We’re gonna stop here for about an hour before
we drive to Wonson to hang out by the beach. So I’m just sitting here at Ullim waterfall
right now. This was discovered in 2001. It rained yesterday so we’re treated to this
amazing waterfall, check this out. After 1.5 hours’ drive from the waterfall
I’ve finally arrived to the beach. This is the city of Wonson. Now if Wonson sounds familiar
to you, that’s probably because you heard it on the news. This is where the DPRK government
has launched 2 test missiles, you know, towards the direction of Japan. But we’re not here to talk about politics
today. I’m really grateful that we’re here on the beach. It’s summer, and I just wanna
get into the water. Everyone pays to use the beach. The left part
costs more than the right part, so naturally it’s more party vibes on the right because
that’s where everyone’s at because it’s cheaper. Come follow me, I’m gonna go under – this
is where the local’s part is. It’s under this barrier. Yes, just crossed the barrier. This is what I’m talking about, this is way
more fun, can you see, there’s so many more people here! Everyone is super duper friendly here, I love
it. This is a great day out! So it’s been a while since my trip to North
Korea. I needed all this time to process my 10 days there because it’s not like any day
that you just pop into North Korea for a holiday. I still remember my very first day in North
Korea. Stepping into that country felt like a very surreal experience. The environment
was very unfamiliar, slightly threatening almost. Felt like I was walking on egg shells
the whole time and all I wanted to do was be on my best behaviour, for obvious reasons. But then after 10 days, I remember feeling
a bit more relaxed. It almost feels like I know the country and its people a little bit
better. North Koreans are extremely shy and guarded people. And I’d like to think that
that’s because they’re not really that exposed to foreigners being around. Thankfully, there’s
no proverbial ice that the odd dance battle on the beach, or Snapchat filters can’t break.
I even got invited to crash a friend’s BBQ party at a park. That was pretty dope, I wasn’t
expecting that at all but they were like, “Come on and join us!” and I was like,
“Okay!” Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but
I found that it’s simply the intent to want to connect at a basic human level that makes
such a profound difference. And maybe one day, we can all get along despite our differences. Don’t forget to follow us on social media
and download the Clicknetwork app to watch the episodes way before they get uploaded
on YouTube. Till the next trip, bye!

100 thoughts on “North Korea Travel Vlog – Rozz Recommends Season 3: EP4

  1. Thank you Rozz for this unforgettable insight into North Korea. Now I have a better idea than before what North Korea is like.

  2. Its not that something is wrong with the people of North Korea, its their crazy dictator. The people are basically prisoners and are trying to make the best of a miserable situation.

  3. It really is like you travelled back like when you arrived at the North Korean station I also thought it was weird that they didn’t allow north/south travel guide books

  4. You really should have done better research or maybe been more transparent.The Koreans involved in such parades or anywhere you are allowed to visit are putting on a show for the tourists. Pyongyang is only the capital, and does not show the hardships of the citizens not lucky enough to live in the capital. Everything shown in your vlog is propaganda.

  5. Rozz you’re travel vlogs are more than just videos, they are informative, entertaining and most of all they remind us we are human being. You actually reminded an important thing, that people can still connect with each other despite all the differences, if they are willing to do so. Thank you so much for sharing these surreal experiences with people like me, who maybe can never visit North Korea but felt still life changing thanks to this video.

  6. This is actually so crazy. Even though for me this looks just like "good old USSR times" ( i didn't live back then, but i see a huge amount of similarities) I'm from Russia, Moscow

  7. I hope the tourism to NK won't increase over years, even though the documentaries about it is interesting. The money tourists are giving goes to government and nothing to the citizens living there, and they are using it to develop their research in nuclear weapons ;(

  8. I can imagine how disrespected the north coreans were when u dressed up like in that pink traditional dancing robes. Like they don’t have any choice when It comes to anything. It’s kind of humiliating.

  9. I myself have wanted to go North Korea because I find it very interesting as well. Yes people are right that the entire country is not as modern and lavish as this or else people wouldn’t be fleeing. I think the point of her vlog is to show that they are still similar to the rest of the world with their education and technology. The nature is very beautiful there and maybe someday the rest of the country will be able to live in the same modern conveniences

  10. this was interesting to watch after watching the korean drama "crash landing on you" which showcases some elements of life in NK!

  11. Very enjoyable vlog. However, people should understand that these lavish performances are purposely put in place for tourists to portray North Korea. We should not take things are face value, but this video provided great insight on North Korea's might and determination.

  12. I like how she mentions how threatening of a feeling it was to be there as a tourist. This was my only thumbs down in the series but Rozz gives no F's so I still watch her content. But I will definitely never support tourism to NK.

    I wonder what will happen to that boy that smiled in the photo or that service member who was photographed.

  13. wow rozz, going to NK is on one of my bucket list.
    i heard only a few agencies offer the tour.
    may i know which one did u follow? thanks!

  14. Even tho I will never going to go there because I don't like that country, but it was very informative, thank you for the information! ??

  15. That was really an insightful video on North Korea! It contradicts with whatever impressions I have of it, usually negative. Just thought that maybe I should take whatever I hear now abt N. Korea with a pinch of salt. Maybe things are changing..

  16. “It puts singapore national day to shame” singapore is free to attend ndp… they put effort for months. Appreciate it girl ?

  17. Personally I think it is a bit rude to film people without their permission or acknowledgment if they don't want to be in the video please blur thier faces you don't know the impact it may have on them or how it will affect thier lives

  18. You were brave to go to this country. The fact that they make tourists have a government minder go everywhere with them should tell us all that this video only contained what the NK government wants outsiders to see. This country is led by a murderous dictator and the conditions in the rest of the country are horrible.

  19. The rules have definitely relaxed for tourists in NK. I've seen many other documentaries from a few years ago and every bit of the tourists visit was planned out and supervised. No filming, taking pictures and I don't think phones were allowed either.

  20. The tour guide is so pretty and gentle.!! I wanna visit the country side of North Korea and see how do they live and eat. I’m extremely curious

  21. Watched documentaries and those shop are mostly empty. The place roz visit is like a display for visitors. Those people seen having a decent life is minority. They are consider useful people in the society. Mostly because they are in military. This magic circle their dictator tries to create to brain wash visitors that they are doing well. But fact is they are not. You don't see cars because the people need permission to travel. Those cars you see most probably Is a set up. Also spending money there all goes to fund the govt. These people don't really get salary if I don't remember wrong. Majority of the people live outside of this magic circle. They have farms that plants drugs and they can only use their feaces to nourish the plant. Reality is sad. You see their people all so skinny but their dictator fat as hell.

  22. Not trying to be rude but I watch alot of travel vlogs… North Korean Guides always have really good English.. usually even way better then Chinese Korean Japanese or Vietnamese guides on travel vlogs… Strange you would think there English wouldn't be so good being isolated and all…

  23. i can’t help but being afraid that every north koreans that willing to be recorded in this video will be punished ???

  24. Rozz is inspiring, as always. The way she narrates, the way she interacts and immerse into their culture. Its truly a traveller's insight, not just taking mandatory pics of attractions like typical tourists. More series pls?

  25. its refreshing, to see a country like this. looks dated, but its nice to see not everyone glued to cellphones lol. i wanna travel with you?

  26. Amazing video! ❤ Great channel! ??? I will be a permanent subscriber to your channel. ? Success for you ??, but also for me ???.

  27. Many people who commented are salty af. LOL! Please take ur saltiness to your food not here.

    Love the video!!! Such good way to put it

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