It's hard to truly capture our experience in the DPRK in words, and it will probably take some time to decompress and digest everything we saw and experienced during those ten days, visiting a nation forgotten in the past.
The DPRK admittedly caught us off guard. Our guides and the people of North Korea were extremely curious and welcoming. Every moment in the country, I felt safe and at home and not once did we feel intimidated or out of our element. The conflicts actually felt insignificant, far away, and didn't get any fanfare from the locals or Korean guides.
We saw Incredible monuments, endless rice paddies in the country, and city streets lined with pastel-salmon and seafoam colored Soviet-style homes. We visited every possible corner of the modern capital of Pyongyang and ventured as far out as the wild rural towns in North Hamgyong Province. We sang songs and danced with locals, swam in the waters of the Sea of Japan, watched skilled acrobats walk precarious tightropes at the circus, and had an intense bumper-car match at the Kaeson Funfair.
Who knew North Korea would entertain us with its microbreweries, bowling alleys, metro rides, science centers, beach bonfires, and hot spas. We ate Pyongyang cold-noodles, stayed at the famous Yanggakdo hotel, visited the DMZ, The palace of the sun, Kim Il Sung Square, and of course, Juche Tower.
"And aside from all of the surreal fun we had in this crazy country... what I came for, and what will bring me back, are the people. Real, regular, perfectly normal people who have somehow remained kind and welcoming of foreigners while being at a state of war for the past 67 years."
This trip has opened my eyes to a lot of things. But most importantly it has humanized the worlds most feared nation and offered opportunities for real connection between people who have little understanding of each other. I'm so glad I went.
Early morning you may open up your window on the 40th floor, briefly notice there is nothing stopping you from jumping straight out to your demise, and take a listen to the eerie sounds of the city waking up.