October 04, 2023

Is Tourism in North Korea Really Booming?

If tourism is growing, should it be encouraged?

Yesterday North Korea's state news agency proclaimed that foreign tourism is currently booming in North Korea, despite the fact that just one week prior the country conducted its third nuclear test. Pointing out that the tourist industry has been growing steadily since 2000, the Korea Central News Agency reported that North Korea has recently seen a high increase in European visitors, an expanding network of travel routes, and even a proliferation of positive reviews surfacing on online travel websites.

So what's going on? Are tourist numbers sharply increasing or is this just a case of over-ambitious reporting by North Korean propagandists? If numbers are booming, what are the ethical implications? And finally, is tourism in North Korea something to be encouraged?