About the Author
View more articles by Chad O'Carroll
Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
While debate about the appropriateness of tourism in North Korea has swirled for many years, it has become increasingly prominent of late. Increasing tourist numbers have meant increasing attention on the subject, while a flurry of recent tourist arrests have underscored the diplomatic ramifications of the industry like never before.
Proponents of tourism typically argue that the people-to-people contact enabled by North Korea tourism helps improve local views of foreigners, which, following decades of isolation and propaganda about the decadence and vulgarity of Western capitalism, is a good thing. Some go even further and suggest that tourism has a potentially subversive effect – that interaction with foreigners shows North Korean citizens just how far behind they are from the developed world, subsequently influencing them to question their government's intentions more.