January 21, 2021

Like African safari tours, N.Korean tourism can be ethical

Tourism companies need to insist on more person-to-person contact with North Koreans

With the recent arrest of American student Otto Warmbier, tourism to North Korea has deservedly come under fire. Yet, despite the risk of being detained by North Korean authorities and the high cost of trips to North Korea, people are still traveling to the isolated state.

While some tourists may convince themselves that they are helping to open up North Korea, more selfish reasons often underlie tourists’ travel to North Korea: They often go for the sense of adventure inherent in traveling to one of the world’s most authoritarian states with a vast prison camp system, a nuclear weapons program and a man-child leader more interested in meeting a washed-up former NBA player than the leader of China. However, adventure travel is nothing new and North Korean tourists and tour companies can learn a thing or two from (what is now) a more responsible form of adventure tourism: African safaris.