July 30, 2021

‘Lonely’ and ‘paranoid’: Living under constant watch as an expat in North Korea

Life in Pyongyang is what you make of it, but living under never-ending surveillance can be hard to cope with

Editor’s note: The following anonymous essay is written by an official who lived in North Korea for several years. It’s an edited personal account responding to the question, “What’s it like to live in the DPRK and constantly be monitored — and what are the psychological impacts of that?”

Living in North Korea for an extended period of time is lonely, and it’s not always easy to consistently “appreciate” the rare experience, nor keep up an upbeat attitude.