How do the North Korean people react to foreigners?

If you are hesitating whether or not to book a trip to North Korea, there is an important question which will undoubtedly play a big role in that decision. Can I talk or otherwise interact with the North Korean people? If yes, how do they respond? I didn’t know what to expect when I visited the country, because I had read different views on the internet.

Honestly, the answer is YES. You can talk and interact with the North Korean people as much as you would like. I should note most of them speak only Korean, so you will have to brush op on your languages. Some Koreans speak a little Chinese or some English, but this is very uncommon. It would also be advisable not to ask any sensitive questions as a matter of courtesy and respect. You will not get an answer anyway. Wouldn’t it be strange if someone came up to you in England or the United States and suddenly from out of nowhere question your stance on all sorts of political issues?

So yes, it is definitely possible to interact with the Koreans, you are free to talk to anyone you can see, and you won’t be halted by anyone. My personal experience is that the average Korean will be very shy towards you, but very friendly. This accounts for both grown men, youthful women and little kids. They don’t see foreigners very often and therefore they don’t know what to expect, but show a friendly face and they can open up to you.

I never felt unwelcome when interacting with these people, whether I was sharing beers, peanuts,  helping Koreans in the train carry their awfully heavy luggage, trying to find a common language or just exchanging glances on the street. Or that one time in the Pyongyang metro when a couple of Korean boys where “attacking” each-other with their umbrellas, only to slowly move backwards and hide behind a pillar when they discovered me smiling at them. Obviously they were only curious, and they kept looking anyway, not really afraid.


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