Red Corner: North Korea Loophole

Considering that it is almost impossible to obtain a tourist visa into North Korea, I was rather excited to hear about a small little loophole which allows visitors to cross the border for a brief tour of a very special mountain.

Mt. Kumgang has a legendary reputation throughout the Korean peninsula for its rugged beauty. Its location in the North, however, has made it nearly impossible to visit until just recently when Hyundai Asan arranged with the North Korean government to bring tourists to the mountain.

Helen E. Sung, writing for the LA Times, recently made the journey north. Sure, the mountain was lovely, she writes, but the real appeal of the journey is the glimpse into a particularly horrible totalitarian system of government. Cell phones, telephoto lens, and even South Korean newspapers and magazines were not allowed across the border. Minders accompanied the group at all times and guests stayed in a special tourist compound/resort cut off from the rest of the country.

Sure, it’s not the real North Korea, but I, for one, would still like to check it out.