North Korean summer program for brave—and crazy—students
Kim Il-sung University will host a three-week summer program for international students, beginning July 2.
Apparently, North Korea expects to still be around by then.
Accommodation has been arranged for a maximum of 30 students, who will live in dorms on the university campus and study with “top Korean professors.” After four hours a day of intensive Korean language lessons, students can take side trips to such sites as the Demilitarized Zone.
But you’d better behave yourselves!
You could end up like American Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student from Ohio, who was sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour in March of 2016 for attempting to steal a political poster from his hotel in Pyongyang.
Warmbier’s crime was called an “act of hostility against the state” with “the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.”
The poster he wanted to take home as a souvenir stated: “Let’s arm ourselves strongly with Kim Jong-il’s patriotism!” Taking or damaging anything with the name or image of one of their leaders is a serious crime in North Korea. Kim Jong-il was the father of current leader Kim Jong-un.
Warmbier, who was in North Korea as a tourist with a New Year’s tour group, was arrested at Pyongyang International Airport as he tried to leave the country. He was convicted and sentenced in a one-hour trial by the North Korean Supreme Court.
A sentence of hard labor is a life of toil from five in the morning to eight at night — in the fields, down a mine or in a factory — for a daily meal of a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) corn cake.
Price includes return flight to Beijing—maybe!
But whatever turns you on. Applications are being taken by Juche Travel Services, a British tour agency specializing in trips to North Korea. After the Korean language lessons, the weekend excursions include:
- The Demilitarized Zone, a 4 km-(2.5 mile)-wide area between North and South Korea—the world’s most heavily guarded border—created by the Korean Armistice Agreement following the Korean War.
- The ancient city of Gaeseong (Kaesong) near the Kaesong Industrial Region and the South Korean border. The city contains the remains of Manwoldae Palace, the official royal palace of the Goryeo Dynasty which was destroyed during the Red Turbans invasions of Korea in the 14th century.
- International Friendship house in the Myohyang Mountains. Myohyang-san (“Mysterious Fragrant Mountain”) is a sacred site that according to legend was the home of King Tangun, forefather of the Korean people.
- Wonsan, a port city and naval base in Kangwŏn Province along the eastern side of the Korean Peninsula, on the Sea of Japan. The city is a summer destination with resorts and entertainment.
The three-week summer package costs 2.4 million won ($2,133) and includes 22 nights’ accommodation, all entry fees, transportation in North Korea and dining, and, if you’re lucky, return flights to Beijing.
American tourism in North Korea is legal, but the U.S. State Department strongly advises against it.