To think of North Korea may conjure up images of rockets launching and soldiers goose stepping. No doubt these are accurate images and ones Pyongyang loves to promote but what about the rest of the country? What about the lesser known scenes?
North Korea’s best attractions lie outside of the cities and outside of the full control of the watchful eye. They lie in the countryside, on it’s coastlines and on it’s beaches.
Every summer thousands of North Koreans take to the beaches in their droves to do what any one of us would do at the beach. They have picnics, cook up BBQs, play volleyball, swim, sunbathe and even sing karaoke. All relatively normal you say, so what makes this so special?
Off the leash
As you may already know, travelling in North Korea can be quite the restrictive experience to say the least. The beach is the one place where this notion goes out the window. You are dropped there and told to meet back in a couple of hours. A sense of strange normality takes over and you could have been dropped anywhere in the world. Suddenly you have free reign to wander off, drink some soju with a group of Koreans to your left, have BBQ with a North Korean family on your right or conjure up a conversation with random Koreans playing beach volleyball or wading through the wash right in front of you.
This is especially the case at Nampo beach, my favorite seaside retreat. Nampo beach is only about an hour and a half drive west of Pyongyang. On a summers day it is teeming with North Koreans doing exactly what you would expect from people on almost any beach on earth. The ability to interact, socialize with all barriers down makes this; North Korea’s best attraction.