If you don’t mind us getting too philosophical, just what is reality? and how do we know we have a firm grasp on it? We might conceive reality around us based on what we see, hear, read and observe. Certainly, it feels very feel, but is there not more to it than that? Definitely so according to ancient Greek philosopher Plato, whom through his famous Allegory of the Cave, conceived the “everyday reality” typical people perceived as a little more than an illusion blinding them from real truth. But you’re probably wondering now, just what does this all mean? and how does it relate to travel to North Korea? Let’s find out.
Plato’s allegory tells the story of a group of prisoners trapped in an underground cave. They were chained in place and made to face a wall which was lit before a torchlight. On a ledge above them, several puppeteers utilized puppets to create moving shadows against the wall. For the prisoners, this is their reality, they are ultimately not aware of their condition. This is symbolic of the everyday world around us. Everyday individuals are trapped in a sensory world created through the filter of mass media, the elite and politicians who dispatch a series of representations concerning the world, its people and its countries. For example, in the western world, amongst these representations comes a set of beliefs in moral superiority and an unquestioned right to intervene, attack and impose its will on others. To the average person, the western liberal way is “the only way”. The everyday people who receive this information take it for granted and do not think critically about the world they are taught to believe in; they become the prisoners of the false reality portrayed to them.
The allegory continues. Plato states that one of the prisoners, who ultimately becomes the philosopher, manages to recognise the false reality around him and break free. He is able to venture outside and slowly bit by bit, perceive the real world around him. Although his eyes hurt at first at the light of the sun, but the more he experiences the real world, the more he conceives and understands. The Sun symbolizes the true state of all things, illuminating them as they really are in contrast to the torch in the cave. Eventually, the philosopher begins to take pity for those still trapped inside the cave, recognizing they are in a state of illusion. He wishes they could be freed, but he recognizes that those within have become accustomed to this reality and will fiercely resist anyone who tries to take them out. This can be interpreted as those who seek beyond the illusionary world which the media creates. Some people are able to think critically about the assumptions placed within them, breaking free from the cave. However when they challenge the conventional understandings of the world, they are treat with disdain and contempt. In promoting travel and objective thinking concerning North Korea, we are often branded “apologists” or “crazy” by those still within the bubble. The taunters believe they are being original and smart, but in reality they are uncritically repeating discourses, cliques and understandings given to them by the politico-economic-media complex, which are often created to gratify and justify the interests of a given group in society.
We however, continue to encourage people to “escape from the cave”, think critically about the world around them and discover the more objective reality. By Visiting North Korea, you gain the opportunity to objectively engage with the country in contrast to how it is portrayed in everyday clique thinking. You can step aside and pass through conventional prejudices that the country is dangerous, unsafe and that its people are scripted robots. Our tours allow you to experience the DPRK on a sincere human level, ultimately breaking down barriers and building bridges. We run Visit North Korea because we want people to be thinkers, armed with the courage to help people think differently. Although like in the allegory, not everyone will believe you, your travel and your effort truly can make a difference.