1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what’s your name? where are you from? What do you in life? What do you enjoy?
My name is George. I was born and raised in London, where I still live, working as an analyst in the insurance industry. In my free time I enjoy reading, food, watching films and walking.
2. Why did you choose to Visit North Korea? What were your reasons?
I’d always been interested in East Asia; I’d spent some time in China and had visited other countries in the region. However, North Korea was always a blind spot – a mysterious and isolated hermit kingdom hidden behind a bamboo curtain and only visible through rare glimpses in the media. So why I wanted to visit North Korea was because I thought that the Asian Century should be a positive and inclusive idea – I wanted to see for myself the patch of land that conceptualisations of an Asia-led world always ignored. The reason was that I wanted to view with my own eyes that part of the Indo-Pacific that was too often forgotten in discussions about the area.
4. When you visited, What did you learn from your experience? How has it influenced your life?
I learned never to judge a book by its cover, and I learned that if we as a society want to innovate and disrupt and to rapidly turn fresh ideas, then we need to improve our blue-sky thinking and think outside the box. Basically, if we want to engender long-lasting change and create a truly future-positive global environment, then we need to move beyond old stereotypes of North Korea – and other places and issues – and use real-life experiences to analyse the world in a more critical manner. The two friends who accompanied me, Justin and Alexandra, flew out of Pyongyang with a similar mindset. My time in North Korea has had a major influence on my life. I now find myself looking at problems in a different way. I am questioning many of the things I was previously completely sure of. I am now even considering quitting my job, selling my flat and venturing out into the world on a new path, carrying no baggage except this fresh approach to the universe.
5. What did you enjoy most about the trip?
I most enjoyed visiting Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, where I had the opportunity to forge lasting cross-cultural connections with fellow millennials. It was great to be able to engage with emerging youth leaders in what was clearly a future-focused and innovation-centric talent incubator.
6. Do you believe other people should Visit North Korea too? Why?
Definitely! If you want to cast off the shackles of preconceptions and staid ways of thinking, then go to North Korea. If everyone visited North Korea, then perhaps we could truly innovate and enact social change to create a better world.