After months of hype and anticipation, our long promoted Easter Delegation tour is finally here. The trip marks the start of a new era with Visit North Korea as we kicked off last year with the aim to innovate itineraries which promote education, objectivity and quality insight into the country. Our partners at YPT have been able to provide quality support all the way, we’d like to offer them our sincere thanks for helping shape this upcoming organisation.
So here we are in Beijing at a crucial juncture. Many will always believe Visiting North Korea is unique as it is, yet this is probably one of the most unique times one can visit. Things have changed at an alarming pace. From tensions and threats of conflict came a sudden move towards reconciliation which has brought unprecedented events. The world now anxiously awaits a pending “summit” between Trump and Kim. Then, we arrived here in Beijing only to discover the latter is allegedly here himself. The fast cycle of news only adds to the flavour of the Easter Delegation, who would have thought any of this was on its way only a month ago?
Thus, the Easter Delegation arrives with a taste of excitement and anticipation in the air, which compensates for the all too familiar Beijing smog. When our partners yesterday travelled to get the North Korean visas for the group, the staff at this particular institution told us they were “very busy today” without of course, conceding any details. It stands to reason. Again adding to the hype of what is to come. For us, Visiting North Korea can become routinized, but for those on their first time here the anticipations and nerves must be killing; that goes without saying that for those of you who missed out, we have quite a program stacked up. It’s a tour aimed at meeting people, it’s a tour more aimed at understanding things than a cylinder of clique sightseeing. We’ll be heading to a North Korean middle school at Pyongsong, meeting students at Kim Il-Sung University and even being hosted with a real talk and Q&A session by an actual local official. Yet this doesn’t even scratch the surface for what we have on offer this summer, where you can study in Pyongyang or even in Chongjin, but it is nevertheless all emblematic of who we are and what we aim to achieve. One word. Education.
What is this education and what is it for? It’s about understanding, engaging and learning. We want to build bridges, we want to cut across the confrontation and foster a new era of people to people engagement between North Korea and the rest of the world. We want people to be able to understand this country with not just an open mind, but an open heart too, rejecting the cliques, stereotypes and hostilities in which the Western liberal mind frames North Korea.. Too many have so much to say about a country they know so little about. For as the late Steven Hawking quoted: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”. People assume they know well about North Korea just by reading hysterical press, wikipedia and latching onto the statements of agenda subtle politicians. Yet they don’t know just how much they don’t know. Our mission is to change that.
Regardless, a busy day lies ahead. We’re looking forwards to meeting our group later, briefing them and answering their questions about North Korea, then we’re off to the fabulous Beijing railway station and onto the K27 train towards Pyongyang. It really is time for an adventure, and it is going to be one during an exciting moment as history is shaped around us. Let’s hold on for the ride!