North Korea, new tourist destination

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CARL DE KEYZER / MAGNUM PICTURES

By Chloé Aeberhardt

Rehabilitation camps, famines and ballistic tests … The Democratic People's Republic of Korea does not spontaneously evoke holidays. This does not prevent the country from opening gradually to tourists. Le Petit Futé has even dedicated a country-guide.

When we received the invitation email, we wondered if it was a joke. On March 19th, the Petit Futé publishing group invited us to a breakfast presentation of their new country-guide on North Korea. The first French travel guide entirely dedicated to this Asian country whose regime, a communist and hereditary dictatorship, has been repeatedly condemned by the UN for violation of human rights.

A destination not recommended by the Quai d'Orsay

Because it is possible to do tourism in North Korea?, Was asked by checking the e-mail of the sender. Then we went to the website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tab "travel advice". We read that "Travel to North Korea is discouraged unless there is a compelling reason" including of course, "Tourist trips" ; color code: orange.

This same platform of recommendations country by country which was the subject of a controversy at the beginning of May, after the death of two French soldiers come to free some tourists taken hostage in a park of Benin of which certain zones are classified yellow, d other orange and others still red.

Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang. The construction of the 105-storey skyscraper, begun in 1987, was interrupted several times, failing to earn the title of the tallest building in the world coveted by the North Korean state.
Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang. The construction of the 105-storey skyscraper, begun in 1987, was interrupted several times, failing to earn the title of the tallest building in the world coveted by the North Korean state. CARL DE KEYZER / MAGNUM PICTURES

France does not have diplomatic relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Quai d'Orsay suggests to nationals who find themselves in trouble, to knock on the door of the Embassy of France … in China. Which is not very reassuring. "Thank you very much for your invitation, did we answer the Petit Futé. And see you on March 19th, then. "

The "most closed country in the world"

At 9 o'clock in the morning, at the Paris headquarters of the publishing house he co-founded in 1976, Dominique Auzias impressed us: he went to every country in the world. Including North Korea, ten years ago. Skeptics can take a look in his office, where his old passports are framed.

Poet, he sees the world as a "Pleasure garden that still has some brush" that he returns to Little wily one, self-proclaimed «Travel guide of the honest man of the XXIe century " to clear. After Sudan, Siberia, Afghanistan, and before Nigeria, planned for 2020, his team has cleared the world's most closed country "Without being a judge".

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