The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea, remains one of the world’s most secretive and tightly-controlled societies. For those daring to tread the less-traveled path, this guide serves to outline the practicalities and impossibility of a digital nomadic lifestyle in North Korea.
Understanding the Travel Limitations
Crucially, U.S. and South Korean passport holders should be aware that their passports are not valid for travel into, in, or through North Korea due to the risk of arrest and long-term detention. Exceptions are rare, granted under very specific circumstances, and require special validation at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Applying for a North Korea Visa
If one still wishes to visit North Korea, the visa application process requires meticulous attention. Applications must be lodged at a DPRK Embassy, typically in Beijing, China, or in any country that maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea. Residents of the United States should inquire through the DPRK Mission to the UN to assess the likelihood of visa approval before leaving the U.S.
Inside North Korea: The End of Digital Nomadism
North Korea is an entirely different landscape for anyone accustomed to the digital nomad lifestyle. The state dictates and rigidly controls all activities. Independent exploration or free interaction with locals are strictly prohibited. You are bound to follow the tour, and deviation from the official itinerary can lead to severe consequences, including imprisonment.
Additionally, the country maintains a tight grip on internet access, limiting it to state-approved content. The widespread availability of the World Wide Web, a prerequisite for digital nomadism, is essentially non-existent in North Korea. This environment makes working remotely, the lifeblood of digital nomads, impossible.
Travel Insurance for North Korea
Despite the impossibility of digital nomadism, if you still plan a visit, securing travel insurance for North Korea can be challenging. Most Western insurance companies may not offer coverage due to potential travel advisories. However, your tour agency may have partnered with an insurer that covers trips to North Korea. It is crucial to ensure that your policy covers medical emergencies, travel disruption, and medical evacuation.
The Bottom Line
North Korea presents a unique travel experience shrouded in intrigue and mystique. However, it remains strictly off-limits for digital nomads due to its severe restrictions on freedom of movement and lack of internet access. Thus, it’s essential to weigh the risks carefully and fully understand the regulations before deciding to venture into this intriguing yet highly controlled country.
You better go to South Korea if you wish to work remotely from this region of Asia. Check our article about the South Korean Digital Nomad Visa.