“I entered North Korea with four clean pairs of underwear, four pairs of socks, three shirts, a pair of shorts, and whatever I was already wearing. That was all I took, in addition to a couple of pens and a small notepad. No phone. No laptop. I was not taking any chances..”
"When I got to North Korea, I arrived at the capital city of Pyongyang. I was expecting a typical gray and communist-looking city. It is not that at all. The city is full of very tall apartment buildings, and all of them are painted. The skyline is made up of blues, yellows, greens, reds, pinks, oranges... everything has a color. Pyongyang is the most colorful city I have seen in the world outside of Latin America..."
"There were essentially no other cars on the road in North Korea. There were many bicycles around, and the occasional motorcycle, but for the most part, the roads in North Korea are empty except for the locals walking along them. It is quite likely that many people in the country have never actually been inside of an automobile in their lives..."
"The North Korean soldier told us that the cord for the microphone was actually lying directly across the line of the DMZ. He said that the room we were in is the only building in the entire demilitarized zone where you can be in both North and South Korea. Beautiful irony abounded as a South Korean-manufactured Samsung air conditioner sat on the north side of the building to keep the place at a cool..."
"The beautiful metro stations in North Korea are as gorgeous as an opera house..."
"The road across North Korea is rough. Incredibly rough. If you are in the mood for a bus ride where you wear your seat belt, not for safety, but because you are tired of being bounced off and out of your seat, then this is the trip for you. It felt like I was a patient in a psych ward who had to be tied down. It felt like the road had an agenda to shake the fillings out of my teeth..."
What’s Inside the Book?
Loaded with photos, Traveling Through North Korea promises to entertain and attempts to mitigate an information gap through Harris’s amusing journey. From the rainbow-hued buildings of Pyongyang to the myriad of monuments celebrating egos of the state’s former leaders, this book is full of surprises and quirky facts about the puzzling nation while it humanizes the people. For anyone who has ever been curious about what may lurk just beyond the Demilitarized Zone of the Korean Peninsula, somewhere in the backyard of both Russia and China, Harris serves up a veritable feast for the eyes punctuated with good-natured humor.
Let’s have some fun where we’re told there is none!
"Sometimes meals in North Korea require a cigarette break..."
"At one point as we were driving through North Korea, we slowly passed a three-ton truck that was stopped in the middle of the road. In the back of the truck was a load of passengers: farmers, soldiers, and well-dressed women heading somewhere. The truck had a crank start, just as engines had in North America before the 1950s. Two soldiers were taking turns cranking the handle of the truck in an attempt to get the engine started. I wanted a photo of the scene, but it was not allowed because the men cranking the truck were in uniform..."
"For dinner in North Korea, we went as a group to a restaurant. The Chinese finished their meal early and went back to the hotel with their guide, but my guide was still eating so I stayed with him. He told me that I was not allowed to walk the 200 meters back to the hotel alone as a foreigner because of the danger of the outbreak of war..."
"Back at the North Korean hotel I went to the gift shop and had a great time teaching an employee how to high-five. She had never done it before and it was really sweet to watch her try to get it down. The innocence in locals is quite a treat to come across. They may be the most innocent civilians I have ever met in my life..."
About the Author
Stephen Harris is a travel journalist whose yen for exploring places off the beaten path led him to North Korea. He had long wondered what might lie within this most mysterious and controversial of countries that mainstream media outlets attack so fiercely. However, preconceptions could never have prepared him for an experience so unexpected in the Hermit Kingdom!
"The roads are empty through the countryside when driving in North Korea, but as we got closer to the cities and towns, the roads would begin to get busy—never with cars, but with bicycles, people walking, and oxen pulling carts around..."
"I knew the nightlife would be quiet in North Korea, but I had no idea it would not even exist after 8 p.m..."
"The four-hour train journey from North Korea to China was over quickly because I was very stressed. I had been thinking about the $1.05 worth of North Korean money I managed to get my hands on through trade with one of the merchants. I wanted those currency notes as my own souvenirs of North Korea. But the idea of going to jail over $1.05 was truly a frightening concept..."
"It is funny how life works. China seemed so strange to me before because of its peculiarities that I am not used to, but after a trip to North Korea, China suddenly felt very familiar..."