If you've ever wondered what wonders exist behind North Korea's borders, a new online guide seeks to pull back the country's "iron curtain" for users and possibly inspire tourism.
The NorthKoreaTravel app, launched for iOS and Android by British company Uniquely.Travel, is being promoted as "the most comprehensive guide to North Korea ever written" -- with myriad recommendations for areas "accessible to foreigners."
This language is important to note, as "for unknown reasons" some hotels in the east and northeast will not accommodate American citizens. In fact, travelers from the U.S. may only enter the country via Air Koryo or Air China, as train travel is not permitted.
So what might you want to see, should you choose to book a flight?
In addition to restaurant and lodging recommendations, the NorthKoreaTravel app has entire section devoted to factories.
From the Nampo Glass Factory that makes modern apartment windows to a fertilizer facility where Kim Il Sung was famously quoted as having said "Fertilizer is rice, and rice is communism," industrial production sites are among the country's best known attractions.
Other destinations include the Pakyon Falls with nearby rock faces and national slogan carvings, a "Broken Bridge" bombed by the U.S. Air Force in 1951 but never rebuilt and the Concrete Wall, an "anti-tank barrier built by the South Koreans in the 1970s," where tourists are given binoculars for viewing UN and South Korea army outposts in the area.
Most of the information written on the app was gleaned from Koryo Tours, one of a handful of companies that the North Korean government allows to coordinate excursions for foreigners. But the site is transparent about the moral dilemma presented when considering a vacation to North Korea.
"Many believe it to be unethical to go to North Korea as a tourist," wrote Dr. Andrei Lankov, Professor at Kookmin University, Seoul. "It is argued that the money spent by visiting Westerners on their own short and overpriced tours will go stright into the pockets of the North Korean regime, which will then use it to maintain its control over its downtrodden people."