I had to think long and hard about not seeing the traffic girls, believe me. I suppose I should pass the traffic baton to those going to Pyongyang this year.
When you are there they will take you pretty much anywhere within reason. If you put your camera away you have a bit more freedom. Their concept of photography is taking a photo of yourself in front of a monument or taking photos of your fellow tourists at a location - not photos of people working or living their lives. They understand the traffic girls but only at certain locations. The tour guides are getting used to some of us taking photos of everything.
Remember that the average tourist wants to say, "I have been to North Korea." This means the day trips in from Dandong will be a hit. Yes everyone wants to say that but what did you see? I have to keep going to see every city and the countryside, where the majority of Koreans live. Going to any totalitarian state for a day is not seeing the place. Even the standard tour tells you there is more out there.
I do not think it is just about the income. Like any Asian country they want to show you the best. It is not about hiding things (although they fail at that despite best efforts) but about showing what their society has achieved. They need the income desperately but they want to show the world that they are not as portrayed. There is a deep inferiority complex that needs to be overcome. This is a society you would know - if you lived in Eastern Europe in the 1970s. It is a throwback. They built what they thought the society should be and the problem is that it is coming unraveled.
I have not been checking in regularly. I will answer the query when I can. I am going for three weeks but I will be in-country 8 days. The remainder of the time I will travel the Chinese DPRK border from Tumen to Yanji then on to Dandong. I want to see the Yanbian Autonomous area - Korean China. I want to see cross border trade as a measure of North Korea. I think this is essential to understand what is going on.
This Koryo tour opens up an area that just opened in April. I need to go to Chongjin again if just to get more photos. I was there during year one of opening and it was the strictest for photography. Actually even China in their border regions have restrictions.
This tour will be out in the woods, something I love. Rural North Korea is where the action is, not Pyongyang. The villages are fascinating in their self-sufficiency and the skills of people to survive. It is old Korea, something that will be long gone some day. It is back at least 50 years in time.