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Rules in North Korea

Rules in North Korea – A Look at the Cultural Norms


Traveling to a new country is an exciting adventure, but it’s important to be aware of the rules and cultural norms of the destination you’re visiting. Understanding and following these guidelines not only shows respect for the local culture, but it also helps ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. In this article, we will explore the rules and cultural norms of North Korea, offering insights and tips for travelers who wish to explore this unique country.

Key Elements

Element 1: Respect for Authority

In North Korea, respect for authority is of utmost importance. The country has strict laws and regulations that must be followed without question. It is crucial to always show respect to the country’s leaders, symbols, and institutions. Any form of disrespect, whether intentional or unintentional, can have serious consequences. It is advisable to familiarize yourself with the customs and practices related to authority to avoid any misunderstandings or unintended offenses.

Element 2: Dress Code

When visiting North Korea, it is essential to adhere to the dress code. The country has conservative expectations when it comes to clothing, and it is customary to dress modestly. Avoid wearing revealing or provocative attire, and opt for more conservative clothing options. Additionally, it is important to dress appropriately when visiting religious or historical sites as a sign of respect.

Element 3: Photography Restrictions

Photography is heavily regulated in North Korea. Taking photos of military personnel, construction sites, or anything that may be considered “sensitive” is strictly prohibited. Always ask for permission before taking a photo, especially when capturing images of locals. It is advisable to familiarize yourself with the photography rules and seek guidance from your tour guides to ensure compliance.

Element 4: Internet and Communication Restrictions

Access to the internet in North Korea is limited and closely monitored. Social media platforms, messaging apps, and certain websites may be inaccessible or restricted. It is important to be cautious when using any form of communication and avoid sharing sensitive or politically sensitive information. Additionally, it is advisable to refrain from discussing politics or criticizing the regime, as doing so could lead to serious consequences.

Element 5: Cultural Etiquette

Understanding and respecting the cultural etiquette of North Korea can greatly enhance your experience as a traveler. Addressing locals with their appropriate titles and using formal language shows respect. It is customary to bring a gift when invited to someone’s home, and it is polite to receive and offer items with both hands. Additionally, showing respect for elders and authority figures is highly valued in North Korean culture.

Element 6: Peculiar Laws

North Korea has laws that may seem extreme or peculiar to outsiders. Importantly, it is crucial to refrain from any form of political activism, as the regime does not tolerate dissent. Drug use and possession are strictly prohibited and can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment. Observing these laws is essential to ensure your safety and avoid legal complications.

Tips for Traveling

  1. Research and Plan Ahead: Before traveling to North Korea, thoroughly research the country’s laws and customs. Plan your itinerary accordingly and ensure you have all necessary permits and documentation.

  2. Join a Guided Tour: Traveling to North Korea independently is not permitted. Joining a guided tour organized by an authorized agency is mandatory. Choose a reputable tour operator with experience in North Korea to ensure a safe and structured visit.

  3. Follow Instructions: During your visit, your tour guides will provide instructions and guidelines. It is crucial to follow their directions and abide by their rules at all times. Disregarding their instructions can lead to serious consequences for both you and your guides.

  4. Show Respect: Respect the country’s customs, traditions, and political system. Avoid making negative comments or engaging in political discussions.

  5. Carry Cash: Credit and debit cards are not widely accepted in North Korea. It is advisable to carry enough cash to cover your expenses throughout your visit.

  6. Be Mindful of Conversations: Be cautious when discussing sensitive topics, especially politics, as it can lead to misunderstandings or legal issues.


While this article aims to provide valuable insights into the rules and cultural norms of North Korea, it is important to note that it is for informational purposes only. Laws and regulations can change, and it is essential to seek professional advice and consult official sources, such as governmental travel advisories, to ensure accurate and up-to-date information. Always prioritize your safety and respect the local customs and laws while traveling.