Are North Koreans angry
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The spread of COVID-19 leads to restrictions in international air and travel traffic and negative effects on public life.
There are currently warnings against unnecessary tourist trips to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
North Korea is still classified as a risk area. Reliable figures on the incidence of infection are not available.
Entry to North Korea has been strictly prohibited for foreigners since March 2020.
Air and rail traffic between North Korea and other countries (China and Russia) has been completely suspended until further notice.
Restrictions in the country
Like most other embassies of European countries, the German Embassy has been temporarily closed since March 2020. Consular support for German citizens is currently not guaranteed.
It must be assumed that the local health system does not have the facilities to diagnose and treat acute COVID-19 disease.
The pandemic-related hygiene rules should be observed for your own safety. This includes wearing mouth and nose protection, good hand hygiene and maintaining social distance.
- Make sure you comply with the AHA regulations and also follow the instructions from local authorities. Fines can be imposed for violations of the hygiene regulations.
- Note the test and quarantine requirements when entering Germany from risk areas (not transit) and contact the health department at your place of residence. The Federal Ministry of Health offers further information on compulsory testing.
- Stays in foreign countries can currently affect the possibility of entering other countries. Therefore, find out about the current regulations on entry, transit and quarantine in the respective travel countries via the travel and safety information before starting any trip.
- Please note our continuously updated information on COVID-19 / Coronavirus.
Travel to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is strongly discouraged.
Political life in North Korea is characterized by ubiquitous propaganda. The rhetoric directed against other countries, especially the USA and South Korea, has recently become much more acute. It cannot be ruled out that the difficult détente process will fail and the situation on the Korean Peninsula will deteriorate again.
North Korean propaganda describes foreign influences as harmful and corrosive. So you have to be careful of foreigners. Foreigners are viewed with suspicion by the Korean population outside of regulated encounters. Incidents often occur, especially when attempting to investigate independently. It can also happen that the persons concerned are arrested by security forces. At military checkpoints, ID checks are carried out on almost all routes into and out of larger cities.
Foreigners have been arrested several times for allegedly anti-republican acts. Several foreigners were sentenced to long imprisonment or labor camps. A large number of files can be classified as hostile to the Republic. In particular, the distribution, but also the mere carrying along of South Korean, North Korean or religious media of all kinds - including Bibles - is used by the North Korean authorities as a pretext for arrest.
German nationals have so far not been affected by prolonged imprisonment, but in their own interest they are called upon to exercise the greatest restraint. If you decide to travel to North Korea despite the difficult conditions, the following applies:
- Find out carefully before starting a trip.
- Refrain from bringing South Korean and religious media of any kind with you.
- Exercise great restraint when staying on site.
- Always follow the instructions of local security personnel.
The crime rate is low. Petty crime such as pickpocketing is particularly common at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport.
Travelers in North Korea will not come into contact with crime due to the strict isolation from the population. Hotel rooms usually do not have safes.
- Keep your money, ID, driver's license, flight tickets and other important documents with you at all times and watch out for your valuables.
- Do not leave electronic devices and storage media unattended.
Nature and climate
There are four distinct seasons: the monsoon season from June to August is hot and humid, winter from December to February is cold and dry, and spring and autumn are temperate.
In North Korea, flooding occurs more frequently during the rainy season in July and August, which can also affect tourist traffic.
Typhoons are also possible in August and September.
North Korea is in a seismically active zone, which is why earthquakes can occur.
Infrastructure / traffic
Traffic routes may be impaired due to measures related to COVID-19 containment, see Current.
Air traffic does not meet European safety standards. With the exception of two aircraft, the Tupolev 204 P-632 and P-633, Air Koryo is on the EU's list of unsafe airlines. With these aircraft, too, there have been repeated reports of security-related incidents that cast doubt on their flight safety.
Railways and bus connections are available in the country, trams and buses locally. There is a subway in Pyongyang.
North Korea is one of the hardest-to-reach countries for foreigners. Tourists are constantly accompanied by interpreters and / or inspectors. Not all regions are accessible to foreigners; Visits outside the capital are generally subject to approval. Uncontrolled contact with locals is practically impossible and the population is forbidden under threat of punishment. There is no such thing as individual tourism on a European scale. The tourist infrastructure is also very underdeveloped in the accessible areas.
North Korea has suffered from severe supply shortages for years. Especially outside Pyongyang, frequent power and water failures are to be expected, as well as unheated rooms in winter. The supply of food and other everyday goods is limited, more in the country than in the capital. Food hygiene is often poor.
- Refrain from using the Air Koryo airline.
- Carry out all trips organized exclusively with provided interpreters and control persons and approval by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Be prepared for supply bottlenecks and unheated rooms in winter.
Foreign media are not available; Locals are not allowed to access them. Internet connections are generally not available to travelers.
It is not easy to establish contact with the German embassy in North Korea. This is all the more true in the event of a natural disaster.
Driving a motor vehicle is not possible for tourist trips. International driving licenses are not accepted.
A public living out of sexual identities beyond heterosexuality is not recognizable in North Korea. The exact civil and / or criminal law regulations are not known.
Special instructions on how to behave
Respect for the prevailing personality cult is expected.
The behavior of travelers in the country can also have consequences for the Korean population. Spontaneous conversations with North Koreans can get those addressed into trouble. In case of doubt, it is therefore recommended to ask the accompanying person, who is always present, whether it is possible to contact you.
The prosecution is not bound by the rule of law. In addition to the politically motivated jurisprudence, the well-known criminal law paragraphs are also formulated in such a way that a large number of possible behaviors can be recorded among them without this having to be clear to the accused beforehand. In legal proceedings, the prosecution's request is granted almost without exception. Penalties against foreigners can be draconian, even for minor offenses.
Drug possession is strictly punished.
The use of a VPN network is prohibited.
In most cases it is not possible for foreigners to see whether a photo is in breach of regulations or not. The definition of what may not be photographed as a security-relevant area is very broad and includes at least military facilities, train stations, airports, port facilities, bridges, but also construction sites, etc. The same applies to everything that the state organs consider their own image could view detrimentally, e.g. B. also scenes that suggest a lower standard of living than in the official state propaganda. In case of doubt, it is recommended to ask the escort who is always present.
Consular support for German nationals in custody cannot be guaranteed.
Money / credit cards
The national currency is the won (KPW). All expenses made by foreigners in North Korea must be made in euros, US dollars or yuan and only in cash. Credit cards and checks are not accepted. There are no ATMs or cashless payments for foreigners. In many cases, even slightly damaged bills will be refused.
There is no way to transfer money to North Korea via Western Union or other banks, not even via the German embassy in Pyongyang. You must bring cash in the currencies mentioned above for the entire trip and all expected expenses.
Entry and customs
Entry and transit regulations may currently differ due to measures to contain COVID-19, see Current.
Entry and import regulations for German citizens can change at short notice without the Foreign Office being informed beforehand. You can only obtain legally binding information and / or information that goes beyond this information on the entry and customs regulations for importing goods directly from the representatives of your destination country.
You can find the customs regulations for Germany on the website of German customs and via the “Customs and Travel” app, or you can inquire about them by telephone.
Entry is possible for German citizens with the following documents:
- Passport: Yes
- Temporary passport: No
- Identity card: No
- Provisional identity card: No
- Children's passport: Yes
Comments / minimum remaining validity:
Travel documents must be valid for at least three months at the time of entry.
German citizens need a visa to enter North Korea, which is usually issued by the North Korean embassy in Berlin.
In exceptional cases, the visa can also be issued by another North Korean embassy, e.g. in Beijing. The processing time is generally at least four weeks. In any case, an invitation from the Korean side is required.
In the case of tourist trips, this is regulated by the travel agency. The application documents can be sent to the North Korean embassy in advance by post. In order to be able to issue a visa, a personal interview is usually necessary.
The extension of the visa is possible on site in exceptional cases, if the Korean side is interested in an extended stay.
In connection with major political events in North Korea, there are always short-term changes to visa and immigration policies.
Travels to the USA after stays in North Korea
Travel to North Korea may affect subsequent entries to the United States. For more information, see the United States Travel and Safety Guide.
There are no known special regulations for the entry of minors.
Foreign currencies must be declared upon entry.
Daily necessities can be introduced. Cameras, radios, foreign publications, cell phones, computers and other GPS-enabled devices must be declared upon entry. Cell phones can be withheld or sealed by customs officers if you do not have a North Korean mobile phone contract on site or if you do not have a North Korean SIM card. North Korean Customs carry out checks on the contents of devices brought with them, especially laptops and cameras. It happens that binoculars are confiscated.
Stricter entry controls are being carried out at the airport in Pyongyang and the other entry points. It is strictly forbidden to import media (e.g. photos, videos, printed matter with texts, cell phones and storage media, “conspiratorial” or “false” propaganda materials) from abroad or to possess or use them during your stay that offend the supreme dignity of North Korea and belittling, criticizing and belittling the system or being related to sexual acts. Immigration control includes searches of computers, mobile devices and cameras. Files that are complained of will be deleted. In some cases, entire applications have been deleted or hard drives have been reformatted.
The import of weapons, with the exception of hunting weapons, which must be declared upon entry, is strictly prohibited.
We strongly advise against importing pets.
Outbreaks of epidemics or newly emerged health risks (infections, air quality, radioactive pollution, etc.) are not always passed on by government agencies; information gaps must always be expected.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the disease COVID-19, which is triggered by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, a pandemic.
In January 2019, WHO declared delaying or skipping vaccinations as a threat to global health. In particular, the lack of vaccination against measles poses a high risk when the number of cases increases internationally.
- As part of your travel preparations, check your and your children's vaccination protection against measles and have this supplemented if necessary.
No compulsory vaccinations are required for direct entry from Germany. When entering from a yellow fever area, proof of a yellow fever vaccination must be provided.
- Make sure that you and your children have the standard vaccinations according to the vaccination calendar of the Robert Koch Institute up to date.
- Vaccinations against hepatitis A and B as well as rabies are recommended as travel vaccinations, and for long-term stays or special exposure also against typhoid, meningitis (A / CW / Y) and Japanese encephalitis (JE).
- Please note the instructions for use and help for the indication in the travel vaccination recommendations leaflet.
- The DTG offers up-to-date, detailed travel vaccination recommendations for specialist groups.
Malaria (only Malaria tertiana, P. vivax) is rare in the south of the country in summer. Due to travel restrictions in the country, these infectious diseases pose little or no risk.
HIV / AIDS
There is generally a high risk of HIV transmission through sexual contact, drug use (unclean syringes or cannulas) and blood transfusions.
- Always use condoms, especially on casual acquaintances.
Diarrheal illnesses are common travel illnesses, see information sheet on diarrheal illnesses. However, most diarrheal diseases can be avoided through appropriate food and drinking water hygiene. Therefore, to protect your health, please observe the following basic information:
- Only drink water of safe origin, never tap water. A previously opened bottle can be identified more easily by purchasing carbonated bottled water.
- If possible, use drinking water to wash dishes and brush your teeth when you are out and about.
- If bottled water is not available, use filtered, disinfected, or boiled water.
- Cook or peel food yourself.
- Make sure you keep flies away from your food.
- Wash your hands with soap as often as possible, but always before preparing and eating.
- If possible, disinfect your hands with liquid disinfectant.
Tuberculosis is still a problem in the local population, but it has decreased significantly in recent years. Due to the very limited contact with the local population, the risk of infection for foreigners is minimal.
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is inflammation of the brain caused by viruses. These are transmitted by nocturnal mosquitoes. Pigs and waterfowl in particular are infected with the virus without becoming ill themselves. Diseases in humans are rather rare, but then often have a severe course and often leave lasting damage or are fatal. There are no effective drugs against the JE viruses, see also the Japanese Encephalitis leaflet.
- To avoid Japanese encephalitis, protect yourself consistently against mosquito bites as part of exposure prophylaxis, especially during the day, and get vaccinated.
More infectious diseases
Other diseases occurring in the country are hepatitis A, B and C, tsutsugamushi fever, hantavirus infections, worm infections, typhoid, meningitis (mainly A and C) and rabies. No information is available on the incidence of the disease.
Medical care is extremely inadequate across the country. Due to the general lack of medication, bandages, medical instruments and aids, a well-stocked first-aid kit is recommended. Hospitals, even those specially designed for foreigners, are nowhere near "Western" standards. More serious illnesses must therefore be treated in neighboring countries or in Germany.
- Take out travel health and repatriation insurance for the duration of your stay abroad. The German Liaison Office for Health Insurance - Abroad provides detailed information.
- Take your individual first-aid kit with you and protect it against high temperatures when you are out and about, see the first-aid kit leaflet.
- Before you go on a trip, seek personal advice from tropical medicine advice centers, tropical doctors or travel doctors and adjust your vaccination protection, even if you have already experienced the tropics from other regions. Corresponding doctors can be found e.g. B. via the DTG.
In addition to the general disclaimer, please note:
- All information is intended for the information of medically trained. They are not a substitute for the consultation of a doctor.
- The recommendations are tailored to direct entry from Germany to a travel destination, especially for longer stays on site. For shorter trips, entries from third countries and trips to other areas of the country, deviations may apply.
- All information is always dependent on the individual circumstances of the traveler and may require medical advice.
- Despite the best possible efforts, the medical information is always only an offer of advice. They cannot cover all medical aspects, eliminate all doubts or always be completely up-to-date. You stay responsible for your healthy.
Country information about your travel destination
Here you will find the addresses of the responsible diplomatic missions and information on politics and bilateral relations with Germany.
Further information for your trip
The global threat of terrorist attacks and kidnappings remains unchanged.
Since September 2014, the terrorist organizations “Al Qaida” and “Islamic State” (IS) have been threatening various countries and their nationals with attacks. There were a number of attacks with firearms, explosives, kidnappings and hostage-taking.
Even if there are currently no specific indications of a threat to German interests abroad, it cannot be ruled out that German nationals or German institutions abroad will also become targets of acts of terrorist violence.
Places with a symbolic character come into question as possible targets. These include well-known sights, government and administrative buildings, transport infrastructure (especially airplanes, trains, ships, buses), economic and tourism centers, hotels, markets, religious meeting places and generally larger gatherings of people.
The level of terrorist threat differs from country to country. There is a particular risk of an attack in countries and regions in which attacks have already been carried out repeatedly or in which they can be carried out relatively easily due to a lack of effective security measures, or in which terrorists have the support of the local population.
More detailed information about the terrorist threat can be found in the country-specific travel and safety information. These are checked regularly and adjusted if necessary.
The risk of falling victim to an attack is still comparatively low compared to other risks that travel abroad entails, such as accidents, illnesses or ordinary crime. Nevertheless, travelers should be aware of the risk.
The Federal Foreign Office strongly recommends that all travelers behave in a safety-conscious and appropriate manner. Before and during a trip, travelers should carefully inform themselves about the conditions in their country of travel, behave appropriately, follow the local media and report suspicious incidents (e.g. unattended baggage in airports or train stations, suspicious behavior by people) to the local police or security authorities .
German citizens are advised to register in the Foreign Office's "Elefand" crisis prevention list, regardless of their country or the length of their stay abroad:
Crisis preparedness list
Please clarify with your health insurer or health insurance company whether there is adequate health insurance coverage for your trip abroad, which also covers the costs of a rescue flight to Germany.
Without sufficient insurance cover, the costs necessary on site (e.g. treatment or hospital costs, flight home) are generally to be borne by the person concerned and can quickly use up all of your savings.
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