Travis Jeppesen, author of “See You Again in Pyongyang: A Journey into Kim Jong Un’s North Korea,” is the first American to complete a university program in North Korea.
His biggest challenge of living in North Korea for a month was never being alone.
Foreigners traveling to North Korea are assigned guides who stay by their side the entire duration of their stay.
Jeppesen describes never being able to let your guard down as “exhausting.” While those born in North Korea are used to it, having to self-censor can be mentally challenging for an outsider.
The following is an adapted excerpt from “See You Again in Pyongyang: A Journey into Kim Jong Un’s North Korea” by Travis Jeppesen.
I’m never alone, and it’s starting to drive me crazy. It couldn’t have occurred to me, the moment I so eagerly signed up to come on this trip, that the biggest challenge of spending a month in North Korea might in fact be a psychological one. My earlier sojourns had all lasted one week or less—a quick in-and-out back to the polluted chaos of Beijing’s familiar streets. Now, it seems I underestimated the duress of spending an uninterrupted month in the strangeness of this otherworld. As a writer, I am accustomed to spending a great deal of time alone; that’s normal for me. It’s what makes me feel comfortable. I’m not anti-social—I enjoy being around people, people I like, at least—but it has to be balanced by an equal or greater amount of solitude, or else I find myself approaching a discomforting edge. Being around people constantly, it’s exhausting. People you hardly know. People you only have a limited means of knowing. You are never able to let your guard down and relax under such circumstances— you are constantly having …read more
Source:: Business Insider