Send Your Kids to North Korea For What???

a group of young girls in traditional dress holding signs
image from Mashable

After keeping Lucas home with a babysitter for around 2.5 years, he started camp this summer. It’s been a little over 3 weeks of camp and he seems to love it so far.

Lucas’ camp is less than a five-minute ride from home. As a kid I wanted to go to sleepaway camp but didn’t get a chance to. Maybe when Lucas gets to be a little older Kim and I should consider sending him to sleepaway camp in North Korea!

Yes, you read that correctly.

According to Mashable, Songdowon International Children’s Camp, has been in operation for over 30 years and “was originally intended mainly to deepen relations with friendly countries in the Communist or non-aligned world. But officials say they are willing to accept youth from anywhere — even the United States.”

Camp just reopened with over 300 children and teens coming from Russia, China, Vietnam, Ireland and Tanzania. It goes for 8 days and seems to be a pretty fair price at $270 which also includes a tour of Pyongyang.

So would I send Lucas to North Korea for camp? I think that I would consider it in the future.

Here is my plan: Since I’ve been dying to visit North Korea, Kim and I can visit the country while Lucas spends 8 days in camp. Then when camp is over we can meet up and go to China for a visit.

This sounds like a fantastic plan to me although I’m not so sure that Kim would agree!

Would you consider sending your kid to North Korea for camp?

Find out more from Mashable here.

8 thoughts on “Send Your Kids to North Korea For What???

  1. cj- I’d love to hear more about your visits to the DMZ. We have no plans to visit N.Korea, although I would like to…

    Linda- I respect your opinion on the topic. I don’t believe that I justified any “bad behavior” nor have I been involved in an arguement. I brought up a point related to visiting NK. Have I visited there- no. Would I like to- yes. Will I ever get to- that’s to be decided in the future.

    1. I have visited the DMZ twice, once when I was a college student (25 years ago) and once in 2006 (both tours were virtually identical – nothing had changed in 25 years!) – both on private group tours. I generally do not like to go on group tours, but they are an excellent way to see South Korea – good hotels, great food, comfortable transporation, and you do not have to worry about the language barrier; you also learn so much more about the Korean Culture than you would doing a trip on your own (I have also been there several times on my own). The guides have to be licensed/approved. They take you on a bus and give you a history lesson on the DMZ and drive past a fake village on the North side that the North Koreans put up to make it seem like families live well on that side of the border. But everyone knows that no one has ever lived there. They also tell you all the things you cannot do or it can be seen as hostile by the North Koreans (who have guns and are in range to shoot you), such as raising your hands, waving, smiling, staring, or anything else besides walking and standing with your hands at your sides. You will see and feel the hostility there. There is a room where negotiations take place which is half on the South Korean side and half on the North Korean side. Guards stand on both sides of the building, with half their bodies covered by the building, in case something happens. I was sick after both visits, because it was so stressful for me to be a part of that. However, I think everyone should visit and see and feel the tension that exists- most people do not understand the situation there. At least you will be protected by the South Korean and American soldiers. I would also suggest you read books/articles by people who have escaped North Korea – everything you see on a government allowed tour there is a facade. The atrocities that go on in that country are unreal and not fathomable to people who grew up in a free country. I too would like to visit North Korea, but only when it’s people are free or when my visit will help the people, not the government of North Korea.

  2. There is no other country on earth like NK. It is the worst of the worst. Read up on the gulags and three generations of imprisionment. That’s just a starting point.
    And justifying bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior is one of the lowest forms of argument but is sometimes one’s only resort when arguing from such a weak position. Like my mom would say, “Would you jump off a bridge if everyone else was doing it”.
    I believe in promoting responsible tourism.

  3. Linda- There are many countries that people visit that do not treat their people well yet tourists still go. I would like to visit N.Korea to see it in person although I know it will not be an authentic experience. Would I really send my kiddie there, no- I was kidding around.

    cj- I have read a lot about the kind of things you’ve mentioned but have also heard good things about the organized visits. (Good in a bizarre way of course.) While I would like to visit, I was joking about potentially sending my son there for camp.

    theSHARK- Thanks for the info! What did you think of your visit? Worth it?

    1. Thank goodness you were joking about sending your kid there – I was completely alarmed for a moment there. I have been to the DMZ twice and it was a scary experience – being told not to wave hello to the North Korean side or to smile because that would be seen as hostile and having to curb my natural impulse to be friendly. Americans have been detained there for no good reason, or ones made up by the government. I would never support tours by the North Korean Government, which are fake and not a real look into the lives of North Koreans there. Yes, there are other places in the world which do not treat their people well but North Korea brings this idea into a totally different realm. You will be risking your life visiting that country so please be aware of that.

  4. Having been to North Korea on an organized tour (the only way you can go) I advise against bringing your kid on your trip to NK. Kids are going to be kids, but while we are forgiving and understanding in the Western world, NK’s complete communism will give no leeway to a kid’s “misbehavior”. And by misbehavior, I mean all those rules about bowing to Great Leader, taking photos only with the full body of the Great Leader, no photos of anything that looks bad in NK, no talking to people on the streets, no talking crap about the government or anything in NK. This behavior will be punished in NK’s own ways and you will have no control over ANYTHING. Sounds a little risky to me when the rules are completely bizarre to us and the rights we take for granted are completely taken away while we are there. I think its great to go visit NK, as an adult, it is really eye-opening and adults have the self control to bite their tongue and follow the rules to avoid getting shot. Kids… probably wont appreciate this trip as much as adults… Although I did see groups of Russian teenagers attending Arirang. Still, does not sound like a lot of a fun for a kid to be shown “fake” amusement parks and children forced to perform on stage.

  5. Are you serious? North Korea is a very dangerous place to be -especially for foreigners, and even more so for Americans. There are kidnappings, torture, work camps, and detainment for even the slightest offense (taking photos where they are not sanctioned, etc.). No access to cell phones or internet. You are told where to go and can stay only in sanctioned tourist hotels and are watched by a trained guide the whole time you are there. I am a Korean American with distant relatives in North Korea, and even I can’t imagine wanting to put myself in that situation. I don’t understand why many do not understand the dangers. Not sure if you are joking or not, but if not, please consider the real dangers before putting your family at risk.

  6. I absolutely would not! I refuse to personally support a government responsible for the atrocities that we know are rampant in N Korea. I also refuse to put my child in a danger, yes danger. Anything can happen at any time there. I just don’t understand people that would support KJU by their tourism. It frankly shocks me that people do this.

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