“An American business professor, Patrick Chovanec, visits fields, casinos, and kindergartens in North Korea— and explains how the Hermit Kingdom is and is not like Mordor…. On special guided trips, arranged for tourists and permitted by Pyongyang, Patrick Chovanec, a professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in Beijing, has twice visited North Korea. On each trip, he and his fellow travelers were accompanied by official guides, only permitted in certain areas, and asked to delete “objectionable” photos from their digital cameras. Yet the visits afforded Chovanec a rare glimpse inside the Hermit Kingdom.
FP recently caught up with Chovanec to share his experiences to take us, vicariously, inside Kim Il Sung’s mausoleum, a North Korean classroom, and a gilded casino that has seen better days. What we learned: North Korea is indeed a real place, where ordinary people must make due in extraordinary circumstances.”