I came across an article in the BBC today that is relevant to something that came up two days ago in class; that is, organized tourist trips to North Korea. The article highlights much of what Professor Larsen told us in class: that the trips are expensive, difficult to arrange, and true to what we all might expect from both communist regimes and capitalist tourist ventures, strictly regimented. My favorite line speaks about various memorials that are, essentially, required reading for group travel in North Korea: "[Pyongyang's] many statues and monuments . . . are a must-see. In fact they literally must be seen, as the compulsory guides who accompany all foreign tourists are certain to include them in the itinerary."
Of course, it seems that that which may deter some (energy shortages, ghost streets) is exactly what draws others. I'm interested to see just how far North Korea is willing to allow foreign tourists to take pictures of their countryside and eat in their restaurants -- if tourism will provide another source of economic profit for the country, or if openness will ultimately lead to its (dis)integration. The article, incidentally, is a few years old.
Also, you have to love the BBC for parenthetically citing the Korean War as resulting in a stalemate.