North Korea Wants You…To Teach Travel On Your Dime

For those of you dying to visit the swinging city of Pyongyang, North Korea, this might be your opportunity. Juche Travel Services (JTS), one of just a handful of travel agencies based in North Korea, is looking to recruit adventurous English speakers to provide training for the Hermit Kingdom’s tour guides.

JTS is offering English-speaking foreigners with either experience in tourism management or a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate a chance to spend four weeks teaching at Pyongyang Tourism College.

The company is seeking five people for to travel to North Korea for trips scheduled in May and November. The trip—and the teaching stint—will cost roughly $1,160 per person, which will cover travel expenses, accommodations and, presumably, food and entertainment in one of the poorest, most isolated and totalitarian countries in the world. JTS says the scheme is not a moneymaker, that it will donate any excess funds to the library’s tourism college.

North Korea, which routinely starves its populace and has imprisoned thousands in what are essentially gulags, has begun investing in tourism, hoping to change its image by developing Masikryong ski resort and the city of Wonsan, where an underwater hotel is being planned, into popular destinations.

“The country has made it clear it’s looking to grow its tourism sector in the coming years,” David Thompson from JTS told The Guardian. “To do so will require both international tourism expertise and foreign language skills.”

The volunteers will face the same restrictions as other foreigners entering North Korea, meaning they will be closely monitored by the secret service and will only be allowed to interact with North Koreans approved by the government. They will not be allowed to wander freely.

One of the first UK students to take part in the program said he was not allowed freedom of movement, but that he did not feel uncomfortable there. Ben Griffin said his students “were just real people,” and they had the same worries and concerns of students everywhere. He showed his students a number of movies, including The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which he said they enjoyed. Presumably, he did not show them the movie, The Interview.