Holiday advice please
My wife and children would like to go to South East Asia on a nice, relaxing holiday and there’s lots of countries to choose. So we chucked a dart at a map – it landed on Korea. Bit of a result eh?
We then tossed a coin – maybe South (heads), maybe North (tails). We got tails. BINGO! I’m from the North of England and people are very friendly.
I can’t tell you how excited the family are about this trip! We know nothing about Korea. I’ve done a very quick search on Google and it seems both North and South Korea are identical in many ways but the haircuts vary.
Could you let us know what to watch out for, fun places to go and where to get ice cream etc. please.
Well, sorry about the delay there MinorTwerp but the intermission has been in a good cause as we’ve actually just been to South and North Korea just to make sure you were making the right choice with your dart-related decision making.
So before you travel we thought you might like to compare and contrast, if you will, both halves of the Korean peninsula. As a result our new information is the most definitely correct and up to date guide to North and South Korea in the absolute world right now. We’ve also come up with a neat little way of working out which country is best by taking a look at some key areas:
Let’s look at the key facts about both South & North Korea first:
President: Moon Jae In
Gross Domestic Product: $1,530,751,000,000 (a lot of zero’s).
Major Industries: Electronic stuff, cars and Gangnam style dancing.
Supreme Leader: Kim Jong-Un
Gross Domestic Product: $129.75
Major Industries: Military hats, some cows , nuclear weapons.
Key Facts Winner: South Korea is a modern economic wonder and despite the lack of fancy hats wins this category hands down.
SK 1 NK 0
Well, them’s the facts, but what about something a little more subjective like…
South Korea: Kimchi (pickled cabbage), Samgyeopsak (pork belly), cold bibimbap, dep fried mandu, bulgogi, Hangover stew and spicy stir fried octopus are just a few of the delicious treats on offer in the South.
North Korea, however, appears to be continually on the brink of drought, famine and starvation so food is at a premium for the locals let alone a bunch of Western capitalist dotards out on the town looking for a fry up and a large shish.
South Korea wins the food category
SK 2 NK 0
South Korea has an excellent if not comprehensive rail network and travel is cheap when compared to Western Europe. Seoul has 9 major subway lines and a convenient and populous bus service. Use it, it’s good.
South Korea has a stack of airports too, Incheon International in Seoul had 57 million passengers pass through it a couple of years back. That’s a load.
North Korea has 2 train lines:
Pyongyang North to Pyongyang South stopping at Pyongyang Central.
Pyongyang East to Pyongyang West also stopping at Pyongyang Central.
Both lines run on alternate Thursdays and take 3 days from end to end mainly because they are pulled by a combination of oxen and small North Korean women called Jang, Jina and Jenny.
North Korea also has a reliable if slow rickshaw service around the rest of the country. It’s slow because they are pulled by a combination of oxen and small North Korean women called Jang, Jina and Jenny. The rickshaw service is suspended on alternate Thursdays and for 3 days after due to the scheduled running of the Pyongyang Express.
North Korea has one airport which is used only by the Supreme Leader and his mates. Most other travellers parachute into the North Korean countryside, heavily armed and under cover of darkness from a stealth plane.
Travel Verdict: Although we were a fan of the rickshaw (and Jenny in particular) South Korea has to win this category as sometimes you need to make that train rather than be 2 days late.
SK 3 NK 0
South Korea has a stack of unspoilt beaches and islands (it’s got 33,000 of those) and you’re sure to have a relaxing time at one of them like this one:
Some can get a bit crowded though so try to go a little further out than Seoul
North Korea has got a lot of beaches too and around 1550 miles of coastline. Unfortunately most of it is strewn with landmines, barbed wire and machine gun posts. Avoid.
Beach Verdict: South Korea
SK 4 NK 0
Find your inner peace at The Garden of Morning Calm in Gapyeong!
Find your inner Korean at the Street of Korean culture in Insa-Dong!
Find your inner stomach and eat yourself stupid in Myeong-Dong!
Find your inner idiot and lose the contents of your inner stomach at the crazy Lotte World theme park!
And much more besides!
North Korea has 3 military museums of note.
♥ The Museum of the Khaki uniforms and Medals
♥ The Museum of Big Hats
♥ The Museum of Close Formation Marching
Verdict: This one is real close so we’re going to call it a draw because despite the South’s myriad and often stunningly beautiful distractions we like the North’s more “focussed” approach to its attractions (and we really like the hats).
SK 5 NK 1
The North Korean Taedonggang is a golden orange lager which is considered to be one the better pints in the Far East. We don’t think that the colour is due to nuclear waste.
Most N Koreans tend to drink Soju, a clear spirit which appears to be made from anything that they have close to hand such as rice, barley, potatoes, scotch egg surround and twigs.
The South version of Soju is not quite as potent as they tend to leave out the twigs and scotch egg surround.
In addition, beer in the South is of the more refined style and as a result is more palatable to Western tastes. They also make a lot of international brand stuff such as Fosters and Carlsberg and based on this we’re giving the verdict on alcohol North Korea as long as we don’t go blind or contract damaging liver complaints!
SK 5 NK 2
Bar, Clubs and discotheques abound in South Korea. You can party all year round in the South and still avoid having to partake in the ol’ Gangnam nonsense. Quite frankly, everyone is having it large.
North Korea has a curfew most evenings so the nightlife is mainly centred around trying to get to a Soju bar without getting arrested or cut down by machine gun fire. Fortunately, your chances of survival are increased by the frequent “power-saving cuts” in the North so normally the snipers can’t actually see you. However, also due to the “power-saving cuts” most bars are very dark and you can’t find them because it is very dark outside. And when you get there they don’t have jukeboxes. If you are lucky though you may encounter a bar with a solo Bipa or Haegum player. North Korean groups are very rare as some of the instruments are very cumbersome and it’s difficult to get to a venue without the machine gun thing coming into play.
Most North Korean music is quite sombre.
Verdict: Going to have to go for the South on this as the curfew thing is just a bloody pain in the arse.
SK 6 NK 2
Some might say that everyone in the country having to have the same haircut and hair product as the Supreme Leader may be a little undemocratic and stifles freedom of expression. Piffle. We say it keeps barbers in a job and creates a stable hair product market.
Verdict: North Korea
SK 6 NK 3
Who’d thought you could get so many medals on a single jacket? They must be very well made.
Verdict: North Korea
SK 6 NK 4
Come on, be real. No contest. Just look at the feckin’ size of these beauties!
Verdict: North Korea
SK 6 NK 5
Close Formation Marching
Watch this and you’ll know the winner of this one:
Verdict: North Korea
SK 6 NK 6
Well, Minor Twit despite the best (and exhaustive) efforts of the intertwit.com team we can’t actually come up with a definitive answer! It’s a flippin’ draw!
Both countries have a lot to offer we would say but if you decide that the risk of political arrest, constant machine gun fire, nuclear waste and long range missile attacks by the USA are outweighed by your love of undercut hairstyles, khaki clothes and close formation marching in jackboots then just perhaps the North is for you!
Either way, let us know which side of the 38th parallel you decide on and send us some pictures when you get there (although try not to be near a military installation or uniform factory when you take your snaps!).
Please note – North Korea is absolutely not suitable for children under the age of 12. Or Springer Spaniels (definitely not Springer-spaniels).