Famine stricken North Korea offers tourists the chance to plant rice on 'interesting labour tours'

Will Worley
Tourists pictured on the North Korea tourism website planting rice in the famine stricken country: DPR Korea Tour

Famine stricken North Korea is offering tourists the chance to plant rice and carry out agricultural work on “interesting labour tours”.

Tensions between the West and the secretive communist state have been increasing in recent months, but the country is nonetheless advertising trips where people can experience working in the fields.

Photos show tourists apparently planting rice and examining paddy fields in the countryside.

Around 100,000 tourists are believed to visit North Korea each year.

According to the North Korean tourism website, visitors on the tours “are immersed in different [aspects of] labour life”.

Activities include “manual rice-planting, weeding and fruit picking at the co-op farms or orchards in the country”.

It added: “Through the tours they can get an understanding of the agricultural policy and farming culture of the country and experience the diligent, cheerful profiles of the local people’s labour activities.”

The Foreign Office has issued advice against travelling to the country, saying “the security situation in North Korea can change with little notice”.

The country has a history of food shortages and a summer drought is feared to have left millions of people hungry.

An extended famine between 1994 and 1998, known domestically as the Arduous March, killed up to 3.5 million people.

But organised tours to the country have existed for many years, despite its status as an impoverished totalitarian state.

The majority of tourists to North Korea are Chinese. Many take boat tours into the country from the border city of Dandong, apparently to look at the poverty of their neighbours.

"Everyone says North Korea is very poor, so I want to go there and take a look myself at how poor they actually are," a Chinese tourist named as Zhu told Australian broadcaster, ABC.

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