What I Learned From Louis Cole's North Korea Trip

33 year-old YouTuber Louis Cole has been heavily criticised for his coverage of life in North Korea. Here’s my take on it.

If you’re not up to date in recent YouTube news, Cole recently embarked on a trip to the DPRK and went off the usual tourism routes (but still on a tour with a guide) to the coast. He did this as part of a group called Surf North Korea which aims to bring a bit of peace and fun between the DPRK and people from all nationalities in the group, to build bonds and show them surfing, something they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

Due to the nature of Cole’s trip and that he was filming it for his YouTube channel, people were quick to jump to the conclusion (and still are) that he’s going to be used as propaganda for the North Koreans and that it was a government-sponsored trip, however he has strenuously denied this and I believe him even if no-one else does.

His videos started in Pyongyang (the DPRK’s capital) where he described the country as “fascinating” and that it was “so surreal to be here”, which anyone visiting Pyongyang would say, but as soon as people watched these words coming out of his mouth, they were quick to make rumours about the true intention of his visit. 

Don’t think I’m being naïve about this - I’ve seen every documentary there ever was about the Kim regime and North Korea, as I’m fascinated by it myself. So when I heard Cole was going out there, I had to watch his videos. He only went to the DPRK to try his hand at diplomacy and he’s been shot down for ignoring the human rights issues that North Korea have, but people still choose to ignore this on a daily basis and do nothing about it. So why should Cole make a negative series of videos about something a) he knows nothing about and b) something that he can’t really do much about.

I understand why people are annoyed, but he was only there to bring some happiness and laughter to the people of the DPRK. Another point to make is that people go on North Korean tours all the time and are only shown the positive parts which they may be allowed to film, but they choose to keep their copies at home and Cole puts his on the Internet - what’s the difference? Are they heartless people too, who should be accused of promoting propaganda? World government issues are not his job, remember that.

Throughout his ten day trip Cole visited lots of places including former president Kim Il Sung’s birthplace and the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, where he was told information that was “a lot different to what I was taught” and added “I’m going to do a lot of research when I get back” to see what adds up, so he’s questioning the validity of what he’s been told. Something he wouldn’t do if it was a government-sponsored or propaganda trip.

Making a music video in the country featuring their people like they did helps to unify the countries featured and show that they can have good relations, like the picture of the South and North Korean olympians that went viral. The start of the video features the words “in the midst of war, we decided to make history instead.” good on them. 

The group of many nationalities who went out there have now built a relationship with these North Koreans through surfing and being good people to them, so that when North Korea becomes more of a free country, they’ll be able to travel to visit them. 

Check out Louis’ vlogs of his trip to see what I’m talking about. Also follow my blog to see my words about lifestyle and music things. 

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