I want to visit North Korea. I anticipate disagreement about this between myself and my parents, so naturally, I tell them. I'm a jokester son like that.
But no joke, I do want to visit North Korea. Now, it may not be at the top of my list for potential travel destinations, but it certainly has a place.
Put simply, if you offer me an all-expenses-paid trip to North Korea right now, I would go with little hesitation.
I want to visit North Korea for the same reasons I go anywhere new. I want to exist in new environments, see new landscapes, meet new people, and experience new cultures and ways of living. That's what I enjoy about traveling.
And I don't think this desire has anything to do with fetishizing a group of people who predominantly live under dire circumstances. My heart goes out to the citizens of North Korea. Still, I want to experience what North Korea has to offer—the good and the bad—just as I would anywhere else.
I understand that visiting North Korea entails operating under tight supervision and well-defined circumstances, which may be why my parents find this desire so problematic. You might say I've had a propensity for trouble with and disdain of authority.
Okay, so perhaps I haven't always colored within the lines. Perhaps my outsized confidence in talking with people in positions of "authority" came from the countless times I found myself in the principles office or talking with a police officer. These encounters helped me craft my manner of speech and debate, as I became a vigorous defender of my innocence.
Will this confidence hurt me or help me in North Korea?
Just kidding, it won't hurt me. I think I can keep my trap shut for long enough to stay on the up-and-up. Wait, is "long enough" the entire time I'm there? Huh, that actually might be more difficult than initially planned.
Anyhow, the point is, I get it. Or, at least, I think I get why my parents and others in my life would be concerned with me traveling to North Korea. The country has and continues to be a frequent target of vilification in our country, which has shaped our collective perception of it.
Most importantly, I have people in my life who love me and who care about my safety and for that I'm grateful. I'm sorry when I goad all of you with whatever bullshit is on my mind at the moment. It's because I love you that you get to see me in all of my snarky glory.
But I still want to go. I promise I'll stay quiet, I'll walk from point A to point B as directed, and I'll embrace everything that North Korea has to offer.