“I never thought the people here were so welcoming, so warm and so humble.  This is not what I was told to believe.  This is turning out to be a great tour and a wonderful eye-opening experience.  Is there any way we can come back here and find out more about this country and its culture ?”

Very few people have had the opportunity to visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, but in November 2011 a Rotary delegation undertook a two-day trip to this relatively unknown country.  This pioneering delegation was treated to a number of cultural and historical excursions around the capital city, Pyongyang, including a visit to the Arch of Triumph and the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.  We visited an orphanage as well as a secondary school, whose students treated their guests to a wonderful musical performance.

It was clear during the visit that our presence offered a unique chance not only to have a cultural exchange with our hosts and with the people we met throughout our stay, but also to show our hosts that many people ‘on the outside’ take an interest in the culture and the people of the DPRK.  Bonds were made.

Our short sneak preview into the society and the culture quickly led to a deeper interest, and since then a few more Rotarians have ventured into North Korea, at their own leisure and out of cultural and natural interest.  Meanwhile, further opportunities to really get a better insight into this fascinating country have availed themselves.

by Ronny

Bio :
Ronny Mintjens is a linguist, an international educator, a football coach and a relentless traveler.  To date he has visited over 85 countries, and he is in constant pursuit of new horizons, new discoveries and new understandings.  He has a particular interest in opening up destinations where few have been before, and he dares to speak on behalf of those whose voices are not usually heard.  He believes that education is the greatest catalyst for international understanding, progress and change.  His wish is to help create a bit more peace and cultural tolerance in the world.  

Ronny has been visiting the DPRK regularly since 2007, and revels in the opportunity to bring this fascinating country to the attention of a global audience.  He speaks a myriad of languages, but chose to use visual imagery as the lingua that best shows the essence of North Korea in his recent publication, “A Journey through North Korea”.  He can often be found offering audiovisual presentations to Rotary Clubs around the city, where he shares his experiences from North Korea as well as from the fifteen years he spent in African football.  

For more photos, please refer to the below link.