First American To Ever Study In North Korea Tells All About His “Haunting” Time In The Country

North Korea has been in the news a lot lately with POTUS canceling his meeting with Kim Jong Un and then it was back on again. Honestly, it’s all too much for me and tomorrow we will probably here some other weird news about that drama.

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I won’t bog your brain down with that nonsense though, let’s focus on this news about an American that is telling all of us about the real North Korea, not the fake one that Kim Jong Un wants us to believe.


36-year-old Travis Jeppesen is a journalist that had been to North Korea a few times. But when the chance of enrolling at a North Korean university came up, he said yes without thinking twice.

Jeppesen enrolled at Kim Hyong Jik University of Education and elected to learn Korean. He got the opportunity to live in the country for an entire month and who wouldn’t want to do that?! As a journalist I would love to do that, but as a normal sane person that is scared of getting “lost” by the North Koreans I’d be a bit suspicious.


North Koreans have been trained and brainwashed to hate Americans, but he said this to the New York Post, which was one interesting thing that I wasn’t expecting.

“For one thing, they [knew I was] a tourist, and they don’t want to alienate tourists. That’s hard currency.

Secondly, I think it represents the extent to which North Koreans don’t necessarily buy into all the propaganda sent to them by the regime.

North Koreans told me on more than one occasion, ‘we don’t dislike Americans. We just dislike your government.’ I think they can tell the difference.”


Jeppesen had to be followed everywhere by government minders which are required for all tourists and people visiting the country. They reported everything he did to the government.

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To top that, every house in North Korea has an official government spy called a inminbanjang. They are usually an elderly woman that keeps an eye on the residents for the government.

Jeppesen said:

“Her job is to ‘heighten revolutionary vigilance,’ as one propaganda poster has it.

[She keeps] a watchful eye over the comings and goings of her assigned unit, down to the smallest detail.

A good inminbanjang knows exactly how many spoons and chopsticks are in each family’s kitchen and can spill that information on cue if the need should arise.”


Even when Jeppesen was alone, he said he felt a bit on edge. It seems like you are never truly alone in this country, which makes sense. From what we have heard about Kim Jong Un’s regime, it seems that he doesn’t trust anyone and probably never will.