When I worked in South Korea I had a chance to visit the De-Militarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea. It was eerie, strangely silent, in spite of thousands of troops in or near the area. The guide cautioned us not to make any sudden movements, especially sudden gestures with our arms or hands. One sensed hundreds of eyes watching every move. Armed sentries were silhouetted in watch towers.
The soldiers were all very young and quite seriously devoted to their tasks. I saw the table where the truce was signed in 1953, ending the Korean conflict. Oddly half of that room is in North Korea and the other half in South Korea.
I try to avoid an “us” and “them” mentality, but from what I learned then and since, the North Korean people are incredibly isolated from information about world culture, completely without the resources that you or I completely take for granted. The control of the media is so absolute that people believe what they are told about anything outside their country. Poverty is rampant. I was told that South Korea became discouraged about donating food to the north as most of it went to the political and military.
There was a souvenir shop at the DMZ zone. I looked at everything but didn’t buy anything.