Things you should know before you immigrate to North Korea

Moving to North Korea: Things you should know before you immigrate to North Korea

Moving to North Korea might not be the most common option when looking for a new location. However, many people all around the world are fascinated by this secretive country, known as the Hermit Kingdom. Like with many things, you always want what you can’t get and that is the reason people might consider relocating to North Korea. However, with one of the tightest visa policies in the world getting into the country is already hard enough by itself, let alone finding employment, accommodation and new friends. Despite all the drawbacks that are connected with North-Korea, we have tried to get you an idea of what a move to the country, ruled by the Kim dynasty could look like.

International Removals to North Korea with Eurosender

Moving to North Korea from the USA is probably harder than from any other country, as the two nations have had a tumultuous relationship for a long time. That doesn’t mean that you can easily start a new life in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea when you are from another country. As it is so hard to get the paperwork done, only a few people managed to start a life in North Korea. Among them is James Joseph Dresnok, an American defector who defected after the Korean war. He went on to become an actor in the many propaganda films that were made in Pyongyang and also worked an English teacher in the capital. Most other foreign nationals in North Korea, consist of diplomats, expats from China and repatriating North Koreans from Japan.

Let’s shine a light at the basic fact about North Korea before we continue exploring the country that has long captured people’s fantasy.


CapitalPyongyang, with 3.5 million inhabitants also the largest city in North Korea.
TimezoneUTC +9
CurrencyKorean People's won (₩) (KPW)
PopulationNorth Korea has an estimated population of approximately 24 million inhabitants.
How do you call someone from North Korea?North-Korean
Official languageKorean
International dialing code+850
DrivingOn the right side
TippingNot compulsory but it will be greatly appreciated.
Unusual factThere are only 15 haircuts that are approved by the government of North Korea.

Packing your items properly will save you additional costs and heartache.Just like with any other shipment, international removals to North Korea you will have to prepare everything in advance. When you are relocating from the USA to North Korea, keep the following things in mind.

Living in North Korea

With only 5.000 to 6.000 Western guests a year, there are not so many people who can tell you first-hand about life in North-Korea. Here are some of the things that differ from most other countries around the globe.

  • The birthday of Kim II-Sung (1912) is the start of their calendar. So, while the rest of the world will be in the year 2020, in North-Korea it will only be the year 108.
  • Breaking the law may not only have severe consequences for yourself but also for your family members. Up to three generations of your family can be punished for your deeds.
  • With over 2 million soldiers, the North-Korean army is the largest in the world.
  • There is no freedom of the press in North-Korea and there are only 3 state-run tv channels. However, many people watch foreign movies and series on illegally bought DVDs.
  • There is no country in the world that is more eco-friendly when it comes to faeces than North-Korea. Instead of collecting all of if in a sewage system, the waste is collected and used as fertilizer. An unfortunate side-effect of this that there are many diseases and infections spread around.

Visa Regulations for North Korea

You can only apply for a visa at your local Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). These are not present in every country, so when there isn’t one in your home country you will have to try your luck in one of the neighboring countries. Some other things that you should be aware of:

  • Your passport has to be valid for the duration of the trip.
  • There are several travel organizations that provide tours in North Korea. They have experience in obtaining the necessary paperwork and will get the job done cheaper and faster than you can.
  • Citizens of South Korea cannot get a visa. It may also be more complicated for visitors from the USA and Malaysia.
  • Journalists are only allowed by rare exception, usually only on a state-organized tour.

Healthcare in North Korea

Not much is known about the condition of North-Korean health care. However, North Korea provides a universal healthcare system for all its citizens which is free of charge. Most hospitals and clinics were built in the ’60s and ’70s of the previous century and they suffer from underfunding and may lack basic supplies as electricity, running water and medical equipment. However, due to the low salaries that are paid to medical personnel, there is sufficient staff to cover all the patients. Some other facts about the health conditions of North Koreans.

  • Sugar was only introduced at the beginning of the 21st century and therefore few people have dental problems in North-Korea.
  • Smoking is a frequent cause of death as almost 55% of the North-Korean population smokes 15 or more cigarettes a day.
  • Drinking water in large parts of the country is contaminated which can also lead to various diseases.
  • Malnutrition has been a big problem since the horrific famines in the 1990s. Large parts of the population suffer from chronic food shortages.

School and education

Just like with healthcare, education is state-funded and free of charge for all citizens of North Korea. With a self-proclaimed literacy rate of 100%, education has always played an important role in (North-)Korean society, dating back all the way to the 15th century. The school system looks in the table below.

Elementary school (People’s school)6-9
Secondary school10-15

Besides the regular schooling, there is also the so-called “social education”. This involves afterschool activities that keep children focused on being loyal citizens of North Korea.

After graduating from school, students can study at higher education facilities like colleges and universities, with about 15% of the population having a degree from one of these institutions.

The job market in North Korea

With an employment rate of about 75%, many North-Koreans struggle to make ends meet. The economy is organised by the state and your role in that depends on your background and connections. In recent years there have been some trials for foreign investment and this might be a way to start working in North-Korea. Some other professions that can make you end up in Pyongyang are:

  • A diplomat working at a foreign embassy in the capital.
  • A sports coach of a football team.
  • A representative of an NGO.

Property information

Foreigners can’t buy houses or any other kind of property in North Korea. When you are staying in North Korea you will be put up in housing provided by the authorities. For North-Koreans themselves, housing depends on their social status, productivity and connections.

Cost of moving to North Korea

When you are one of the selected few to be relocated to North Korea, you might start thinking about stuff such as: How much is shipping from the USA to North Korea, or What is the cheapest way to move furniture to North Korea? As few people have experience in this, the best way is to let professionals do their work. We can help you calculate the cost of moving house to North Korea. Usually, we recommend our clients to send their items by Standard delivery, Freight transport (delivery on pallets) or by Dedicated Van Delivery.

However, with the complicated nature of a move to North Korea, in this case, we strongly recommend contacting our team of logistics experts to provide you with an individual offer, that matches all the requirements that your shipment needs. This way you will experience the lowest average moving costs to North Korea.

Cost of living in North Korea

Due to the low wages, the use of forced labour, free education and healthcare, the cost of living is low in North Korea. Foreigners working and living in North Korea usually live in gated communities where they have access to western products, often at inflated prices. Water and electricity are, when available, also free of charge.

Driving in North Korea

There are no car rental companies in Pyongyang or any other North-Korean city, nor is it possible to bring your own vehicle. So far there haven’t been any westerners who have been able to travel by car without the company of a government minder.
Owning a car in North Korea is a status symbol and only for the selected few.


Other destinations?

Disclaimer: The materials provided in this article were collected from other credible resources to be used for general information purposes only. Given that the legislative basis of the country and its economic development have a changing nature, the information provided in the article could be subject to change. Whilst we endeavour to keep the information up-to-date and correct, Eurosender will not be liable for any inappropriate, incomplete, or inaccurate information. Certain links will lead to websites which are not under control of Eurosender. Thus, Eurosender accepts no liability in respect of materials, products or services being not under control of Eurosender.