North Korea, notorious for restricting internet access and content to its citizens, has permitted some YouTube stars to visit the country and record their experiences during their tour. Popular British YouTube vlogger Louis Cole is among the few who volunteered to travel to the reclusive nation and showcase the country's scenic beauty.
Cole, who has nearly two million subscribers, has already posted several videos on his YouTube page – all of which follow a similar format of focusing on tourist-centric experiences. "I'm trying to focus on positive things in the country and combat the purely negative image we see in the media," Cole said in a note in his videos.
Another vlogger Jacob Laukaitis, who also visited the country to document his experience, describing his week-long stay thus: "You can never be sure whether things were staged or not in North Korea because you are only shown what they want you to see. You can't choose where or when you will be going to specific places, they simply tell you to hop on a bus and ask you to get off at one point or another.
"That is why I didn't want to offer my opinion about whether things were staged or not, whether they were good or not, or honest or not. My goal was to show you what my day to day life looked like when I was there and let you make up your own mind and judge for yourself," he added.
The clips posted by Cole show him enjoying various activities, including visiting a water park and having a dance-off with North Korean soldiers, Forbes reported. However, the fun-and-games scenarios depicted appear to be in stark contrast to the plight of the citizens, most of whom, according to Human Rights Watch report do not have access to non-state controlled media.
One such incident, highlighting the isolation of its citizens from the rest of the world, is clearly visible in one of Cole's recently uploaded videos. The video features a North Korean singer known as Miss Kim, who when encouraged to mimic Justin Bieber, responded: "I don't know, who is it?"
According to Human Rights Watch, North Korea is "among the world's most repressive countries. All basic freedoms have been severely restricted under the Kim family's political dynasty. A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry found that abuses in North Korea were without parallel in the contemporary world. They include extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence. Fear of collective punishment is used to silence dissent. There is no independent media, functioning civil society, or religious freedom".