New travel app allows you to experience North Korea without leaving your armchair

12th May 2014

A North Korea travel app has been released which “allows users to explore the world’s most secretive nation at home, work, or on the go.” Containing thousands of photos, descriptions of over 350 tourist locations, and “expert perspectives on North Korean daily life, history and culture”, the app is aimed both at those planning to physically travel to North Korea, as well as those who want to “explore… from the comfort of your own home.”

This travel app contributes to a long tradition of ‘armchair travel’ in which our thirst for knowledge of other places and cultures, our desire to explore and discover, is satiated not by personal, physical travel but through the consumption of images and words recorded by others. In the modern age, this ‘armchair exploration’ can be expanded and augmented – made interactive – allowing the armchair traveller to direct their own virtual journey.

Many may argue that such ‘virtual’ travel cannot replace the lived experience. Indeed, international travel is becoming increasingly popular, despite the many technological alternatives. But is it possible to experience and learn more through well-informed and reflective armchair travel than by actually going somewhere – especially if we travel ‘cocooned’ by a restrictive government, tour operator or even by our own mind-sets? What is it that we hope to achieve from travel and how best can we meet those aims? The ITC’s Why Travel? project examines these questions in an attempt to better understand human travel and inform better decision-making in travel and transport. See for more information.