How a North Korean woman made us realize, that working with the SDGs is not an option, it is a requirement
Above Borders travel to rather unusual destinations including North Korea and Turkmenistan. Our mission is to create life time experiences for all travelers and local people who cross our way.
On our travels to North Korea, Turkmenistan or anywhere else in the world, we always want to interact with the local community. We want to meet university students, war heroes, professional acrobats, farmers and I could easily continue to explain about all the many different types of people we meet – the point is, that people from all around the world and their different cultures are the motivational drivers for us to run a travel company.
Every single person has a story to tell. These stories are exactly why we want to travel to different, unusual and isolated destinations – because these are the stories which are never being told or heard.
ONE STORY – Ms KANG
On my very first tour to North Korea, I was talking to a North Korean woman and I remember the conversation as if it was yesterday.
Like most people, I had the perception that North Korea would be all about brainwashed people walking in military parades and about nuclear weapons. I also expected that every topic of conversation would be about their supreme leader. As you probably have already guessed, I did learn that my (and everyone else’s) initial perception was very far from my experiences. Therefore, back to the woman whom I talked to.
It was the very last evening of my first tour, and my mind was already full of experiences and new impressions. It had been some intense days in one of the worlds most isolated countries. Luckily, the itinerary’s last happening was visiting the local beer bar. That is really something a young Danish student can relate to. Also, as previous experiences have shown, there is almost nothing that can connect people as sharing a beer. This was also the case in North Korea.
The woman whom I spoke to, was slightly older than me. Her name was Ms Kang. She was married and had a 5-year-old son. Ms Kang started asking me about my future and what dreams I had. She explained I was still so young. I could still see so much more of the world. I still had the possibility to make an impact, not only for me but also for the people around me.
Ms Kang then continued by talking about her own childhood. How she used to be a great swimmer, and how she, at a very young age, dreamed of becoming a professional. She even talked about how she once crossed the big river Taedonggang, which runs through the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang. Ms Kang explained, that at some point she realized that swimming would not be her career path. Instead, she started focusing on her academic studies, especially those involving numbers. She loved calculating, solve sudoku puzzles and all kinds of logical challenges. Therefore, she wanted to be an accountant. She studied hard for this every day. During her studies, her career did, however, take a different path. Ms Kang ended up being a tour guide. When asking her about why she explained that it was at some point being decided. I never really found out by whom it was decided though. Now, Ms Kang has another dream. She hopes that her son one day will be such a great swimmer so that they can cross the Taedonggang River together.
After this in-depth personal story, which was so far from what I would have expected to hear in North Korea, I realized that I and our future company did not only have the possibility to make an impact, as Ms Kang had explained – We have the responsibility to do so.
Dreams and hopes for the future are an essential part of happiness and a greater world, especially when they are achieved. But that is also where hard work plays a tremendous role.
That is why we work every day to understand and learn about the world. That is why we continuously improve our efforts so that we can also help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. That is why we believe that communication and openness always beat isolation in the fight to promote peace and justice. That is why we create relations and understanding between people even in the most isolated countries. That is why I ordered two more beers, one for myself and one for Ms Kang.
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