Michelle Joyce’s experience during her visits to North Korea gives an insight into life in North Korea.
Michelle Joyce had traveled to North Korea four times more since her first visit in 2013.
“Many people, especially North Korean refugees, ask me if I really think that North Korea has changed… The quality of life in Pyongyang and the local economy seem to have improved greatly, at least on the surface, and overall the city is much more modern,” she said.
“However, I cannot say the same for rural areas, since I am not able to visit there, and according to refugees who have only left those places recently, the standard of living is still quite low…. However, thanks to the informal markets (both illegal and semi-legal) it appears that there are opportunities to make a great deal of money.
“Economically and socially there has been change, but without political change, North Korea’s greatest problems (nuclear weapons, human rights in prison camps, sanctions etc.) will be left largely untouched, thereby limiting North Korea’s social and economic development also.”
Since 2013 Michelle Joyce has been engaging with North Korea, both inside the country and with refugees, in areas such as tourism, human rights, and academic research.
She is finishing her Law degree at UTS and plan to continue her research in North Korea and advocacy for human rights.