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When it comes to bucket list vacations, there are a few dream destinations that you’ll hear repeated from one person to the next: taking an African safari, exploring the ancient wonders of Machu Picchu and soaking up the sun from an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, among others. Having the time of your life in North Korea? Well, not so much.
But like many things in the infamously oppressive country, the North Korean government is working hard to create a picture-perfect image of the nation — and may be using popular vloggers to help.
While the rest of the world is paying attention to stories like the recent defection of Thae Yong Ho (North Korea’s deputy ambassador in London), or Kim Jong-un’s insistence that dog meat is the next great superfood, vlogger Louis Cole — the professional nomad behind the Fun For Louis YouTube channel, which boasts nearly 1.9 million subscribers — seems to be having the time of his life in the DPRK.
Over the past two weeks, the U.K.-based traveler has been filling his social media feeds with videos, images and musings of his recent trip to North Korea, where he discovered that in addition to great surfing, the country has some amazing water parks.
Earlier this week, Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson reported on Cole’s travels, calling it an “indicator of a broader, more banal evil shaping YouTube and the influencer economy.”
Many others agreed. Cole’s series of glowing posts about the many wonderful things he saw and did on his trip were met — unsurprisingly — with fierce backlash from commenters and the media, who seemed perplexed that he would gloss over the country’s standing as one of the world’s worst human rights violators, and instead report on the dance-off he had with some locals at the beach — yes, that really happened.
In response to all the negative publicity he received after the trip, Cole responded with a video, in which he refuted accusations of creating propaganda. “Although that makes great headlines, there’s no truth in that whatsoever,” he said. “I’m not being paid by the North Korean government… and I do not agree with the North Korean ideologies. But I do care for and love the people there.”
Cole went on to explain that when he travels, he’s always looking “for the beautiful, positive things.” Which apparently includes North Korea’s amazing water parks. You can judge for yourself by watching his bizarre (yet fascinating!) videos series, here.
H/T: Vanity Fair
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