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North Korea: A Nice Place to Visit?

03/22/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

North Korea announced recently that it will allow more American tourists to travel to the isolated nation. But lifting restrictions alone may not be enough to woo visitors. If North Korea is serious about attracting Americans, they need a cohesive marketing strategy. That's why I've prepared the following memo:

TO: Kim Jong-Il, Supreme Ruler of North Korea and presumed President, North Korean Tourist Board and all other boards and their subsidiaries

FROM: Dan Pashman, Concerned American

DATE: January 20, 2010

RE: Getting more buck for your bang



Thank you for the chance to share my thoughts on how to bring more Americans to North Korea. Let's start off by looking at some of your country's best-known attractions and identifying ways to market them.

First there are the nuclear weapons facilities. Those could be a big draw. I envision a great ad campaign targeting the UN weapons inspectors demographic, and Tom Clancy. You could run a nuclear test every day at noon, like the parades at Disney World!

Then again, I gather you're pretty keen on keeping those facilities private, so maybe this isn't a good place to start. And the same probably goes for the secret military camp where you were allegedly born, as well as your supposed massive collection of porn, which I'm guessing is also not open to the public.

Hmm, this is harder than I expected. Let's see, the last Americans I remember traveling to North Korea were reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who crossed the border from China and were jailed for nearly five months. So ... free lodging! That's a great selling point right there, especially in a down economy. Now we're going to need to set up a website for these accommodations, because my initial search on Hotels.com reveals no listing for "North Korean Gulag." But this is a start.

Now, when those Americans came home after that five month detention, they had lost some weight. You see where I'm going with this? Americans spend tens of billions of dollars a year on diets, and your country needs to get on that gravy train. Think of North Korea like one of those high-end spas where they help you lose weight by serving you nothing but seaweed and juice, except you're even more effective, because you serve your guests even less food. Call it the Communist Cleanse!

Add to that the intensive exercise regimen inherent in life at a forced labor camp, and our flabby American midsections will melt away. Can your television executives say, The Biggest Loser: Pyongyang?

Caribbean Tourist Boards are sweating as we speak. But how to close the deal?

Well as I recall, those jailed Americans were finally released when Bill Clinton showed up. So there's North Korean tourism selling point number three: Meet Bill Clinton! And you don't just get to meet him, you get to fly back to the U.S. with him, on the government's dime. That's a free, chartered, international flight with a former president. Most Americans I know would jump at that opportunity.

With the strategies I've laid out, I'm confident you can turn North Korea into a hotbed of tourism, or, failing that, a slightly less reclusive totalitarian regime. Either way, please keep an eye out for my invoice.

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