In light of the fanfare about the two two American journalists recently being released, it's not that Pyongyang doesn't welcome journalists to the People's Paradise of North Korea. Each year, scores of journalists are invited to cover everything from glitzy festivals to picturesque mountain resorts and showcase factories.
[However] everyone must obey the rules, which constantly change to make spontaneous exchanges with ordinary citizens very difficult, says one foreign journalist who visited Pyongyang recently. "This time," says the reporter, "I could take my laptop, but I could not walk alone in
Cell phones and GPS's are a no-no, trips to the countryside without permission are almost always forbidden, with the occasional but rare exception. Most journalists are shepherded by a guide wherever they go, which is usually to view monuments of Kim Jong il and his deceased dad. They are told to shy away from asking citizens political questions.
While residents of Pyongyang are less afraid to interact with foreigners than, say, a decade ago, they won't speak to journalists without permission.