A WIGAN businessman has told how he has unwittingly emerged as one of the world’s leading experts on North Korea.
Dylan Harris organises trips to the secretive country, which sparked fears over the weekend it is about to launch a military strike on neighbouring South Korea.
The 34-year-old received an email last Friday from North Korean warning him that the country is hours away from war.
However, after posting it on his Facebook site, the national media picked it up, thrusting a baffled Dylan to centre stage of one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.
He told the Wigan Evening Post: “On Friday I received an email from the KFA (Korean Friendship Association) in North Korea. They are a government affiliated organisation and they send me regular updates on the situation in North Korea.
“Most of the info they send is translated North Korea press releases and government statements.
“As soon as I first read the email I was pretty shocked. The emails always contain pretty strong rhetoric but this was on another level and began with the statement that ‘the situation is critical with the outbreak of war probably only hours away’.
“It didn’t cross my mind to send it out to the press though as I assumed they would have the same information as me. The first thing I did was to check up on the situation on the ground as I had a tour group over there at the time who were currently making their way out of the country by train. I established contact and my guide there confirmed everything was OK.
“I then posted out snippets of the email on Facebook. From then on the situation went pretty crazy. Friends of mine shared the story on their own timelines and the next thing I knew the phone was ringing constantly from media all over the world.
“It then started to get a little out of hand though and the story started to escalate into something it wasn’t. It was being claimed I’d had a personal email from Kim Jong Un!
“Then I was getting phone calls saying there were photos of me online shaking hands with Kim Jong-un...it was actually a North Korea soldier at the DMZ!”
Dylan says that the effect on his business of the North Korea’s war-mongering has been mixed, with a lot of people concerned about the possibility of war and cancelling their trips.
But he also says whenever North Korea is in the news he also has a big uptake in bookings as well.
He added: “A lot of people don’t understand the kind of tours I offer and the most regular statement I hear is ‘why would anyone want to go on holiday to North Korea?’
“But to me, travelling isn’t just about going to Spain and relaxing on a beach.
“It’s about experiencing other cultures, learning about other people and their history. It’s a cliche but travel really does broaden the mind. I believe that if everyone travelled more, we’d have a lot less tension in the world.”