Why Anthony Bourdain Never Went To North Korea

Anthony Bourdain never took restrictions on his travel well. Bon Appétit pointed out that the reason "A Cook's Tour" ended was because the Food Network didn't want to fund his trip to Barcelona. Rather, they envisaged a show that would always remain in the United States. Similarly, in 2017, Azerbaijan banned Anthony Bourdain from ever entering the country again because he visited the contested Armenian region Nagorno-Karabakh (per Thrillist).

So, whether he would go to North Korea was inevitable. And, back in 2013, no one thought that his trip to North Korea was inevitable more than Bourdain. In a promotional interview for his new show "Parts Unknown" that is available on YouTube, Bourdain said, "I kind of have low expectations for food scenes there, but I think it's inevitable." He did add the caveat that this would depend on whether he could get in, find stories to tell, and food to eat.

Bourdain decided against the visit

Of course, "Parts Unknown" never entered North Korea. However, that was not due to Anthony Bourdain's untimely death, but the result of an active decision he made.

In 2017, TMZ flagged Bourdain down as he was once again entering an airport and asked whether he would ever film an episode in North Korea. He said no and continued, "There's nothing they're going to let you see. It's a very unpleasant government." The reporter tried to push the issue further, asking why he wouldn't sample the food. "Most of the population are starving," he replied. "Don't you think that would be in bad taste?"

But, the strangely keen reporter pushed onward, pointing out that Kim Jong-un was a foodie. Bourdain described the North Korean leader with some colorful language and said that if he were to cater a meal between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, he'd serve hemlock.