We flew from Beijing to Pyongyang on a Soviet Tupolev Tu-204 on May 23 2013. Most of the passengers on our flight were North Koreans government officials.

The burger served on Air Koryo was not particularly edible. It was probably the worst airline food I have ever eaten. Pyongyang Sunan International Airport was equally disappointing - small and almost empty with no passengers or shops.

Since the 1960s North Korea has had a track record of nuclear bellicosity and then backing off. Its lack of follow through has led the world to take its threats with an increasing grain of salt. Kim’s talk of nuclear war is nothing but a confidence trick designed to keep the masses in check.

You can’t exactly go on priceline.com to look for hotel deals. All visitors to the hermit kingdom can only stay at Yanggakdo hotel. Its highlights include running hot water and two bowling alleys. The carpet is probably unchanged since the hotel opened in 1987. There are lots of mystery floors in which lift doors open to complete darkness.  My neighbour was probably an arms dealer.

Like New York City’s Roosevelt Island, the 47 floored Yanggakdo is located on Yanggak island in the middle of the Taedong River. It is isolated from the centre of Pyongyang which provides a natural boundary for those attempting to see the city. Tourists are prohibited from wandering in public areas without a guide.

The unobstructed view of the city from my hotel room was actually quite spectacular. Skyscrapers like in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and a sports stadium filled the backdrop.