Lauder alumnus Davis Smith’s reflections from his travels to North Korea


Davis Smith (Lauder Class of 2011, Spanish) traveled to North Korea as a Lauder student to conduct interviews with foreign entrepreneurs on their experiences living and starting businesses in North Korea for his Global Knowledge Lab paper titled Entrepreneurs Born or Made, and Their Impact on the Developing World. He also pointed out that, like any Lauder alum, all travel is also “for fun”.  These are some of his recollections from the trip:

 “North Korea is arguably the most isolated country earth, with as few as 100 Americans visiting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) each year. In 2010, I was able to visit North Korea with my fellow Lauder classmate, Eduardo Samuel, and we got a glimpse of what life is like in this secretive nation. Our trip was perfectly controlled with government handlers accompanying us every minute and restricting our visit to predetermined roads, buildings, sites and museums. Anti-American propaganda was rampant, blaring from loud speakers and covering billboards. We were required to stay on the 43rd floor of an otherwise empty hotel which is located on an island in Pyongyang’s Taedong River, and were compelled to bow to statues of Kim Il Sung under constant threat of imprisonment. Our photography was strictly monitored and at no time were we allowed to interact with civilians or to walk freely. The restrictive and regulated experience was illustrative of the highly controlled lives of millions of North Koreans under the brutal power of the current North Korean leadership.”



About Davis: Davis Smith is the Co-CEO and founder of, Brazil’s leading e-commerce company focused on the baby care space. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University (BA in International Studies), the University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Institute (MA in International Studies) and Wharton School (MBA). Davis lives with his wife and two daughters in Sao Paulo, Brazil.