Hamline News

Alumnus Gets Glimpse Into North Korea


When Nils Weisensee ’04 tells people he’s traveled to North Korea three times, “the first reaction is often disbelief, then curiosity, then excitement,” he says.

Weisensee, who recently opened a coffee shop in Shanghai, China, with his wife, Lindsay Messenger ’07, conducts entrepreneurial training workshops in North Korea as a volunteer with the nonprofit organization Choson Exchange.

“It’s difficult not to be fascinated by the people I have met and things I’ve seen—stuff that’s usually not shown on CNN, unfortunately,” Weisensee says in an email interview.

“There’s a lot happening on the ground, and Choson Exchange aims to support those who have the ambition and talent to make a difference.”

“Some people think what I do is dangerous,” he adds. “But it’s actually very safe as long as we understand and adhere to North Korean law.”

Weisensee, who is originally from Germany, and Messenger moved to China in 2007. Weisensee is general manager of their coffee shop, Café del Volcán, and Messenger, who works at a public relations firm, also serves as marketing manager for their business.