A look inside the Grand People’s Study House
Nearly all the great buildings and monuments of Pyongyang were built to mark a significant event linked to the Great Leaders, usually a birthday; and Kim Il Sung was especially fortunate on his 70th to be honoured with three such gifts. This special event was marked with a grand library, a triumphal arch and a tower.
The astounding architecture of Pyongyang
The capital of the DPRK, Pyongyang, has been developed as a showpiece for the country, demonstrating to both outsiders and the North Korean people the strength and power of the regime, and making a strong statement about the country’s ambitions to be self-reliant in the face of often hostile challenges from elsewhere – those challenges being of course both political and at times physical.
Gallery: the art of the propaganda poster in North Korea
Any visitor to North Korea can’t fail to be struck by the absence of what we take for granted both at home and in most countries we visit: advertising. Only state-produced goods are available, so with no competition for customers, there is no need to advertise. But that doesn’t mean that there no eye-catching posters clamouring for our attention in the streets.
Taking a ride on the Pyongyang Metro
A highlight of any visit to North Korea’s capital is a ride on their metro. This is one of the deepest subway systems in the world (our guide said the deepest) at over 110 metres below ground level, and is designed to double as a citywide bomb shelter, with blast doors at the foot of each lengthy escalator.
Commemorating the fallen: the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang
On a hillside above Pyongyang, commanding a wonderful view of the city, stand row on row of granite blocks, each topped with a bust. The figures portrayed gaze out over the wooded slope of Mount Taesong to the rapidly changing cityscape below. These are North Korea’s fallen, martyrs in the cause of freedom from Japanese occupation.
The USS Pueblo at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum
An elderly man in naval uniform sits on a bench in the museum grounds. He is eighty years old and is employed by the museum as a guide, although his main duty is simply posing with tourists. To the visiting North Koreans this man is a national hero; while to the relatively few tourists from further afield he is simply an historical curiosity.
Gallery: dancing on the streets of Pyongyang
Only in North Korea, I thought, could you have a day of sightseeing like this! It was the country’s National Day, marking the 71st anniversary of the founding of the DPRK, and our itinerary for the day had been carefully planned to allow us to see how Pyongyangites celebrated the occasion.