Photo journey – Travelling to North Korea
North Korea had been on our bucket list for a long time. But we had pretty mixed feelings about visiting the country, since we knew the only way to get there is going with a tour, which is both expensive and pretty strict in terms of what you are allowed to see. We also guessed that most of the tour fees evidentially ends up in Kim’s pocket.
Despite the cost and our own morality, we let the curiosity beat us; the thought of visiting the most secluded country in the world was just too difficult to resist.
We went with a budget tour company, which came to about 500 euros per person for a three-day tour. The plan was to go during the 70th anniversary of the Worker’s party of DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name). We started our tour in the Chinese border town, Dandong, where we took a 7 hour train ride through the countryside of North Korea before arriving in the capital, Pyongyang.
Our quick visit was both strange and enlightening, proving and disproving many of the rumors we had heard and read about before our visit.
Below you can follow us through our journey and read some interesting facts along the way!
Boat ride on Yalu River, Dandong, separating China from North Korea
We didn’t encounter any cars in the countryside, only bicycles
Traditional farming techniques
Two curious boys watching our train pass by
A soldier riding his bicycle
We didn’t see commercial advertisement of any kind, but propagandous murals of the leaders were easily spotted.
It is forbidden to photograph North Korean soldiers
A young women supervises the train station
Locals crossing a river in one of the villages
North Korean propaganda is plentiful
Finally in Pyongyang: Mansudae Fountain Park in front of the Grand Peoples Study House
Two gigantic bronze statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. This monument is dedicated to the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle
Woman wearing Hoejang Jogori, the traditional Korean dress
Soldiers pay respects at the Mansudae Grand Monument during the Worker’s Party 70th anniversary
This young boy was dressed up like a soldier
These soldiers show their respect at Kim Il Sung’s birthplace
A well dressed family in front of the Grand Monument at Mansu Hill
Father and son celebrating
Street Style: Pyongyang Edition
More communistic murals
Fact: 80% of the population has the first name “Kim” …both men and women
Relaxed soldiers at the train station
Young woman riding the metro in Pyongyang
The Monument to Party Founding; hammer, sickle and brush representing the hands of a worker, peasant and an intellectual
The world’s deepest metro system also works as a bomb shelter
Locals celebrate fanatically as tanks pass by during the military parade
Locals reading the newspaper at the metro station
Fact: North Korea bases its calendar on Kim Il-Sung’s date of birth: 15 April 1912. So today it’s year 103!
Locals waiting for the military parade to start
We noticed how most of the locals wear simple clothes, without any logos
North Korea has faced a dire food crisis over the past two decades, the ongoing impact of which is still visible on many citizens.
Young woman working at the metro station in Pyongyang
Fact: North Korea has its own time zone: Pyongyang Standard Time
Military airplanes celebrate the anniversary of the workers party
Locals watch the fireworks during the celebration
There aren’t many traffic lights in the capital
Fact: North Korea has the 5th largest army in the world with over 1 million active troops
The sun sets down over empty streets in the big city
Locals admire the fireworks shooting in the sky
It was a cold day in the city, we felt bad for the traffic lady
Military men wave to celebrating locals
The Rungnado 1st of May Stadium – Currently the largest stadium in the world with a capacity of 150.000
Another metro stop in the city
Mangyongdae Funfair amuzement park
The military parade we witnessed in the evening. Soldiers and big tanks drove past us next to screaming locals
It really looks like going back in time, doesn’t it?
Our short visit to Pyongyang was over and it was time to hop back on the train to China
Fact: There are nearly 200.000 prisoners in work camps in North Korea, but Dennis Rodman loves it here
Once again we rode for 7 hours through the countryside, with our faces stuck to the windows watching the “local” life in the villages
Fact: More than half of the 24 million population lives in extreme poverty
At one of the train stops
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