28 April 12
Posted at 8:15
On Thursday I returned from two weeks away which included 8 days in the Democratic People's republic of Korea. I arrived on April 14th just in time for the biggest celebration in the nation's short history on the 15th for the centenary of its founder Kim Il Sung's birth.
During my time there I spent time in Pyongyang, Kaesong, Wonsan, and Hamhung. Here are some of my photographs.
A young child from the Dongmong cooperative farm near Hamhung pretends to look through binoculars at a group of western visitors. The Hamhung area has only been open to foreign visitors for approximately two years, so most locals have never seen foreigners.
A young boy and his father walk along a street in a residential area of the border city of Kaesong.
A young North Korean pretends to shoot at western visitors with a stick from near the Kumsusan palace of the Sun, where the DPRK's former leaders, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in permanent state.
A young North Korean girl looks around at the April Spring International Arts Festival in Pyongyang on April 15th.
A North Korean girl looks at western visitors during a band performance at the April Spring International Arts Festival in Pyongyang. North Korean Mig fighter jets flying over Pyongyang as part of a military parade on April 15th. Korean People's Army soldiers and sailors wave and celebrate on the back of army trucks as part of a military procession through the streets of Pyongyang.
North Koreans hold plastic flowers in preperation of a military procession through the streets of Pyongyang on April 15th in celebration of the centenary of Kim Il Sung's birth. Thousands of soldiers paraded through the streets of Pyongyang on the back of Army trucks on April 15th. North Koreans line a street in Pyongyang awaiting a military procession on April 15th A young girl sits next to a fountain on her phone clutching plastic Kimjongilias before a military procession on April 15th. North Korean sailors walking up steps to the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery on April 15th to pay their respects to veterans ofthe anti-Japanese movement. A group of North Korean women dressed in traditional Korean dresses at the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery pay their respects at the tomb of Kim Il Sung's wife, Kim Jong Suk. A view of Kim Il Sung square from a boat on the Taedong river with the 105 storey Ryugyong hotel seen in the background. Young North Korean gymnasts perform at a show at the Pyongyang School Childrens Palace. Pyongyang citizens riding on a packed bus.
A man and young boy look at a statue depicting North Korean hardship at the Mansundae Grand Monument in Pyongyang. North Koreans show their glee after riding a ride at the Kaeson Youth Park in Pyongyang.
The Pyongyang skyline seen in a 30 second exposure from the Ryanggang hotel on the outskirts of the city. The red streak in the sky is Mars. The 105 storey Ryugyang hotel which is due to partially open this year. When construction started in 1987 it was supposed to open in 1989, but due to financial constraints after the collapse of the Soviet Union it remained uncompleted until 2008 when an Egyptian company continued work on it. The building is seen with a government slogan in the foreground which reads, 'The greatest respect to leader Kim Jong-Un' who succeeded after his father (Kim Jong Il) died in December last year. Two North Koreans pose for a photograph in front of a mural of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il surrounded by 'Kimilsungias' (pink flowers named after the DPRK's founder Kim Il Sung) and 'Kimjongilias'(Red flowers named after Kim Jong-Il) at a flower exhibition in Pyongyang on April 15th.
A group of North Koreans pose for a photograph infront of the Mansudae Grand Monuments, of Kim Il Sung (left statue) and Kim Jong-Il (right statue). Kim Jong-Il's statue was unveiled on April 14th this year, but Kim Il Sung's had been there since 1972. His statues head had to be changed to make Kim Il Sung seem older compared to Kim Jong Il, because his old head was of a young Kim Il Sung. A North Korean man and woman embrace at the Mansudae Fountain Park in Pyongyang. Public displays of affection are rare in North Korea. A North Korean soldier sits alone on a bench in the Mansudae Fountain Park in Pyongyang early in the morning. A man 'taps in' to a Pyongyang metro station using an electronically chipped payment card similar to the London Underground's Oyster card system. A young boy closes the doors of a Pyongyang metro carraige. The trains are second hand from East Germany where they used to run on the East Berlin metro during the Soviet era. A group of North Korean children playing on a wall in the eastern port town of Wonsan. A group of female North Korean soldiers walking along a highway between the town of Wonsan and the city of Hamhung. A man cycles with another man and a young boy on a highway between Pyongyang and Kaesong. It is not rare to see multiple people travelling on single bicycles in North Korea, as many people cannot afford their own.
A general view of the Taedonggang fruit farm on the outskirts of Pyongyang. Three men on a fishing boat in the East Sea off the coast of Hamhung. A woman walks through the desolate Hamhung countryside carrying hay on her head. Young children from the Dongmong cooperative farm laugh, run and hide at the sight of western visitors to the farm. The Hamhung area has only been open to foreign visitors for approximately two years, so most locals have never seen foreigners.
A group of North Korean army recruits laugh at a western visitor who greeted one of them. Young North Korean gymnasts pose for a photograph in the Hamhung main square, they reacted with joy at the sight of westerners, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing their photographs. They had been training for mass gymnastics performances such as Arirang. Young North Koreans practising mass gymnastics in Hamhung main square. A young child hides his face from the photographer with his dirty hands in the main square of Hamhung, where hundreds of North Koreans were practicing for mass gymnastic shows. A woman trains young North Koreans in the main square of Hamhung. A teacher helps young nursery school students during a dance recital for western visitors to the Kim Jong Suk nursery in Pyongyang, Young children playing in a room of the Kim Jong Suk nursery in Pyongyang, under the watchful eyes of the country's former leaders Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung. A group of North Korean women dressed in traditional korean dresses take shelter in the shade provided by a coach on a warm April afternoon. A young boy pleads with an angry motorist in Kaesong after a traffic collision between a motor bike and a bicycle. A female worker carrying a shovel at the Hungnam fertilizer complex looks at a group of western visitors. A North Korean soldier guards the DMZ at the joint security area of Panmunjom, South Korean soldiers can be seen filming visitors to the demilitarized zone from the southern part. A Republic of Korea outpost seen through a North Korean spotting scope just North of the DMZ. A World Food Program vehicle drives along a road in Pyongyang. The port city of Wonsan at night. The single light on the right is a mural to Kim Il Sung which remains lit at all times. A building in Hamhung seen during their annual air raid practise, in which all but a few of the citys lights are turned off and vehicles roam the streets playing revolutionary songs.
The same building in Hamhung seen just after the air raid practise finished. Hundreds of North Korean women seen crossing a bridge over the Taedong river in Pyongyang on April 16th on their way to a celebration in honour of Kim Il Sung's centenary which was celebrated with a three day national holiday.` Fireworks being launched from the Juche tower in Pyongyang to celebrate Kim Il Sungs centenary. A huge fireworks display in Pyongyang seen from a poorly lit street in the city.
If you're interested in travelling to North Korea I recommend doing so with Young Pioneer Tours. I have been with them twice now and both times have been absolutely brilliant.