This is probably one of the most mysterious places in the world! The boarders of North Korea have essentially been closed off from the rest of the world since the Korean War divided the country in the 1950’s.
This extremely strict and secretive country has been in the news recently, mainly due to the US President Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un exchanging some heated blows until their history making meeting in Singapore where they became best buddies.
It was extremely interesting and fascinating to learn the North Korean tale of events which has lead it into its current state, but I will not bore you with that now, so feel free to drop us a message or comment to discuss further.
Kim Il-sung Square is a large open area where the North Koreans parade with tanks and missiles. The square was full of school children who were rehearsing for a big parade for later that month was was awesome too see and experience. The Grand Peoples Study House provides a great perspective of the square, but the Juche Tower offers the best view of the city. The tip of the torch has a terrace that overlooks the whole city and offers an incredible view - you can even have a beer up there! To the west side of the river is a city full of grand moments and to the east it is full of bright coloured buildings.
STATUES AND MOMEMENTS
Kim Il-sung Square is a large open area where the North Koreans parade with tanks and missiles. The square was full of school children who were rehearsing for a big parade for later that month. The Grand Peoples Study House, offers one great perspective of the square but the Juche Tower offers the best view of the city. The torch overlooks the whole city and offers an incredible view - you can even enjoy it with a beer in hand. The west side full of the city is moments and east full of bright coloured building.
Through the country we saw a number of patriotic posters and murals depicting unity, war and freedom. We even bought a couple of Propaganda souvenirs as well but unfortunately (or fortunately) since US/North Korean Relations have improved, all of the anti-American propaganda has been removed.
One thing I learned while on the ground in North Korea, was that there are security checks at all entrance/exits to Pyongyang and that all people need permits to pass each way. This once again shows how tightly controlled the country is, but once you leave the city of Pyongyang, there are picturesque and untouched countryside with an abundance of rice fields. Just hanging out the window and watching the world go by offers a truly unique prospective.
The contrast between the huge monuments, wide streets and colourful buildings of Pyongyang to the lush and green mountainous landscape of the rest of country is quit astounding, they are two completely different worlds. We were lucky enough to spend a night in Sinuiju and go for a hike past some cascades to a waterfalls which was a great change of scenery and makes me really want to explore more of this place!
DID WE DRINK?
Beers on the train on the way in, beers on the train on the way out, beers at the top of the Juche Tower, beers in the hotel lobby, beers at the Karaoke and beers in the bedrooms, add a couple of cheeky Sojus in there and the short answer would be, YES - We had a few! This trip was not what I expected and totally caught me off guard but I enjoyed every minute!
As we were not allowed to leave the hotel once we got back there, there was a bar which was pretty much open the whole time - most nights we met up in the bar and had a few beverages, usually finishing up in someones room between 2-5am, purely because we were all in such good company.
WHAT DID WE EAT?
Most of our meals we structured around a 'Lazy Susan' which was full of a variety of dished, the most common meats were fish and duck dishes, we also ate a lot of tofu which was fantastic, kimchi was served with most meals and plenty of dough desserts. One night we did have a Korean BBQ with duck while watching a North Korean Girl Band smash out some tunes.
Pyongyang Cold Noodles is the most popular and renowned local dish which was served after most meals. One thing that we did find it weird that in Korea, was that they will bring out the rice and noodles after you have eaten everything on the table as opposed to bringing it out the rice and noodles with a meal. The theory behind it is because you are meant to fill up on the nutrients, then the rice and noodles will just fill you up if you have more room at the end.
On one night, I ended up sitting at a random table of North Korean Tours Guides, along with beers and soju, they offered me some of the meal which was Crab soup (second photo from the left) and it was absolutely delicious!
Although all of the meals were fabulous, in terms of comparison to its long lost brother, South Korea - You just can't really! South Korea had some of the best quality food that I have ever eaten! You can find more information about South Korean Food for here!
WAS IT FUN?
Yes! We saw a part of the world that barely anyone else gets to see along with meeting some truly amazing people along the way! Some of the fun things we did was;
- Amusement Park (Dodgems & Rides, etc)
- Cascade/Waterfall Hike
No internet, Restrictions and Photography
Yep, there is no such thing as the internet in North Korea! They have their own internal system called the intranet, but this in not available to tourists. We had a number of Licenced North Korean Tour Guides who followed us around and told to when we could and could not take photos, along with where we can and cannot walk - but overall it was fine, didn't faze any of us in the slightest! At the border crossing you pull out all your electronics (phones/computers/memory/etc) and the guards will note them down on a sheet of paper along with searching for any unwanted photos or GPS tracking. They check all bags, along with books and newspaper that you bring into the country.
The public transport system in North Korea consists of a Metro in Pyongyang which is made up of two lines that intercross, buses around the city and the overland train which connects Pyongyang to the rest of the world through China. As for cars - we barely saw any, the big wide streets of Pyongyang were empty! This is because of two main reasons, the first being that no one can afford one and the second because if they could, all of the embargo that strangle the country make petrol even more ridiculously expensive than the west! Outside the capital, it seems that nearly every person in the country owned a bike!
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