North Korea

People in North Korea


Dear reader,

in North Korea you’ll find everyone: farmers, nurses, fishermen, secretaries, school kids with blue-buttons and red handkerchief uniforms, traffic police, sellers, librarians, old people and young people. North Korea has everyone like in most other countries. The only difference? Everyone looks likes they’re still in 1940’s.

Our tour, as spectacular as it was, gave us the chance to see quite a lot in fact. From the capital Pyongyang to remote countryside villages it’s outstanding how things, impressions, reactions and even reality change dramatically, from the city where everything seems so perfectly in order and sometimes even staged to the most remote village where most people have never seen a tourist before and showed us the most sincere kindness and welcome. Why do I say this? Simply because of the look in their face:

People in Nampho little girl stanito© Stanito, 2013

As we toured around on our bus, my taking photos was limited so most of my shots come from my bus windows. Not too bad I have to say, it was funny to see how most of us were so thrilled to capture every moment that everyone kept their cameras focused on the windows the whole time.

A first glance of Pyongyang right after we landed. As the bus was taking us to our hotel I thought how much this area looks like the old Macul neighborhood in Santiago

People in Pyongyang stanito1© Stanito, 2013

People in Pyongyang stanito4© Stanito, 2013

The next few days where focused entirely on the city of Pyongyang, visits to monuments, statues, museums, libraries and even the maternity hospital. People I found there looked at us with caution, indifference or very little attention. It’s not a city where locals would pile to see foreigners. Sometimes we could perceive some fear, and considering the propaganda they live with everyday, it makes sense

People in Pyongyang schoolgirls stanito© Stanito, 2013

People in Pyongyang stanito2© Stanito, 2013

On the Pyongyang subway, with wagons coming all the way from post-war Germany. Not a word from locals

People in Pyongyang subway stanito© Stanito, 2013

The Grand People’s Study House is the city library and one of the most famous buildings. Built in 1982 in honor of Kim Il-Sung 70th birthday, is today a huge study building where we saw people taking classes of art, science, IT, history. Because of the locals attitude, some of my group say it was all staged and prepared in advance before our coming, while others say “Hey, you’ve never seen people studying in a library before?”

People in Pyongyang library stanito© Stanito, 2013

People in Pyongyang library stanito2© Stanito, 2013

and my favorite study room, I bet that lessons here are unique

Area of education through Revolutionary materials stanito© Stanito, 2013

School kids standing on Kim Il Sung Square. This is as close as I could get, two grumpy men yelled something so… I kept distance

People in Pyongyang stanito 5© Stanito, 2013

People just walking in the center area

People in Pyongyang stanito 6© Stanito, 2013

And people using public computers for intranet, not internet

People in Pyongyang stanito 7© Stanito, 2013

A guy using an old cellphone model (probably a Nokia 6220), and as I said earlier 3G is very aleatory only allowed for tourists. As far as I know was recently allowed again.

People in Pyongyang stanito 8© Stanito, 2013

People in Pyongyang stanito 9© Stanito, 2013

But as soon as you step out of Pyongyang, everything is different

People in Nampho stanito 2© Stanito, 2013

People are friendlier, smilier, more intrigued towards us. It’s like curiosity overcomes any sort of idea or fear they might have.

Young guys working at a cinema stage in Kaesong City, they were staging the scenario for a Japanese style movie

People in Kaesong 13© Stanito, 2013

People in Kaesong stanito 2© Stanito, 2013

I saw the old woman below from our bus, I waved at her and she smiled and waved back to us

People in Kaesong stanito 3© Stanito, 2013

People in Kaesong stanito 4© Stanito, 2013

Completely devoted, every museum guide we found performed their job with high devotion and completely belief towards their Leaders

People in Kaesong stanito 5© Stanito, 2013

People in Kaesong stanito 6© Stanito, 2013

Technically, we were absolutely not allowed to take photos of buildings under construction and military. But somehow, even those soldiers were glad to take photos with us in the Demilitarized Zone. Plus Stanito hardly follows the rules, so…

People in Kaesong stanito 7© Stanito, 2013

People in Kaesong stanito 8© Stanito, 2013

People in Kaesong stanito 9© Stanito, 2013

People in Kaesong stanito 12© Stanito, 2013

People in Kaesong stanito© Stanito, 2013

And then Nampho, where we danced with locals on a sunny day at the beach

People in Nampho stanito 1© Stanito, 2013

People in Nampho stanito 2© Stanito, 2013

Here I was in Sariwon park, people were dancing on post war folklore music

People in Sariwon stanito 2© Stanito, 2013

Eat on the street

People in Sariwon stanito 3© Stanito, 2013

Wait for someone or something (maybe a bus or they’re just taking a break)

People in Sariwon stanito 4© Stanito, 2013

People in Sariwon stanito 5© Stanito, 2013

And a dad tells her little girl to wave at me 🙂

People in Sariwon stanito© Stanito, 2013

16 comments

    1. Hello Pummaroo, nice reading from you again 🙂
      Hard to believe, but entering North Korea was very easy. In fact, it was a lot harder to get in China than in DPRK.
      So to go to North Korea you cannot go on your own, the only thing you need to do is to join a tour company that is authorized to enter DPRK. As soon as you register and pay the tour price, you’ll fill out a DPRK Visa Application form. The company will do the rest for you, although there is always a chance that your application is refused. Since the tours start mostly from China, the issue is actually getting to China to go to DPRK, that’s the trick.

    1. Hi Elliot, thanks for your comment 🙂
      It was indeed a fascinating experience, very rich and lots of to tell. People were amazing, both the locals and my tour companions. Really. There will be more coming up 🙂

    1. Dear Aaron, it was great to go on this adventure with you as well we had such a great time 🙂 really. I saw your blog, I loved it!

    1. I’m glad you liked them, and thank you for being such a regular visitor Sarah 🙂
      Next post on North Korea will about Visa process!

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your comment.
      Amm, no idea really, before going to DPRK I checked with Emil Kaminski (https://www.facebook.com/Monkeetime) as he has been there couple of years back and he did a tour very similar to mine, which included excursion to lots of places outside of Pyongyang, all the way to the DMZ.

  1. Some great pictures there. Lots of great memories, takes me back. It really is the people that make a place special.

    1. Nathan you’re right! it is the people that make a place special 🙂 couldn’t agree more, and in this trip for me it was the locals and our group, simply the best. Hope to see you soon again, maybe in another adventure 🙂 ! I’d like to play bowling with the undercovered Australian national champions!

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