No offence to our devoted guides but I think this is a question that many people who have been to the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea have asked themselves. Sometimes the reaction of people or even the very performances we have seen were so perfect that we were bewildered by them to the point we didn’t know if it was all part of an act or was true genuine talent.
Staged or genuine, the DPRK is still one of the most impressive countries I’ve ever been to. And the Mangyongdae Children Academy was another milestone of my North Korean journey.
In this particular case we didn’t think what we saw was staged at all but we did think it was all part of really hard work and training imposed on these children. Same sensation I’ve got after watching the Mass Games in Pyongyang.
The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace is a facility where children of most ages can engage in extra-curricular activities such as painting, playing chess, learning music, sports, ballet dancing and various other kinds of art.
To date it is the largest palace dedicated to children and is located in the north side of the Mangyongdae-guyok district.
Here we saw children practising a variety of artistic activities and hobbies.
This is the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace
And this is our welcoming tour little girl who will take us through the palace to see the performance in various disciplines that astonished us one after the other…
The dancing class
The music class
The calligraphy class where students learn how to write in the proper order and fashion the original characters of Hangul writing system
Speaking of writing and calligraphy, some Readers have asked me if North Korean speak any different from South Koreans. Originally, yes. The Korean Peninsula has used a Unified Korean Orthography since 1933 as defined by the Korean Language Society. The system has endured the Japanese rule of Korea even, but with the establishments of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea in 1948, the two states have taken on differing policies regarding the language. In 1954, North Korea established the rules for Korean orthography which was only a minor revision in orthography that created little difference from the one used in the South. In time, the standard language in the North and the South gradually differed more and more from each other having the North Korean version sounding and reading like a very old Korean language that hasn’t evolved through time. Keep in mind that most of the population (with the exception of the Government elite) haven’t had any window to the rest of the world, therefore their language hasn’t had a chance to evolve like in South Korea (which in time has indeed adopted new words like most languages do).
The sewing class, I remained to stare at their creations for who knows how long as these girls worked patiently on their marvellous drawings…
The chess and board games class
The ballet class
At the end of our visit the children gifted us with a remarkable (to say the least) performance. I’ve never seen children performing with such talent…
The performances were truly out of this world, absolutely dazzling.