Even after the US embargo
forbidding it's own citizens from travelling to North Korea, there are currently three travel agencies that offer entry to North Korea: Koryo Group, Juche Tours and Young Pioneer Tours. Booking and visa procedures are simple. Entry is either by daily plane from Beijing, or two planes a week from Vladivostok, or by daily train from China (Dandong).
We flew on Air Koryo's Tupolev aircraft from Beijing (1h15), and had the opportunity to read Kim Jong Un's New Year's Address (with the famous "big red button" and with his wish for re-unification) in the Pyöngyang Times.
Air Koryo is the only airline that received only one star by Skytrax. For six years in a row. What does that say about Skytrax? They have zero credibility ... forget them!
Seated next to us on the plane was North Korea's national football coach Jorn Andersen from Norway with his German wife who live in Pyongyang together.
Hot Chicks in Cold Korea
Cold Noodle, the National Dish
The government of North Korea operates ca. 150 restaurants of the Pyongyang and the Okryu brands - with North Korean staff - in several foreign countries, including in South Korea. Contrary to Western propaganda, there are 65.000 North Koreans working as expats for monumental building projects in foreign countries such as Cambodia, Qatar, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, etc. through a company called Mansudae Overseas Projects.
BTW: Our young guides were well informed about history and world events. One of them had studied in Poland (!) in the 2000s. Her father was a businessman (!) in North Korea and became an artist after retirement.
Pyöngyang, a surprisingly modern capital
The Ryugyong or "Rocket Launch Hotel" was built in 1987 and remained the world's biggest hotel (at 330m and 105 floors) for many years, however it still couldn't be opened, because of the downturn in tourism plan figures (after the fall of Soviet Communism).
This skyscraper provides luxury housing for scientists and engineers.
Many high-rise apartment buildings in Pyöngyang.
Cars too, including some Mercedes.
And taxis of course.
A cruise ship for parties and weddings on the Taedong River.
Definitely the most relaxed capital city in the world.
Under the Juche (national autarky) philosophy, the population of North Korea grew from 10.029.715 inhabitants in 1955 to 25.223.526 in 2016, contradicting Western propaganda of severe economic problems or even hunger catastrophes.
The supermarkets in the capital are well-stocked (not only in the hotels).
DHL delivers just like everywhere else (Foto: easternvision)
There is a special internet and mobile phone network for foreigners, separate from the local "intranet". Built by Egyptian-Swiss Sami Sawiris and his company Orascom.
Here is what the Huffington Post author F. Megaloudi wrote in 2014: (source)
I lived in Pyongyang for almost two years, from June 2012 to March 2014. I arrived in the country together with my four year old son without knowing what to expect. Before I went to North Korea, I read numerous analysis and watched endless documentaries on the country that left me with the impression that I was about to enter a world of brainwashed "robots". But what I experienced during those two years in DPRK, had nothing to do with the standard stereotypes. ...
In downtown Pyongyang, department stores were filled with goods from all over the world: Swiss chocolates, packets of Doritos, Coca-Cola and Italian wine. Clothes from the Spanish Zara stores, Chanel makeup kits and perfumes, watches and jewelry stock the shelves. Chinese middlemen, who serve as brokers between North Korean trading firms and China-based companies, secure a continuous flow of goods and equipment into the country.
Getting a haircut, rocket style
It is not forbidden to ask for the great leader's haircut.
A good sense of humour exists among North Koreans.
Surfing in the DPRK: Music Video
At The Koryo, the best hotel in Pyöngyang
Kaesong, the former capital and oldest (and only undestroyed) city
Our guesthouse in Kaseong, the Tanamsan Hotel. Currently unheated. Because of the US embargo against oil & gas, not only civilians freeze terribly in the cold winter (-20 °C), but also tourists. Hmm, I wonder why North Korea don't master the civilian use of nuclear energy ...
The better-known Folk Hotel in Kaesong was even closed completely. Cold War.
(Note: one of the many, many solar energy panels in North Korea at the top left)
DMZ: the Demilitarized Zone at Panmunjom
I had been to the blue UN barracks on the Panmunyom borderline some 15 years before, from the Southern side. It was actually more friendly and informative to visit from the Northern side than from the Southern side. The Southerners do not allow smiling, laughing, hand waving, jeans, sneakers, or free walking (we had to goose step instead !). A special badge is compulsory in the South, and one must sign not to flee to the North. (*)
List of Western refugees to North Korea (Wikipedia) via the DMZ and the largely unknown British documentary about them: "Crossing the line".
Refugee Joseph T. White from Missouri denounced the United States' "corruptness, criminality, immorality, weakness, and hedonism," affirming he had defected to demonstrate how "unjustifiable it is for the U.S. to send troops to South Korea" (Wikipedia).
South Korea bombards the North with continuous propaganda talk through a powerful loudspeaker system that reaches up to 15 kilometers into the country.
There is an Orwellian camera and microphone battery pointing at the North.
The 38° parallel was decided to divide Korea at the Yalta Conference (February 1945), in the same way in which the division of Germany was decided at the same conference between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.
A map of the DMZ with the Armistice Signing Hall (on the North Korean side !) in the center.
Handshake with the friendly North Korean officer.
This would have been unthinkable with the fierce-looking South Korean UN/US border guards (during my visit in the same DMZ building, from the South, 15 years ago).
The Armistice Signing Hall
The US started the Korean War in 1950 to establish a strategic military presence near China & Russia (and to grease their Military Industrial Complex). This letter shows the US asking Korea for peace in 1953. First time ever that they were officially (half-) defeated.
The (Western made !) Concrete Wall
Few people know that the West (US & South Korea) built a Concrete Wall all along the 38° parallel, visible only from the North, but they still deny its existence. Even fewer people know that the German Wall was also provoked by the West (through psy-officer Edward Tenenbaum's introduction of the D-Mark, in CIA-Operation Bird Dog).
Mr. US-President, tear down this wall !
Stop the divide-and-rule !
Stop the occupation of South Korea !
Stop boycott-starving and -freezing North Koreans !
Even Wikipedia admits the existence of the Korean Wall.
The captured USS Pueblo spy ship and other US spy failures (after ! the armistice with North Korea)
At the time, in 1968, the USS Pueblo pretended to be a fish trawler ...
... but after surrendering, the proof could not be hidden.
Holy Shit !
High level apologies.
Diplomatic exchange notes.
The captain admitting his guilt.
The whole espionage team of 83 staff (minus one down) was allowed to travel back to the US within less than a year.
The US used biological (anthrax) and chemical weapons (napalm) and they dropped more than one 500-kg-bomb (pictured here) per inhabitant of North Korea, that is more than 10 mio bombs !!! Every inch of land in the North was destroyed. 2.5 Million or almost one quarter of the North Korean population was killed by the US. That was even heavier US bombardment against civilians than the US against Germany, Japan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, etc.
Of course many poor American draft soldiers died too (foto), but not US civilians.
Plenty of captured US war material at the unique Victorious War Museum in Pyöngyang.
How North Korea views the West:
(starts at 01:25)
Hollywood, TV, Press, PR, Fashion, Star Cult, Dumbing Down & the "Manufacturing of Consent":
Brainwashing through Propaganda in the WEST is a lot worse than in North Korea.
95% of Westerners don't have a clue about this. Go figure.
What was Virginia-based Otto Warmbier doing on the 5th floor, the hidden personnel floor, of the Yanggakdo Hotel? And then getting the same jail sentence as the previous US spies ...
(Foto: Daily Mail. Source: ABC News)
Ever wondered what CIA- and Google-executive Eric Schmidt was doing 5 times in North Korea?
Or Carter, Albright and Clinton? Bringing US spies back in private jets - in exchange for what ?
(Source: Truthfeed, YouTube, Twitter)
Posters from the other side
Too much propaganda ?
Then go and check it out for yourself !
Wishing the Korean people that they are re-united soon, and that the occupation of South Korea ends !