life through the lens
On my fourth, fifth and sixth days in North Korea I had the chance to walk around Pyongyang on my own. Compared to my 2009 visit it felt very liberating and exciting. Freedom! Well, sort of.. February 2011.
The new version of the North Korean Won notes were introduced in January 2010.
Walking over the Okryu Bridge on my way to Moran Hill - Pyongyang
The Ryugyong Hotel is pretty much visible from everywhere in Pyongyang
The Tower of the Juche Idea and, to the right a few kms further down the river, the Yanggakdo Hotel - Pyongyang
The Tower of the Juche Idea - Pyongyang
On the west side of the Okryu Bridge is this propaganda poster, presumably advocating the strengthening of the military - Pyongyang
There's plenty of locals on the streets, though in 3 days I only saw one foreigner putting their feet to work - Pyongyang
Kim Il Sung says hello - Pyongyang
A row of posters lie on the opposite side of the steps leading to the Mansudae Grand Monument - Pyongyang
A gun-toting woman. If anyone can translate any of these it will be much appreciated! Pyongyang
Walk underneath this billboard to the grounds of Moran Hill - Pyongyang
Moran Hill is a picturesque park which must look great in the summer - Pyongyang
Moran Hill is dotted with pavilions, ponds and trees - Pyongyang
On warmer weekend days there's often many locals at Moran Hill, in much more relaxed mode - Pyongyang L
Walking through Moran Hill - Pyongyang
Peer through the trees to see the Arch of Triumph - Pyongyang
Catch views of the Kim Il Sung stadium and the TV Tower from the top of Moran Hill - Pyongyang
The Pyongyang TV Tower - Pyongyang
Perched atop the Kim Il Sung stadium is a picture of the man himself - Pyongyang
Sweepers stop for a chat on Moran Hill - Pyongyang
You can also catch a glimpse of Rungna Island, Okryu Bridge and the Tower of Juche Idea from Moran Hill - Pyongyang
Liberation Tower - on Moran Hill - commemorates the Soviet troops who helped defeat the Japanese during WWII - Pyongyang
Koreans take bales of tree branches down the steps below the Liberation Tower - Pyongyang
A different angle on the Mansudae Grand Monument, from Moran Hill - Pyongyang
The Mansudae Grand Monument is a statue of Kim Il Sung, built in his honour (or on his orders) for his 60th birthday - Pyongyang
Also clearly visible from Moran Hill is the top of the towering Ryugyong Hotel and, to the right, the Chollima Statue - Pyongyang
Make your way up to the Mansudae Grand Monument - Pyongyang
The bronze statue is about 20metres tall - Pyongyang
The statue was originally covered in gold leaf, but North Korea's bankrollers China ordered it be removed - Pyongyang
Soldiers line the Mansudae Grand Monument - Pyongyang
Paying their respects to Kim Il Sung - Pyongyang
The faint 'flame' of the Tower of Juche Idea is visible (just) - Pyongyang
The Chollima Statue is a legendary winged horse that could cover 400kms a day - Pyongyang
A self-shot taken at the base of the Chollima Statue - Pyongyang
All's fair in war and war - Pyongyang
One of three propaganda posters at the base of the Chollima Statue - Pyongyang
Translations welcome - Pyongyang
An empty trolleybus on Okryu Street - Pyongyang
Hustle and bustle in the streets surrounding Kim Il Sung Square - Pyongyang
The Foreign Language Bookshop near Kim Il Sung Square has plenty of books, DVDs, badges and other souvenirs - Pyongyang
One of the highlights of my 2011 visit was the chance to go to a local market, this one being Tongil Market. Photos are definitely frowned upon inside, possibly because it proves the existence of private enterprise and hence the shortcomings of a socialist regime allegedly providing for all - Pyongyang
Inside was very organised, with the market divided by produce sold, for example fruit, vegetables, meat, biscuits/sweet, coats/jackets, clothes, household goods, electronics etc. Stall owners wore coloured bibs according to what they sold. Food was plentiful. Officials, each displaying an ID badge, walked around the market.
Prices are quoted in Won but if you convert at the official exchange rate (approx 1Euro=135/140Won) one egg cost 100Won/US$1! At the unofficial rate it's a different story.
I offered Euros for a camera memory card but was pointed towards an upstairs area to swap at the official rate. No chance! Though I wonder if there's some 'flexibility' - Pyongyang
A 10 minute walk from Tongil Market (or 20 minutes if you get lost like me) is the Jongbaek Russian Orthodox church - Pyongyang
Keep walking and eventually you'll get to Yanggak Island.
I crossed the Yanggak Bridge to Yanggakdo Island. The guy with the case was drunkenly swaying from side to side as he walked - Pyongyang
I was back in the lobby of the Yanggakdo Hotel, 18 months after staying there as a tourist - Pyongyang
Photos of Kim Jong Il at a military parade at Kim Il Sung Square - Pyongyang
Unlike Tongil Market, Pyongyang's Central Market doesn't welcome foreigners. I peeked inside on my way past, and it looked very similar to Tongil.
There's some fine views of the city from the rotating restaurant at the top of the Yanggakdo Hotel. The May Day Stadium, host to the famous Arirang Mass Games, and the Tower of the Juche Idea are on show here, along with some very annoying dust on my camera lens - Pyongyang
And of course the Ryugyong Hotel can be seen from pretty much anywhere - Pyongyang
Returning to Munsu-dong via the Okryu Bridge - Pyongyang
My Pyongyang feet were a little sore by this point.
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www.koreakonsult.com - Korea Konsult is a Swedish based company that I booked my tour with. For me it offered the best itinerary and was flexible enough to cater for travelling by train to Pyongyang. The group size, at 23, was rather large however (but a great bunch of people!)
www.koryogroup.com - Koryo Tours is the market leader
http://english.chosun.com - Chosun Ilbo is a South Korean newspaper with lots of coverage of North Korea
www.nkeconwatch.com - plenty of independent news stories and analysis of North Korea
www.kcckp.net - news portal on behalf of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (ie. North Korea)
www.kcna.co.jp - news from the 'Korean Central News Agency'
Other tour agencies -
www.explorenorthkorea.com - USA/Dandong, China
www.geoex.com - USA
http://koningaap.nl - Netherlands
www.nordkoreareisen.de - Germany
www.northkorea1on1.com - USA
www.north-korea-travel.com - Hong Kong
www.universaltravel.com.sg - Singapore
www.vnc.nl - Netherlands
www.youngpioneertours.com - China
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