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Coming from outside North Korea (as all* of my readers will be) I am very aware of the impact of mass advertising on our lives and in particular advertising outside our homes which we cannot “turn off” or choose not to look at or hear, though of course few choose to do this and are bombarded with advertising, even within their homes.

The intrusiveness of all this advertising was very quickly brought home to me in North Korea because there is no, with one exception, commercial advertising in North Korea. Suddenly there was something missing in my life. The exception I refer to is a car company which has a bill board somewhere near the airport and perhaps one or two elsewhere. I missed the one at the airport and didn’t see any others. The only non-commercial advertising I saw were a few posters here and there for state run cultural events.

This lack of advertising makes for what most visitors would term a dull streetscape, especially noticeable in Pyongyang, a city of some three million people. Imagine your local town or city with no advertising and that includes shop names and window displays.

What they do have in North Korea, and especially so in Pyongyang, is murals, statues, pictures, etc of the leaders and revolutionary and patriotic successes (some imagined). If you have read others of my reviews on this and my other North Korean pages you will have seen many of these, specific to particular sites or events.

I came to North Korea with the expectation (and, admittedly, hope) that there would be political propaganda in the form posters, murals, etc on every street corner. In reality this is simply not the case. In fact, there are very few murals or other propaganda displays on street corners and along the highways. What is there stands out because of the total lack of any other advertising. If the neon signs, bright lights, bill boards and other advertising found in an equivalently sized area of Seoul, Sydney or London were transplanted into Pyongyang the existing murals, etc would not even be noticed by visitors.

The pictures attached are of street side murals, etc which I was able to capture in Pyongyang. They are basically all I came across, and I was looking for them. I had honestly expected to find more and find much more provocative ones than I did. What there is of the provocative art (missiles hitting Uncle Sam and the like) is pretty much restricted to post-cards and tea-towels in the souvenir shops.

*unless the leadership or elite of North Korea with external internet access are looking in.


This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on my trip to Pyongyang.  I suggest you continue with my next entry – Mansudae Art Studio – or to start the loop at the beginning go to –  Pyongyang – A Capital City Unlike any Other


One thought on “Street Advertising and Murals

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