Chairman Mao Zedong

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Less than an hour out of North Korea and I wondered, was I never going to be able to get away from bronze statues of leaders in squares? Continue reading “Chairman Mao Zedong”

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Our short crossing – Sinuiju to Dandong, China

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After lunch our passports, entry permits and exit cards had been returned to us and we were asked to sign the pre-completed exit cards which were written in Korean and completed in Korean. Having jokingly asked our guide what she had written about me on my exit card she had a second look and changed one answer explaining that I had now been converted from female to male. I signed the card, wondering what else might be incorrect on it and what fate might shortly befall me for ‘my’ false declarations. Continue reading “Our short crossing – Sinuiju to Dandong, China”

Looking at Dandong from Sinuiju

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Sinuiju, North Korea’s most significant border town with 360,000 people is literally a few hundred metres from Dandong, a thriving city of nearly 3 million people in north east China. In practical terms, for all bar a select few citizens of Sinuiju, the two cities might as well be on different planets as there is as much chance of their getting to Dandong as there is of their getting to another planet. Continue reading “Looking at Dandong from Sinuiju”

Sinuiju School Visit

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Universal free education is a trademark of most socialist countries and North Korea is no exception in this regard. Free Pre-school, primary, secondary and higher level education is offered to all. Compulsory primary and secondary education was introduced in 1956 and 1958 respectively and from 2012 minimum education requirements became 12 years (formally 11) – one year of pre-school, five years of elementary school, three years of primary middle school, and three years of advanced middle school. Continue reading “Sinuiju School Visit”

Come Into Our Tender Embrace

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Across the road from the Eternal Life Monument is a duo of murals commonly found throughout North Korea and, in fact, the only murals that I have seen in multiple locations, including in Pyongyang and at Mt Myohyang in addition to this one in Sinuiju. The slogans on these murals are in keeping with the Eternal Life Monument and read “The great comrade Kim Il-sung will be with us forever” and “The great comrade Kim Jong-il will be with us forever”.

Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang, which has a virtual (if not real) monopoly on the production of statues, mosaics and murals of the leaders and, in fact, anything else featuring their images including the ubiquitous lapel pins worn by all adult North Koreans must have a raft of designers to be able to come up with an ever ending stream of new designs and pictures for this artwork.

One has to admit that the pastel colours and highly emphasised smiles on the leaders in these murals create a feeling of warmth and comfort in people looking at them. Who wouldn’t want to be under the wings and loving care of these omnipresent, wise, benevolent and endearing gentlemen?

The cult of personality, unparalleled by any other world leader or indeed person, remains very much alive and well in North Korea, even 20 years after the death of Kim Il-sung and, of course, murals such as this are aimed at cementing loyalty to the Kim dynasty into the future.

The vehicle in the foreground of this picture was our transport in Sinuiju, remembering that in addition to two of us and the driver, room was needed for our two guides as well.

By this stage it was getting on to mid morning and our attention now turned to a more recent generation of North Koreans – our next stop was a school, but off course no ordinary school.


This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on my trip to Sinuiju, North Korea. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Sinuiju School Visit – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – In North Korea – On the Border with China.