Pyongyang’s Trolley-buses

Until very recently, about a month after my visit in April 2014, tourists did not get to ride on a trolley-bus. Looking at my pictures attached you might think that is no big deal or, in fact, a good thing.

A short trip on a trolley-bus is now featuring on some tours. It is another one of these things, like a walk in the street, that are a must do only because you are in North Korea. Continue reading “Pyongyang’s Trolley-buses”

Foreign Language Bookshop: ‘Buy a book or two’


“Books are treasure – house of knowledge and the textbooks for a person’s life” Kim Il-sung

Prior to going to North Korea you will be advised by your tour operator as to what books and reading material you can and cannot take into North Korea. In addition to the type of literature banned by most countries there are two broad types of literature which you cannot take into North Korea – religious material beyond that required for your personal needs and material produced in the west related to the North Korean Leaders, the Workers Party, North Korean politics and history. Continue reading “Foreign Language Bookshop: ‘Buy a book or two’”

Kim Il-sung Square


Many readers will have seen video and pictures from North Korea showing parades of thousands of goose stepping soldiers (and they do it very well) and armoured vehicles carrying the most up to date military hardware including rockets and missiles (though many are just mock-ups) passing a review stand of the military top brass, barely able to stand upright due to the weight of medals on their tunics. Continue reading “Kim Il-sung Square”

Grand People’s Study House (Part 2)

Books in the Library!

In part one of my review I provided a broad overview of the Study House/ library. In this review I will cover the library’s resources available to the people.

The Grand People’s Study House is said to contain 30 million volumes and other articles including the 10,800 works of Kim Il-sung and, perhaps more famously among tourists, it does contain an encyclopaedia on chickens which forms part of the library’s English Language collection. Continue reading “Grand People’s Study House (Part 2)”

Korean Feature Film Studio (2) – The Film Sets


If you have not read the first part of this review – Korean Feature Film Studio (1) – I recommend that you do so before reading this part.

In the knowledge that the North Korean film industry only produces patriotic and revolutionary historical epics (no need for the masses to see Kim Jong-il’s private collection or anything else) the film sets at the studio are restricted to an ancient Korea village, a 1920s Japanese street, a 1950s South Korean street, a traditional rural village and a number of seemingly unrelated European buildings. Continue reading “Korean Feature Film Studio (2) – The Film Sets”

Korean Feature Film Studio (I)


Having spent a number of days in North Korea it was time to visit the Korean Feature Film Studio, or more specifically the film sets as we did not get into the studios themselves.

Many would argue, and with some justification, that the whole of North Korea is like a film set where everything is stage managed and has an air of artificiality about it. Continue reading “Korean Feature Film Studio (I)”

Mansudae Art Studio


The output of this art studio can be seen everywhere in North Korea.

Every statue of the leaders, every painting/image (as opposed to photograph) of the Leaders right down to the lapel pins worn by every citizen and all the great monuments such as the Monument to the Foundation of the Korean Workers Party were designed and, in the main, produced here. In addition to this, the studio has very active painting and pottery sections (among its thirteen sections). The studio’s most recognisable piece of work is the Mansudae Grand Monument in the city centre. Continue reading “Mansudae Art Studio”

Street Advertising and Murals


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. Continue reading “Street Advertising and Murals”