Pyongyang Trams and Observations from a Short Trip on the Kowngbok (Liberation) Line

Given the dearth of private vehicles in North Korea ordinary citizens rely on public transport to get around, where they cannot walk or cycle to their desired destinations. In Pyongyang public transport comprises a metro (underground) system, trams, trolley-buses and buses. This is supplemented by an increasing number of taxis but due to their extremely high cost, compared to other forms of public transport, they are really only an option for the upper and (growing) middle classes. Continue reading “Pyongyang Trams and Observations from a Short Trip on the Kowngbok (Liberation) Line”

Hoeryong’s Children’s Palace

I suspect it will come as a surprise to many that North Korea has a 100% literacy rate. In North Korea everyone receives twelve years (extended from eleven in 2012) of full time, state funded, education – from kindergarten to high school. After this there is the option to go to university and other institutes of higher learning. Education in North Korea focuses on preparing students for the workforce (including the military) and aims at not only advancing the prospects of each student but also those of the country, consistent with its Juche, or self-reliance, ideology. There is a significant focus on foreign languages, science and technology but this is not at the expense of the arts, culture and sports. Continue reading “Hoeryong’s Children’s Palace”

Other Extra Curriculum Activity

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Not all children make it to the Students and Children’s Palace for its wide range of fun extra curriculum activities. Many, the non-elite, are forced engage in less fun extra curriculum activities (assuming they go to school at all). For city children this frequently appears to mean sweeping the streets and other public areas. While these children, tidying up around Kim Il-sung’s statue on Mount Janam seemed perfectly happy to engage with us and have their photos taken it wasn’t long until we were told by our guide to desist from taking photos of the kids (clearly from less well to do families) as we were frightening and upsetting them! Continue reading “Other Extra Curriculum Activity”

The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace

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Mangyongdae Children’s Palace

The thing that first struck me about the Children’s Palace was the sheer size of the place. It is massive and given that up to 10,000 children pass through here each day it would have to be. The purpose of the Palace, and others though smaller around the country, is to provide extracurricular activities for children so that their mothers can engage in “work, political and cultural activities”. While all children are apparently eligible to attend classes and other activities this Palace is very clearly a place for the most gifted and/or the privileged elite. Continue reading “The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace”