North Korea on the eve of the war

North Korea on the eve of the war

According to the official version, Kim Jong Il was born on the sacred Mount Pektusan. At the moment of the birth of the leader, a new bright star appeared in the sky. (Actually, he was born in the village of Vyatskoye of the Khabarovsk Territory and his real name is Yuri).
Everything that the leader touched in Korea is now a shrine. Each statue must bow to the floor. If icons sometimes come across in our homes, in Korea it is mandatory that in every house (class, reception room, subway car, etc.) there are portraits of leaders: father and son (Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il). Summertime in the country is from the birth of Kim Il Sung (now is the 102nd year). When the leader died, the sun began to shine much dimmer, and the Earth's orbit shifted slightly, which was recorded by scientists all over the world.


Most of all, the modern life of North Korea is reminiscent of the activities of a religious sect.


You cannot come to North Korea on your own. It can only be visited as part of an organized group. Immediately upon arrival in the country, we were taken under the care of two guides and a driver.The next week we spent under their scrutiny. And not only them: from time to time we noticed various people who clearly followed us and even took pictures. Leaving the hotel without a guide is strictly prohibited. The hotel itself was located on an island in the middle of the river in Pyongyang. The control is truly total: the guides know what you eat, where you go to the hotel, what you photograph. All rooms in the hotel are monitored (but the tour operator warned about this back in Moscow).

View from the hotel


The country has big problems with electricity. Even in the capital, light is given only from 8 pm to midnight. But even in our hotel, the voltage was so weak that a liter of water in the kettle boiled for about 20 minutes. There is no light even in public transport. Trams run with an unlit cabin even in the dark. Almost all of the electricity available to the country is spent on rotating centrifuges at uranium enrichment plants and on feeding the barbed wire around the perimeter of the country. The apartments for the most part bulbs Ilyich.

Evening Pyongyang resembles a ghost town


With transport problems in general. There are no private cars, and bicycles are obligatorily registered.A privately owned car can be only if the leader personally gives you it, i.e. Almost never. People only have bikes. Each bike is necessarily registered.


In Pyongyang, the standard of living is much higher than outside. But even in Pyongyang the bus took us only along strictly defined streets, even if it was not on the way. Taking pictures from the bus is impossible. In general, you can take pictures only where the guide permits and only in the direction in which he permits. They got out of the situation as they could: in modern cameras there is a silent shooting mode, but silently it is nominally, but in fact it is still a little audible. Our guide immediately noticed that we were taking pictures from the bus and even began to look through my photos, removing some that she didn’t like. The next time I had to wrap the camera in a jacket to completely remove the shutter sound. So I apologize for the curvature of photos.

And taking pictures from the windows was what.


City streets



Practically everything in the country is done manually.

Sidewalk repair


Road repair



Even the iron ones are repaired with bare hands. Labor here is almost free.


There is almost no oil in the country, and from this there are two main consequences: the almost complete absence of asphalt in the country and trucks with wood. The roads are just awful: bare, concrete slabs parted among themselves instead of asphalt. 200 kilometers of road outside the city in the complete absence of cars took us 4 hours of time.

And trucks with wood burning really exist, although they drive very slowly.


There are 2 seas in the country: West Korean (Yellow) and East Korean (Japanese). All approaches to the sea tightened barbed wires under tension. According to the official version, voiced by the guide, this is done so that the Japanese and other imperialists do not land on the Korean land from the water. In reality, people are deprived of the last opportunity to escape from the country.


Every day a tourist in Korea is painted to the minute. Deviations from the program are not allowed. If we go to a restaurant or shop, then only the one provided by the program. The establishment is specially opened for us, so there is no way to cross with the local population.

If you eat too selectively in food, then this can be a problem for you: there is no menu in the restaurant - what you have brought is what you eat. All food is on schedule. Eating Korean food is very difficult. All food is terribly spicy.Once ate even a dog. Carry only on exemplary places in which the guide proudly allowed to take pictures, but even they look monstrous. Here, for example, exemplary kindergarten. Children sing a patriotic song.


Children were prepared for the arrival of foreign guests and they happily waving their hands with us


Required attributes exemplary kindergarten: swing



Exemplary school. In a physical education class, children are tied up with one leg: both sport and at the same time they will learn how to run.




In any exemplary institution everyone does it, pretending that nothing is happening and they worked until you came. Although it is abundantly clear that all people are brutally harassed out. An exemplary collective farm, for the sake of a visit to which we drove half the country. There is even a tractor.



Outside the exemplary state farm they plow mostly on cows. The tractor is a wonder for Korea. When I see a harnessed cow and a man knee-deep in the mud, I remember the fields on the other side of the 38th parallels look like, as in South Korea, the fields are processed without human participation at all using fully automated GPS-oriented combines.But for the most part they work with bare hands.


Cows are used even in the suburbs of Pyongyang and just in small towns.


When there are no cows, children are harnessed


Guides constantly ask the same questions: who do you work with (although they already know this very well from our embassy questionnaires), what do you do, are you a journalist, do you have a GPS receiver in your phone? After each conversation the guide writes everything down. It’s almost impossible to tell each other something quietly: the guide just pokes his head towards you and listens - it feels like they take an hearing test before becoming guides. By the way, they didn’t take away the phones, but rewrote and declared them at the airport - they didn’t have any sense from them anyway: not a single cellular roaming operator is there. Forced to declare not only all electronic devices, but also all printed materials. Any books are subject to declaration upon entry into the country. In general, I had to wait for my suitcase for half an hour at the airport - they probably carried it a long time from the plane :)

On all the maps, Korea is painted a single. The southern part is considered occupied by the Americans.


The worship of the leaders is truly fantastic.The mausoleum is a huge double temple complex, one part of which is assigned to the father, the other to the son. Even a tourist visit to the mausoleum is a long chain of rituals. Tourists are allowed only in strict clothes. At the entrance to the mausoleum, you need to clean the soles of your shoes, then hand over all things to the storage chamber. This is followed by an escalator with a length of 1 kilometer (the guide said so, but there are suspicions that the escalator is actually somewhat shorter), which travels at a speed of 2 kilometers per hour. You cannot walk along the escalator, you cannot stand leaning, you can not shove your hands in your pockets either - while riding the escalator, you can only stand a soldier and listen to patriotic music playing from everywhere. And this is only halfway to the corpse. The body lies in a huge hall. Approaching the body, there is 1 bow at the feet in the front and three bows from the other sides.

Then the whole story is repeated with another leader.
Mausoleum outside. It is strictly forbidden to take photographs inside, and even coins from your pocket are asked to pass.


The streets are full of military. In addition to the main purpose, the military is engaged in everything, for example, repairing the streets.


There are almost no traffic lights in Korea.But a lot of traffic controllers. Almost all regulators are women.


Propaganda and the distortion of history has a fantastic scope. I think that if you give these people a history textbook, they simply will not believe what is written in it - the facts from the textbook will contrast so vividly with their picture of the world.


The guide carefully follows that the image of the leader is not cropped in your photos, even if it is an icon in the subway car - God forbid you take a picture of a statue without a head.

In general, the metro in Pyongyang is monumental - all modeled on the Soviet Union. We even drove 1 station. Traveling in the subway costs 1 ruble on our money (according to the guide)



I do not understand where the communists have such a love for gray. It seems that there is not a single colored building in the country.


I have repeatedly been in the "banana" republics and have always been firmly convinced that there are people themselves to blame for their laziness and their poverty. But here the situation is fundamentally different. People in Korea work from dawn to dusk and have 1 day off every 10 days (in cities once every 7 days), but all of these people work to maintain the power of the existing regime, to maintain it. Unlike the "banana" republics, these people are not to blame for their poverty.Sometimes these people have nothing to eat, but they have an atomic bomb. This very clearly characterizes the regime. The guide does not even hesitate to say that those who did not cry hard enough at the funeral of the leader were sentenced to a year of correctional labor.


Generally in Korea is not scary. There is complete isolation and no information penetrates from the outside. We were given only one occasion for concern. At the entrance to the country, our passports were taken away, and then on the fifth day they unexpectedly returned, although we only had a flight in 2 days. And they returned them to us on the Day of the Sun (the birthday of the leader), i.e. on the very day when many expected to launch a rocket and, in general, almost the start of the war. Everything would be fine, but in the passports it appeared that we left the country on April 17, although there were only 15 in the yard. Those. stamp stood future date. But nothing terrible happened.

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  • North Korea on the eve of the war

    North Korea on the eve of the war

    North Korea on the eve of the war

    North Korea on the eve of the war

    North Korea on the eve of the war

    North Korea on the eve of the war

    North Korea on the eve of the war

    North Korea on the eve of the war

    North Korea on the eve of the war

    North Korea on the eve of the war

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