You made a really good decision to watch this youtube video.
Because last year I went on a trip towards North-Korea.
And I took a lot of photos and videos there. So I decided to share some of the highlights
of my trip. I will comment every here and there, so sit
back and enjoy!
This was our Air-Koryo Airplane. For some reason Europe put Air-Koryo on a
blacklist. But our flight was really really good.
So nothing to complain from here.
[Music] So this Arch of Triumph is just a bit higher
than the one in Paris. Meaning it's the highest Arch of Triumph in
the world. As for the music band, I'm not really sure
if they're always there. Or only if there's tourists or anything. But
it was a nice way of saying welcome.
This is the Ryangang Hotel, meaning it's the place where two rivers meet.
This is the lobby you see and they had two stores.
The first one was a clothing store, but nobody ever worked there.
So you couldn't buy anything. But they had a souvenir store as well.
And you could buy everything there. From postcards, posters, to books, flags,
portraits, small buttons, anything.
Obviously you had to pay in foreign currency, because it was worth more.
And they would charge you a ridiculous exchange rate.
To make sure they would earn enough money out of you.
Of course our hotel had a revolving restaurant on top of it.
Except for the fact that the restaurant didn't actually revolve.
And secondly you couldn't see anything. Not only because the windows...
were so bad, but also because outside was simply pitch black.
Anyway, the evening took a nice turn when the Koreans started...
singing Karaoke, so enjoy!
Ehm, yep. Well, karaoke is everywhere in Asia. But North-Korea is apparently no exception.
The next morning we went to the mausoleum. You probably know this picture, because the
great leader... general, comrade, Kim Jong Il has just tragically
(been) passed away. [Sob]
Ok, anyway. So Kim Il Sung (his father) and Kim Jong Il himself...
are now being displayed here. And there were so many soldiers going there
to the body of Kim Il Sung. They said it was open to everybody, but I
only saw soldiers going there.
So bowling is just bowling, not so much different between Europe and North-Korea.
But still it was a way to see some of the locals, obviously upperclass, but okay.
Ok so this is some footage I took from the bus while we were heading towards Mount Myohyang.
Mount Myohyang is a mountain area about 90 minutes drive north of Pyongyang.
However one bridge was under repair, so therefore we had to take a deroute.
And as a result our trip took more than 3 hours, so more than twice as long as it would
have normally taken.
The deroute gave us an opportunity to see some more normal cities of North-Korea. Less
upper-class and less reconstructed and repaired and maintained, in comparison to Pyongyang,
One of the things I still wonder is right here, you see some sort of a watchtower.
I'm not sure what it is, or what it's function is.
It looks like a watchtower to me, but I really don't have a clue actually.
Ok so here you see a department store. You can tell it's a department store by the
Korean writing on top of the entrance. And if you look close you will see some goods
being displayed on the ground floor. At the moment I'm reading this book written
by Barbara Demick. It's called "Nothing to envy" and she writes
that certain stores in North-Korea sometimes display food which is totally made out of
plastic. So the only purpose of these stores, or these
displays, is to impress foreigners. I'd be really interested if this is one of
those impression advertisement stores. Or if it's just a normal department store.
Ok so we almost missed this part where you see these people are still using an ox and
a wagon. An ox and a wagon sounds really medieval.
Some decades ago, North-Korea was rather thriving. And they were actually using machinery at
the time. However, history took a different turn and
the communist block fell apart. And ever since all these changes, North-Korea
has got this tremendous shortage of fuell and of machinery and of stuff to repair the
machinery. So, it's kind of sad, but these people have
to use an ox and a wagon again.
Ok so I'm not really sure what this is. I think it could be a black market. I know
there are black markets in North-Korea. But, I'm not sure.
I'm really sorry you can't see so much right now.
The problem was that they didn't allow me to make movies from within the bus.
So if it would be crowded on the streets, or if there would be soldiers watching the
bus, I decided to snug my camera out of sight. Because I didn't want to get caught obviously.
You hear the bus driver honking quiet a lot. The problem wasn't so much traffic, but the
problem was more that there were so many people on the streets, either walking or using their
I saw one cyclist being literally pushed off the road.
He fell into the little water, right next to the road.
From what I heared from other people they saw three in total being pushed off the road.
The bus driver really was going crazy on this piece of tar.
I'm not really sure why he behaved like that. Maybe he didn't like us seeing the town from
so up-close. Or maybe he just had some time to catch up.
Ok! So we arrived in our hotel in Mount Myohyang. And the first you will notice is this big
painting on the wall. You could see two persons sitting there.
To the left was Kim Il Sung and to the right was the current leader at the time, Kim Jong
It's funny because Kim Il Sung is dead now for almost 20 years.
And technically he's still the leader of the country.
So, what I'm doing now, is I'm taking a short walk to my hotel room.
The hotel was called the "Chongchong Hotel". It was an ok hotel. Especially of course in
comparison to how the normal people live. But there was this much more upper-class pyramid
style hotel not so far from here. The entire hotel gave you this, not scary,
but bit eery feeling.
You could see that, at a certain stage in history, this must have been a popular place.
Where people would have bought their beer, talk about their day, have fun, make jokes.
Just hard to realize how the life has been sucked out of it, at the moment.
Electricity is not too common in North-Korea. So big parts of the hotel were not illuminated.
Some were, but not too much.
So our hotel door couldn't lock. Still they insisted we took the key.
We did have a television. It only received one channel.
And at the moment they were showing weightlifting. The actual quality was better, but my camera
somehow screwed it over. And of course we had a shower.
You could take a shower, but only between 08.30 and 09.30 PM.
At other times there could be water, but the water wouldn't be warm.
Ok next morning this was the front of the hotel.
If you would look down the street you would see, of course, an empty street again.
Streets were often empty. In the morning we went to the friendship exhibition.
Which is some sort of museum. And on display they've got all the gifts they
received from other leader and from other countries and parties.
And it gave some sort of James Bond feeling, with guards, and silver shining machine guns
Of course only soldiers visiting it, no normal citizens.
In North-Korea trips like this it's sometimes hard to get a good picture of the political
situation of the country. However, in the friendship exhibition we got
some sort of insight. Since one of the gifts was a sword from Kaddafi,
we started to talk about him being killed in the Arab Spring Revolution.
And, one of our guides didnt know apparently. So he went to another guide, and he told him
like: "He dude, did you know Kaddafi has been killed?"
And the other guide who he told him responded like:
"No no no, that's not true. They've got no idea what they're talking about whatsoever".
Because of course, a leader, a dictator that's being killed by it's own people, is like the
worst news you could ever get in a country like North-Korea.
So here we're driving throught Pyongyang. Which is the showcase capital of North-Korea.
In general it looks quiet nice, however you see these unfinished buildings every now and
then, but the buildings look quiet well maintained.
So we're heading for an elementary school, which has this soccer field in front of it.
And this is the picutere I made there. This school has been opened by the eternal
leader Kim Il Sung himself. Hugging the kids and everything.
And in general, Kim Il Sung propaganda mostly depicted him as the fatherly figure of
[Kids playing and shouting]
Car ownership is generally not allowed. So, that's one of the reaons why the streets are
most of the time almost empty. Central square, Pyongyang.
Here's where most of the funeral ceremony of Kim Jong Il was being held.
This underground market is right in the middle of the same central square.
I guess it's legal because of the location, but it looks a bit secret nonetheless.
This subway system is the deepest in the world. It's over a hundred meters deep and it doubles
as a nuclear shelter in case of emergency. Many things are still being done manually.
And here you see these three big metal gates. So if there is a nuclear emergency they close
it, and it's totally sealed.
Juche is the communist inspired ideal invented by Kim Il Sung.
And this tower is meant to somehow honor that ideology.
The next day we would go to Kaesong. Kaesong is the border city right next to the
famous DMZ crossing. Luckily we had the weather forecast, so we
could see it would be 8 degrees Celcius.
"The black line is the military demarcation line".
"The military demarcation line covers 246 kilometers area, from east end to the west
This writing means something like "One Single Korea".
Because of course, none of the two Korea's like being split up.
So both of them would like to reunify again, whenever that is.
This is us driving towards the actual DMZ border.
To the left you see this big concrete blocks. So in case hell breaks out, they can cut the
rope and they can remove some small block beneath the concrete.
And these concrete blocks will fall on the road.
Obstructing any tanks, or other military vehicles from getting in.
The fore kilometer wide DMZ is mostly used for nothing really.
Both the sides use it a bit for agricultural purposes, but other than that it's not so
In these houses the armistice was signed in 1953.
So this is the most famous part of the DMZ probably.
The buidling on the other side is a South-Korean building.
And there is a whole lot of camera's on top of it.
And downstairs you see a couple of barracks. The blue ones are South-Korean and the grey
ones are North-Korean. And from both sides you can actually enter
one of those blue barracks. Ok so before went on this trip I've been living
in South-Korea for half a year. And we also took the DMZ tour from South-Korea.
And going here from the other side was so much cooler.
You could really feel the tension on the south DMZ trip.
Because they gave you this pre-departure briefing. Like saying how careful you had to be, and
don't wave at the North-Korean soldiers. And don't make gestures. And if you get shot or
if you get killed it's your own fault. We're not liable for anything.
However when I came here from the north the entire sence of threat and tension was gone.
And I hate to say it, but it was almost boring coming here from the north in comparison to
coming here from the south. Ok so this is Pyongyang railway station. You
see another portrait of the leader Kim Il Sung on top of it.
There were loads and loads of people. And this is the place where we would catch
our train to leave North-Korea again.
Ok, so much for the highlights of my North-Korea DPRK trip.
Here's the last photos and videos I took from the train on our way back to China.
I hope I gave you some insight into my trip. And of course I'm not a North-Korea specialist
or anything. So if you've got any remarks please just drop
'em in the comments!