This is a statue of a worker, peasant, and intellectual in front of the Tower of Juche Idea in Pyongyang, North Korea. I found this statue to be quite similar to Vera Mukhina’s “Worker and Kolkhoz Woman” statue in Moscow.
You can find large lampposts with these cameras all over Tiananmen Square (these particular cameras are situated near the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall) along with numerous uniformed and plainclothes police officers. Since Tiananmen Square has been the site of important demonstrations, the authorities continue to keep a watchful eye on any activities taking place there (exhibit any political activity and you will be quickly whisked away). Despite the government, China is a fascinating country to visit. Cheap flights to Beijing are often available during the winter and there are plenty of different-priced accommodations to choose from.
Taekwondo athletes perform at the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang, North Korea. What exactly are the mass games? Well, take 100,000 North Koreans, place them in the largest stadium in the world, add some perfectly choreographed gymnastics, dancing, singing, and a heavy dose of propaganda, and the end result is a massive show glorifying the achievements of North Korea and its eternal President, Kim Il-Sung.
This is pansanggi, a traditional Korean meal that consist of several small bowls filled with kimchi, fish, and other assorted foods. Pansanggi was traditionally eaten by the Korean royalty, but we had an opportunity to try it at the Tongil restaurant in Kaesong, North Korea. I have previously posted about North Korean food here.
In a previous post about North Korea I described our group’s visit to the USS Pueblo, an American ship that was captured by the North Koreans on January 23, 1968 and has since remained in North Korean hands. To this day the North Koreans love bragging about how they captured the “US ARMED SPY SHIP PUEBLO!” (as they refer to it) and have made the ship into a tourist attraction on the banks of the Taedong River in Pyongyang. They have also placed images of the Pueblo and its crew on stamps and postcards that are available for purchase at souvenir stores in Pyongyang. For those of you who have an interest in the USS Pueblo, I am posting scans of two of the stamps I purchased that feature the Pueblo and its crew and a postcard I sent to a friend. If you speak Korean and can provide a translation for the stamps, please let me know!
Notice the fake roses, seagulls, and windsurfers that have been added to the postcard. I definitely did not see any windsurfers on the Taedong River when I was there.
I guess they have more important things to do than clean the windows on the buildings that straddle the Military Demarcation Line in the Korean DMZ’s Joint Security Area. As seen from one of the buildings where negotiations are conducted, this North Korean soldier is standing guard on North Korea’s side of the MDL. On the other side of that concrete line is South Korea, which, when we visited was devoid of any soldiers. It seriously looked like a ghost town.
I was curious if anyone had ever attempted to flee North Korea by running across the MDL to South Korea. As it turns out, such an incident did occur on November 23, 1984 when Vasily Matusak, a Soviet citizen touring North Korea, ran across the MDL into South Korea. Soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army pursued him, firing their weapons. A firefight between the North Korean and US/South Korean forces ensued, resulting in the deaths of one South Korean (Corporal Jang Myong-Ki) soldier and three North Korean soldiers as well as several wounded.
This is the first photo I took in North Korea, after we had arrived at Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport (FNJ) via Air Koryo flight 222 from Beijing. After customs officers admitted us
into the country, we handed over our luggage so that it could be X-rayed for weapons, explosives, “killing devices”, drugs, “exciters” (?!), poison, “publishings of all kinds”, GPS devices, and cellphones. Those of us with cellphones and smartphones had them confiscated with the promise that they would be returned to us when we left the country (which made me wonder if travel or Blackberry insurance would cover “lost” devices aka those that were now in the hands of Party bureaucrats). Our luggage cleared by customs, we were divided into our tour groups and directed to the bus that would be shuttling us around the country for the next five days.