China and the DPRK: Day 7- Pyongyang Planetarium (Three Revolutions Exhibition.)

This was the view through the bus window as we headed off for the first stop on an incredibly action-packed day. I like this shot, not just for the incredibly vibrant colours. Look at that sky! Hard to believe that only 2 days ago we were drinking warm soju in the snow.

I also like this because it shows things that are typical Pyongyang. The colours. The lack of any litter or graffiti. No traffic. And the conservative dress on every woman there. No ripped jeans or mini shirts here! The tiny North Korean flag that you can see flying between the buildings on the street behind. And the white painted tree bottoms.

Most people in Pyongyang, even though they are the most privileged people in the country, are still not rich enough to own their own car. Hence crowds like this at bus stops and trolley stops are pretty common.

First stop – the Planetarium, the central building of the Three Revolutions Exhibition.

I have to say, Pyongyang certainly has more than its fair share of creatively-shaped buildings. Lots of the sports stadiums are shaped like the sport – a shuttlecock for badminton, for example. I didn’t take this shot; I just wanted you to see it.

Anyway, back to Saturn! Thankfully, we didn’t have to tour the bottom floor, which was full of exhibits of all that the DPRK makes, and which looks as dull as ditchwater. All the labels were in Korean so it would’ve been torturous to have to file through them all and pretend to look interested. Being first thing in the morning, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Only us and an unfortunate school group were here.

I quickly snapped this because there were only 7 people in the lift, there was heaps of room left and yet, “NO ROOM!” snapped the lady in blue.

I stood behind her on the way up. The Pyongyang guides, and indeed the ladies, seem to enjoy a bit of bling. On the next stop I was taking discreet pictures of what the ladies were wearing. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Here’s a spy satellite taking off. According to Un Ha, this was “a project to map stages of the Earth”. Whatever that means. There were lots of the usual dioramas of planets and stars, but there were also things like this:

No comment.

As we were leaving we saw another group of people gathering to practice for the massed dancing for the President’s birthday in a few day’s time. (Kim Il Sung died over 20 years ago but he’s still their president. He was THAT good at the job…)

We were pretty lucky in the timing of this trip. The first day was the marathon and the last day was the anniversary of his birthday, so our trip was sandwiched between two very big days. We were looking forward to seeing what happens on the birthday, as they clearly put a lot of effort into it.

Being so early in the morning, they hadn’t yet begun. You can tell that the temperature was warmer because they didn’t have parkas on over their dresses… always a good look.

You can see some of the elaborate detail on the dresses. Niall’s, even though it was peachy keen, wasn’t as pretty as some of these.

Oooo! Naughty Frogdancer took a sneaky photo of a soldier. To be honest though, there are so many soldiers living and working in Pyongyang that it’s difficult not to take any photos without military personnel in them.

We were driving back to the inner city because Matt, our Aussie guide, had heard that a Candy Festival had just opened, so we were squeezing it into our schedule. I had no idea of what a candy festival was, but I was about to find out.

This is the Pyongyang Traffic School, to educate schoolkids about safe pedestrian and bicycling practices. I grew up near the old East Boundary Road traffic school, which did much the same thing. Looking at this place as we sped past, I knew that we had been ripped off!!! This place was massive compared to ours!

Instead of constant billboards advertising products, Pyongyang has flags and billboards advertising the country, patriotism and the ideas and ideals of the Leaders. We got to be very familiar with the red star – it was everywhere. Slightly ironic that the colours are red, white and blue… remind you of another flag??? A Grand Old Flag…?

This Pyramid hotel is so high that it pops up everywhere.

Here’s a jolly billboard of the nuclear tests, with a proud nation cheering them on. Not at all scary… 😛

Here are a few more street shots before we get to the Candy Festival. Again, it’s very North Korea. I don’t know what the building is behind these men, but you can clearly see the pictures of the leaders. We saw people on bikes everywhere… men in suits, military officers, occasionally women but never children.

This was taken in the centre of town. Look at how few cars there are for 9:30am and how conservatively everyone is dressed. A bit to the right you can see a flagpole with the DPRK flag. Seriously, in Australia, you hardly ever see a flag unless you’re going to a government building. North Korea and (judging by movies) the USA seem to have an inordinate love for their respective flags in common.

 

 

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4 Responses to China and the DPRK: Day 7- Pyongyang Planetarium (Three Revolutions Exhibition.)

  1. Andrew says:

    A bit off topic but the Boundary Hotel was one of my father’s favourite watering holes. On topic, I guess as an honoured visitor, you did not get to see where people have starved to death or ate grass and leaves to survive. Still, you have seen it first hand, which is more than most of us will do. Well done you.

    • Frogdancer says:

      I’ve done my research and I know what went on, especially during the famine years. It’s a crazy country – which we saw when we went into the country later that day. Still, they’re doing exactly what we do when we have friends come over from overseas for a holiday – we don’t take them to sewage farms or rubbish tips or the bad side of town. We take them to the good spots. The DPRK has just ramped that concept up slightly to include EVERY tourist. As long as you’re aware of what’s going on and aren’t sucked in by it, it’s interesting to see behind the curtain.________________________________

  2. Urspo says:

    As us Yanks would never see such, it is fascinating to see these photos.

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