Don't Miss Places In North Korea
North Korea and South Korea formed a single country for hundreds of years, from the 1300s until this century. Between 1910 and 1945, Korea was occupied by Japan. This ended when Japan was defeated in World War II. After this, the country was divided into two, with troops from the Soviet Union occupying North Korea and the United States Troops occupying the south.
In 1950, North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and China, attacked South Korea, which was supported by the United States. Millions were killed or made homeless. The war ended in 1953, but tension between North and South Korea continued, despite peace talks from the 1970s onward. Under communist rule, reunification with South Korea still appears unlikely in the short term.
Enumerated below are the top places that must not be missed when in North Korea.
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Tower of Juche Idea
The 170 m high Tower of the Juche Idea has a viewing platform, which is located directly below the "flame". It can be achieved by means of an elevator, which you must ride to get to the top and inside the tower. From here, you will have spectacular views of the capital. Not to be missed especially at sunset! The admission fee costs € 6. If you come to Pyongyang as a tourist, the Juche Tower is the only architectural structure (not counting, of course, the hotels, if you stay at a penthouse room), from where you can see a scenic panorama of the city. Like the Arc de Triomphe, the monument was erected in 1982 on the 70th anniversary of leader Kim Il Sung. Upstairs there is a viewing platform where you can climb (for a separate fee) on the elevator. While waiting for the elevator, you can read magazines "Korea Today" in English or buy souvenirs at the ground floor. In front of the monument of granite plates are statues of various key political and public figures of North Korea.
The tower is considered the main observation deck of the city. It has a good view of the monument that opens with a river embankment. At the foot of this tower you can also find the bronze sculpture of three figures representing the peasant, worker and intellectual labor. At the top of the monument, you can explore a good lookout, which perfectly shows the visible difference between Western and Eastern Pyongyang. At night, the light simulates a blazing fire, very nice!
Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum
The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum colorfully describes the whole history of the Korean War. Worth visiting are the memorable dioramas (the taking of Seoul with tank trenches, soldiers and the moment of capitulation of Allied forces) and the impression supplemented complete with sound effects and the right lighting. There is a lot to see, learn, and understand, unfortunately, taking pictures while inside the war museum is strictly prohibited. Renovated and re-opened in 2013, the museum requires a mandatory visit while in Pyongyang, North Korea. The fascinating exhibition tells the story of war during 1950 - 1953. The mass of historical artifacts - tanks, military vehicles, planes on both sides of the conflict are displayed along the halls of the museum. The Ship Pueblo was also moved here. The chic and visual panorama-diorama effectively conveyed the message and horrors of war.
The museum is quite unique and the only regret is that you cannot take pictures while inside the museum, but it is allowed to take pictures only on the street and exhibitions in the panorama. Victory Museum Complex at the National War of Independence consists of outdoor exposition (exhibition of American art, padded and captured the Korean army, a monument to the soldiers, the US spy ship "Pueblo", inside which there are guided tours), the actual museum and panorama, between which there is a covered walkway.
The building, which houses the panorama, built earlier, and the museum building - a modern structure was built in 2012. At the entrance to the museum there is a huge stone monument to Kim Il Sung with a face like Kim Jong-un. Inside the museum - the exhibition devoted to the National Liberation War of 1950-1953 was made using the latest technologies.
This is not just a standard museum exhibition of artifacts, but an attempt to create the spirit of the time. For example, you will find yourself in a trench on which you must go into the next room, and the atmosphere around you will be as if you are right in the middle of the hostilities. The Panorama Exhibition was also built earlier but it is also updated and now it has interactive elements like; when the lights in the room go out, they will also pull out guns as if there is a real fire and see shots from the flying airplanes. The feeling is just incredible! The outdoor exposure includes tanks and machinery that the Americans used during the war, helicopter reconnaissance, military gadgets gathered after the war, and the pride of Koreans - American spy ship "Pueblo", a working undercover oceanographic research vessel. Inside, the "Pueblo" also has its own exposure (it was equipped with a vehicle, personal belongings and photographs of the crew). When visiting the "Pueblo" they will show you a movie. Generally, the Museum of Victory in the War of Independence National - a unique complex leaves the most vivid impression of being in North Korea.
Kim Il-sung Square
North Korea's Kim Il Sung Square is the equivalent of China's Tiananmen Square. It is seen in North Korea as a very important meeting point of the city. It is also here where most celebrations and national parades are usually held. Most of the buildings here are covered with green tile roofs making it a very characteristic feature of this site.
The places that can be visited are the Grand People's Study House which can often be seen on Korean television, the large plaza is also very clean with good green edge as well as the fountains and the pictures of Kim Il Sung and his son and the famous Tower of Juche Idea which is also not far from this side of Pyongyang City. The impressive and historic square is very wide. But beware when taking photos, military aides who patrol the area might confiscate your camera and delete all your pictures about the square. If you visit during springtime all you will is flowers all around its well maintained garden and promenade park.
Grand People's Study House
The Grand People's Study House complements the stunning beauty of the palace in Kin Il Sung Square and designed in traditional style. You will not only explore book titles, archive news, and old posters, you will also delight on its interesting architecture. Inside, there is a library with lots of reading materials, computer, and lecture halls. You also have the chance to learn a few basics of the Russian language, which is the third most popular language in the country after English and Chinese. The library building is situated along the banks of the river. The building is beautiful and decorated to match the ensemble of the Kim Il-sung Square. Also called as the People's Palace of study, it is one of the monumental buildings designed in Korean national style and, of course, skillfully done by the local artisans of Pyongyang.
At the same time it has a customary place with lots of cabinets, a row of reading rooms, computer areas where there is access to the local network, a language learning school where anyone interested can study foreign languages complete with audio and visual tools. The main hall of the palace is made quite beautiful with large columns and balconies and all the rest are built in standard rooms. You can move through the floors of the building via the elevator with strange numbers displayed. The top floor of the palace has a balcony with beautiful views of the river and the Juche Tower, located on the opposite bank of it. If you look closely, you can see on the left a monument to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. A visit and tour of the Grand People’s Study House is a must while in Pyongyang City of North Korea.
Geumsusan Memorial Palace
The Geumsusan Memorial Palace (this is also called the Kumsusan Memorial Palace after the death of Kim Jong-il) is a funeral site and at the same time majestic building. Since it was built not as a mausoleum, and as the Palace of Congresses, the surface area is much larger than that of Lenin Mausoleum. It was in the Palace of the Geumsusan where they buried Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994, and Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011. Taking pictures in the palace is not allowed, from the outside. At the entrance once must pass the security check of wardrobe, cameras, phones and even desirable objects of any kind (even sunglasses). After the wardrobe check, you must pass inspection of personal things (bags, shoes, and body frisk which is carried out with no less rigorous than at the airport. It leads directly to the palace, to a long covered gallery on which the movement is performed by moving walkways (perhaps to "recharge" the solemn mourning spirit).
No one uses the “walkalators” that much. You can go on moving on the walkways and you can see on the walls, pictures from the life of Kim Il-sung (with one hand), and Kim Jong-il (on the other). The queue at the palace is divided into two; one for the tourists (much shorter and rapidly advancing), the second is for the North Koreans where the lines are much longer. Most of the locals come to the palace in their best suits and women are often in national dresses. Before entering the hall where the body of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il (two different rooms) rests, you must go through a powerful airflow system, which is apparently used to blow away harmful microorganisms from every visitor.
In the halls, it is mandatory to bow to both leaders three times: from the feet and on both sides; bowing of the head is not necessary. The palace also has a small memorial exhibition on the activities of the two leaders for the good of the Korean people. Outside the palace, there is a small park with a large flower bed and fountains. This park is a place of rest for the local population. Every Sunday, they open the main gate and it is only then that the locals are allowed to stroll through the surrounding area.
Monument to the Korean Workers Party
The Monument to the Korean Workers Party represents the three symbolic arms of the North Korean party. It is one of the most imposing monuments of North Korea. It displays the three huge shows of hands, each to lift or signify one of the official ideology or avatars that represent a class in building socialism; the sickle (peasants), the hammer (proletariat) and the brush (class of intellectuals). Pay attention to the embossed details inside the monument that is derived from a Soviet inspiration.
Once you're close to the Triumphal Arch, you'll be sure to tell you how many meters it is like the one in France. It is and adapted architectural landmark and decorative option of Pyongyang. Despite the fact that it is very similar to other arches in other countries, it has its own special and North Korean charm. From Paris, Pyongyang, and Moscow, the triumphal arches of the three cities are very similar. Each of the monument and in their own way, the landmarks are remarkable and dedicated to the people. To the right of the Pyongyang arch is a beautiful amusement park that is open to the public.
Like all significant architectural objects of the DPRK, the Arc de Triomphe in Pyongyang carries as how locals say a "secret meaning". In other words, the proportions of the arches have an impact in terms of the history of North Korea. The Arch was built in 1982, and its height is greater than the height of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The number of colors depicted on the Arch symbolizes the 70th anniversary of leader Kim Il Sung. The object is of course monumental, but with great contrast to the same arch established in Paris. Feel free to look at it and you cannot miss the panoramic views of the city especially upstairs. A definite must see if you’re in North Korea.
Arch of Reunification
The Arch of Reunification in North Korea is an architectural symbol of hope for the reunification of the Korean people. It is made in the form of two Korean girls in national costumes, stretching each other's hands and keeping the ball in their grasp with the image of the Korean Peninsula that is not artificially divided into North and South. The arch also connects the Avenue Association in Pyongyang and the road leading towards the Kaesong - Korean center which specializes on the production of ginseng.
The Pyongyang Circus
The Pyongyang Circus is a well known evening or night out adventure in North Korea. The acrobat show is housed in an extravagant building that is a bit diverse from your standard huge top and sawdust floor which is common for most state circus performances. In this circus you'll see a stellar showcase of gymnastics, some extremely interesting comedians and profoundly pitiful looking bears that skip rope while wearing amazing outfits.
One of the highlights of the act is the “Class Show” where the acrobatics are truly breathtaking. It is thrilling to watch the Korean acrobat artists nimble, flex, and full of agility on stage. The circus show is fun and lively and all the artists worked 100% to amuse and delight their audience.
Daedong River (Taedong River)
The Taedong River or the Daedong River and its water are very clear and most of Pyongyang's main attractions are around a lot on both sides of this famous river. The riverside is also where you can find the parked ship captured by US forces and the Korean spy ship that is now also a popular place to visit in North Korea. This place is not too commercialized and you can enjoy long walks in an area that is not lined with dining places and other business establishment.
Concrete Wall (Kaesong)
The Concrete Wall carries the strongest impression of the most controversial issue in Korea. On the one hand, you realize that you are on the border; while on the other hand, you will see the other border in the other world. On both sides, there are huge speakers and broadcast propaganda to the opposite side. The two parts of one nation are looking at each other through binoculars and scopes. There is an impressive thin line border on the table in the negotiations barracks, i.e. the tables are divided into northern and southern halves.
If you do not understand what the Cold War is, you should definitely visit here. It is located in North Korea and it is compulsory to see this side. Just visit the 38th parallel and you will understand the greatest tragedy of the Korean people.
North Korea is a country that is worthy of exploration and understanding. It is a country full of hope and promise that in spite of the circumstances, despite the political disputes and conflicts, disagreements and misunderstandings, the dream of being reunited will come true for the entire Korean people soon.