What is life like in North Korea’s capital city? You see the photos of the statues, the towers, the monuments and all the other well recognized and idiosyncratic sites of Pyongyang, but what about the people themselves? How do they live? What do they do? What kind of lives do they live? In this post, we set out Pyongyang life in the most illustrative and revealing way possible. Across four years, Visit North Korea’s founder has travelled to the DPRK many times. All of the photos below were took exclusively by him of Pyongyang life. None the below mentioned photos constitute propaganda or were staged purely for tourists, they are simply scenes of life, allowing us to discern what life is like (in the capital) of the world’s most secretive country.
1) A toy shop inside a metro station. Pyongyang’s society is becoming increasingly consumer orientated. To see children with toys, even disney products, is increasingly common.
2) Boys playing football outside of a school
3) Families in the audience await the performance of their children at the Children’s Palace
4) Old ladies cleaning the street. Pyongyang is spotlessly clean, there is no litter, no graffiti, nothing. It is every citizen’s duty to help keep it clean.
5) Boys playing basketball. It’s a popular sport in North Korea, the leader might have something to do with that.
6) A family eat together at a cafe
7) Taxis in Pyongyang. Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of cars in the DPRK’s capital. Taxis are increasingly common, even if a luxury for some people. There were no signs whatsoever of fuel sanctions taking hold on North Korea.
8) Groups huddle at the side of the road and socialize, just outside of Pyongyang.
9) Casual chatting again, near Kim Il-Sung Square. In the background, people buy snacks from a street food outlet.
10) On the metro, two men reading newspapers.
11) The new Pyongyang metro trains were launched in late 2016. This crowded scene could easily be mistaken for anywhere else in Asia.
12) A woman pushes her baby in a buggy, next to the Arch of Triumph
13) Adults studying an English course at the Grand People’s Study House During winter. The building had no heating.
14) Families line up at the bottom of the Mansudae Grand Hill Monument, waiting to walk up and pay tributes to the leaders. They are dressed in the finest clothing. Men in military or Mao suits, women in Han/Cho’bok dresses.
15) An older man reading a newspaper in a shop, pretty self-explanatory
16) A Librarian at work at the Grand People’s Study House
17) Two local women chatting at the Sunrise Coffee Cafe, a luxury cafe designed primarily for expats
18) Similar to the picture above, families line up to pay respect to Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-il at the Mansudae Grand Hill monument. Here they place flowers and bow
19) Three old ladies walk across Kim Il-Sung Square in winter
20) Gardening outside one of the DPRK’s government ministries
21) Staff of the Yanggakdo International Hotel do daily exercises and ideological training whilst the guests are all away. We had to come back to the hotel for something, this is a rare behind the scenes shot.
22) Family on the metro- note the little boy’s toy gun
23) People getting served at a street food outlet. As you can see, they didn’t want me to take this photo
24) Roadside Maintence at Mansudae Foundation Park