The Pyongyang Foreign Languages Bookstore is located a short walk away from Kim Il Sung Square, in the heart of the DPRK’s capital. The store is commonly visited as a part of organized tours to the country, following a view around the square, and is essentially dedicated to selling visitors North Korean paraphernalia. Although this may seem bland and like a typical tourist giftshop, nevertheless the Pyongyang Foreign Languages Bookstore offers a variety of insightful content which allows the visitor to learn about the country on its own terms. This includes books on North Korea’s ideology, philosophy, law, history, DVDs depicting movies and cartoons, posters, newspapers and so on! It’s a fantastic resource for studying.
As the name suggests, the Pyongyang Foreign Languages Bookstore contains a number of North Korean books translated into languages including English, German, French, Chinese, Russian and so on. The books are inevitably centered upon the works of the leaders and depictions of the country’s ideology. This may include works such as “The Juche Idea: Questions Answered“, “Kim Jong il: The Juche Idea“, books on the worker’s party of Korea and so on. Whilst the typical observer would dismiss such as propaganda, these books contain valuable first hand insights into the DPRK’s view of the world as well as revealing insight into the strategies it employs concerning foreign relations. There’s something to be learnt, even if you don’t take it at face value.
DVDS & CDs
The bookstore contains a number of DVDs which include domestically produced films, cartoons and “political messages”. One thing that you can buy here is North Korea’s famous homemade cartoon, “The Squirrel and the Hedgehog” or classic films such as “The Flower Girl“. CDs with songs from the Korean People’s Army Choir are also for sale here.
The Pyongyang Foriegn Languages Bookstore sells freshly published copies of North Korea’s English language newspaper “the Pyongyang Times“. Whilst these stories are also published in Rodong Sinmun and the KCNA, the newspaper is another useful take on the country’s view of the world! Of course, it’s also a great souvenir and keepsake!
Posters, Postcards, Flags and Lapel Pins
Inevitably, the shop also sells local propaganda posters, as well as their postcard variations. If you fancied sending a surprise mail package home from North Korea (services available in the Yangakkdo International Hotel) this might be a good place to start! In addition, the store also sells real size flags of North Korea, as well as a series of lapel pins for you to wear (not the ones with the leaders faces on them!)