The Pyongyang Metro is the main mass transit system of the aforementioned city. Opened in 1973, the system is notable for its retro East German stock combined with its Soviet Style station design. Owing to the country’s politics, it is the deepest metro system in the world, with its stations doubling as potential bomb centres in the event of war. Because of Pyongyang’s limited development, the system is smaller than those used in major cities around the world (such as London, Seoul, Tokyo, etc). Nevertheless, it is a staple of North Korean tour packages, with visitors typically travelling 1-5 stations on a trip. Here is what to expect:
Riding on the Pyongyang Metro
A Pyongyang metro trip will always start at Puhung Station (pictured). The guides will take the group through the entrance and down the enormous escalator to the platform. Depending on the schedule, the guides may ask the group to wait for a new model train to arrive instead of whatever comes first, an attempt to showcase the system’s modernity. If one is not available, then the traditional East German Stock train will be boarded. On the train, one will see various locals around them. Some may be curious, some may not be. It nevertheless offers a brief look into daily Pyongyang life. It is worth paying attention to what the locals are doing, one may see children with toys and so on.
The new trains, if boarded, make an interesting experience. They were revealed in late 2016 by Kim Jong-un. They look remarkably similar to ones in major cities around the world, with on board LED television screens offering entertainment, as well as interactive route maps and voices. North Korean guides have claimed these trains are being mass produced and all of the Pyongyang metro stock will be replaced with them. However, as of 2018, the number of them has not increased and no change appears to be on the horizon.
Traditional tours would only progress to the next stop, Yonggwang station. Now however, the group usually travels 5 stations and gets off at Kaeson station. Outside the station is the Arch of Triumph, which then forms the next part of the itinerary. One may note a series of shops in the entrance the station and the goods they are selling. This offers insight into the changing nature of North Korean society.