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North Korea: North Korea Streetlife

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North Korea Streetlife | North Korea | Asia

[Visited: July 2000]

One of the conditions for visiting North Korea is that you are not allowed to go anywhere without the guides which are appointed by the State. Not only the itinerary is completely planned beforehand, any visit or trip needs to be completely endorsed beforehand and going anywhere without guide is simply denied. However, this seems to depend on your guides, and probably also on the time of your visit, since it seems that some others have indeed been allowed to walk a little bit around.

Picture of North Korea Streetlife (North Korea): Pyongyang street life: directing traffic at one of the intersections of the city

Nevertheless, we tried on several occasions to get the permission for an innocent stroll around the city, but this was never granted. The motivation was that the guides were afraid that we would take unwanted pictures, and they told us of an incident in which a Korean woman had contact the police, who quickly identified the responsible guides. Since we did not want to create a scandal and did not want our guides to get into trouble, we decided to stick to this severe limitation to our freedom. The eventual compromise was a guided walk along the vast and almost empty stretches of asphalt avenues in the capital. How much were we longing to just some walking around, talking to the population on the street, and, indeed, taking pictures whenever we wanted! Even the apparently most innocent shots were not approved by the guides, while the stares of the people we saw were certainly not hostile at all, just very curious. Obviously, the guides preferred us to take nice pictures of one of the monumental statues instead.

Picture of North Korea Streetlife (North Korea): Pyongyang street life: cycling one of the wide streets of the city

The pictures you can see on this page were the ones we took more or less unnoticed. In this country of contradictions, the nervousness about our walking about the city for fear of contact with the local public struck us as an especially obvious and lamentful example. After all, in all its publications, monuments, and all other channels the government tries to make it very clear to the very same visitors to the country that these people are the happiest, proudest, most friendly and social people of the world. One can wonder, then, what could be wrong with communicating with these people?

Picture of North Korea Streetlife (North Korea): Pyongyang architecture with accompanying mural/propaganda
Picture of North Korea Streetlife (North Korea): Rehearsing for a parade in Pyongyang
Picture of North Korea Streetlife (North Korea): Kim Jong Il overlooking a square in Pyongyang
Picture of North Korea Streetlife (North Korea): Mural with propaganda directed at the population of Pyongyang
Picture of North Korea Streetlife (North Korea): Korea is one - one of the many slogans of North Korea

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