Or as the rest of the world know it, North Korea. But to the Koreans there, it’s the DPRK which stands for the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.
That’s where I’ve been for the past week and it’s certainly one of the most unique places that I had ever been to. Nothing that has quite prepared me for what I had seen over there. Some of it is just like what some have written. Many other things just totally caught me off guard in a “people are still people” kind of way running counter to certain impressions.
I’ve also spoken to others in different groups and who had an almost completely opposite experience than what I and my group did. On another level, I’m not too surprised. Much like any account of the reclusive nation, it seems that there are going to be as many different ones good and bad.
I might write up a more detailed post on my visit later on, but in the meantime, here are a few pics to share.
This is the Juche Tower in Pyongyang which symbolizes the "Juche" ideology of the DPRK. It was also incredibly cold that day. Not seen in the picture - the triple layer of clothes I had on. Also, this was incredibly massive.
This is a view from the top of Juche Tower. Kim Il Sung Square is right across from the river (with rollerblading kids aplenty during the day whenever there isn't a military parade) and the massive pyramidal structure off to the right is the almost-completed Ryugyong Hotel.
This view is from the Martyr's Cemetery. The large arched and domed structure you see off in the distance is the May Day Arena, the biggest in the world. We were told it holds up to 150,000 people and is where the Mass Games, or the Arirang, are held. Even though it was the 100th Birthday Celebration for Kim Il Sung, no games were held during the holiday for us to attend. But I have a DVD!
This is at Mansudae, the Memorial Monument at Pyongyang with the statue of Kim Il Sung. A few days before this pic was taken, the new statue of Kim Jong Il was unveiled to commemorate the 100th Birthday Celebration of his father. The crowds should give you an idea of just how massive everything is.