Archive for July, 2012

Working for a Strong and Prosperous North Korea

More rare photos from the North Korean countryside:  road construction, transportation, industry, and farming in Hamhung/Wonsan region.

Wonsan - Hamhung Countryside North Korea

Wonsan - Hamhung Countryside North Korea

Wonsan - Hamhung Countryside North Korea

Hamhung Countryside

Hamhung Countryside

Tram Repairs North Korea

North Korean Rail Service

Hamhung Countryside

Industry Hamhung, North Korea

Working for the Bumper Harvest

Working for the Bumper Harvest

Working for the Bumper Harvest

Please note that tourists are not generally permitted to take photos such as these due to the government’s fear that they could be used to portray the country in a negative manner. Our guides gracilcly permitted me to take photos of the “beautiful countryside”, which I post here with total respect and in appreciation for the DPRK rural way of life.

All photos by Joseph A Ferris III


Working for a Bountiful Harvest in the North Korean Countryside

Rare photos of farmers in the North Korean countryside (between Hamhung and Wonsan) preparing fields and working for the upcoming planting season.

Pyongyang - Wonsan Countyside North Korea

Pyongyang - Wonsan Countyside North Korea

Pyongyang - Wonsan Countyside North Korea

Wonsan - Hamhung Countryside North Korea

Wonsan - Hamhung Countryside North Korea

Wonsan - Hamhung Countryside North Korea

Wonsan - Hamhung Countryside North Korea

Wonsan - Hamhung Countryside North Korea

Pyongyang - Wonsan Countyside North Korea

Pyongyang - Wonsan Countyside North Korea

Pyongyang - Wonsan Countyside North Korea

Wonsan - Pyongyang Countryside

Wonsan - Pyongyang Countryside

Please note that tourists are not generally permitted to take photos such as these due to the government’s fear that they could be used to portray the country in a negative manner. Our guides gracilcly permitted me to take photos of the “beautiful countryside”, which I post here with total respect and in appreciation for the DPRK rural way of life.

All photos by Joseph A Ferris III


North Korean Roadside Attactions

Hamhung, North Korea

Soldier squirrels, missiles, and AK-47s raised defiantly into the air, just a few examples of the roadside attractions (propaganda) commonly seen in towns outside Pyongyang, North Korea.

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North Korean Cell Phone Revolution

Cell phones may have arrived in North Korea, but apparently public service announcements teaching the dangers of texting and driving haven’t.

Hamhung City Square, DPRK, North Korea

Hamhung, North Korea - photo by Joseph A Ferris III


On the Road in North Korea – Departing Nampo

Nampo Countryside North Korea


North Korean Panda Bears Dance on Kim Il Sung’s Birthday

Young girls dressed in panda bear costumes relax between performances for foreigners at a folk fair held on the Day of the Sun, the April 15th, 2012 celebrations to honor the 100th year birthday of ‘Eternal President‘ Kim Il Sung.

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

On this day there were many military parades and Kim Jong-un appearances throughout Pyongyang.  Unfortunately visiting foreign friends were not invited to these events, and to keep us out of the way, western tourists, dignitaries, and cultural delegations were bused to the city outskirts and conveniently sequestered at a park in the Mangyongdae district.  To keep everyone entertained, folk games and competitions (tug of war, three legged race, ect) had been arranged for the visiting cultural delegations.  Having traveled so far, and with expectations of seeing military parades, many of the tourists did not appreciate the situation – watching Eastern European and Russian delegations bob for apples was a big disappointment for most, but I really enjoyed the experience – not the international folk competitions, but all the interactions I had with the North Korean children who were at the event and enjoying themselves in such a relaxed atmosphere.  On arrival, little girls in traditional chosŏn-ot dresses grabbed us by the hand and led us into the park (they were fascinated with our bellies – notice the pokes!).  Hanging out, dancing, playing, and taking photographs with the North Korean children who were participating in the cultural dance performances made this event a cherished experience from the trip.

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

Photos by Joseph A Ferris III


On the Road in North Korea – Journey to Nampo at Night

Youth Hero Highway North Korea

Southbound to Nampo on the 10 lane Youth Hero Highway.

Nampo at Night, North Korea

Navigating small country roads on the way to the Nampo hot spring hotel.


North Korean Hairstyling

North Korean beauty and fashion has been in the news lately, apparently the western educated new young leader Kim Jung-un has recently allowed women to wear earrings, platform heels, and pants in an effort to maintain popularity with the nation’s youth.

In a somewhat related article koreaBANG examines the North Korean hairstyling industry. My friends over at The North Korean Blog were stuck by the methods used by the state to select and nurture young candidates for careers in the hairdressing industry, and how it relates to insights we gleaned about the North Koran comedy profession:

In order to obtain the qualifications to become a hairdresser, those who receive recommendations as middle school graduates or from other workplaces are trained through education at a hairdressing or beauty school in each town or district more than once per year, and in September of every year they even hold a competition for the north’s most skilled beauty salon, ‘Nationwide Hairdressers’ and Beauticians’ Competition’ in Pyongyang.

The koreaBANG article had me reminiscing about the afternoon we shared at the Hamhung flower park and pavilion along with couples on their wedding day. Deemed an auspicious day for tying the knot, the park was filled with newlywed couples having their formal pictures taken. Many of the women were dressed in their finest chosŏn-ot and had their hair done up in elaborate, yet tasteful, styles. We were more than welcome to take pictures of the couples and our presence actually created a bit of a sensation, North Korean wedding photographers snuck around to try to candidly fit us in their shots, and a few families actually thrust flowers in our hands and had us pose with the newlyweds!

Brides and their hairstyles in Hamhung flower park – all photos by Joseph A Ferris II

North Korean Wedding Party Hamhung

North Korean Wedding Party

North Korean Wedding Party

North Korean Wedding Party

Hamhung Bride North Korea

North Korean Bride

North Korean Wedding Party

North Korean Wedding Party

North Korean Wedding Party


Pyongyang Apartments

Pyongyang Apartment North Korea

A view of typical housing arrangements in Pyongyang, North Korea – photo by Joseph A Ferris III