Top North Korean scientists split the atom – photo by Joseph A Ferris III
My look behind the scenes of the DPRK tourist experience wouldn’t be complete without introducing the famous singing and dancing waitresses of the Pyongyang lamb BBQ restaurant. The girls are also available for catering; long time readers might have seen them cooking and dancing at the Mt Taesong Amusement park in my Ultimate Frisbee tournament post.
Cute, flirty, and always ready for a little dancing, relaxing with these girls is always a highlight of any trip to Pyongyang (at least for the guys) – they serve up one of Pyongyang’s tastiest lunches too!
Gymnasts, dancers, and little stars perform at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace:
The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace; a place for children of the privileged elite to spend time after school practicing sports, art, folk dance and music – and of course, show it all off with military like precision and forced smiles to groups of visiting foreign friends and tourists. More from this series linked below – all photos by Joseph A Ferris III
I am here to apologize for my lack attention to this blog as of late. I have been super busy with my duties as Chief Mate during short oceanographic research expeditions, hectic in port ship maintenance periods, and now working a crazy cruise on a full ship with over 50 scientists and crew – with that many people aboard available satellite internet bandwidth is in low supply making even the most general web surfing an agonizing chore.
I have also been busy planning a fall trip to Iran, Armenia, and Lebanon, along with two and a half weeks in Tuscany, Sicily, and Malta with my family.
Since I have been too busy to get any serious writing done (relatively recent picture posts don’t count), please let me at least pass along a DPRK post by my friend Joshua Spodek: North Korean Children’s Nearly Unbelievable Performances – insights on children’s performances at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace.
A young lady dances at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace – this photo got me an honorable mention by the moderator of the Lonely Planet Flickr Photo Challenge.
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.
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.
The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace, a place for the children of the privileged elite to spend time after school practicing sports, art, folk dance and music – and of course, show it all off with military like precision and forced smiles to groups of visiting foreign friends and tourists.
The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace is the largest of the many palaces in North Korea dedicated to Children’s after school activities. The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace has 120 rooms, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, and a 2000 seats theater. The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace is not to be confused with the Pyongyang Children’s Palace situated in the north of the Kim Il Sung Square and founded in 1963 – where I visited and saw a children’s performance last year.
A young girl opens a show for tourists and dignitaries at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace. This was a special performance to commemorate the Day of the Sun, the 100th birthday of ‘eternal president’ Kim Il-sung. Many more pics from this performance to come!
- Back from the DPRK, North Korea! (americaninnorthkorea.com)
Young North Korean maidens dancing in an orchard……
and then the nightmare begins!
North Korean girls perform mass gymnastics at the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang, North Korea.
- Young Gymnasts of the Arirang Mass Games (josephferrispics.wordpress.com)
- Arirang Mass Games (josephferrispics.wordpress.com)
- The Arirang Festival Mass Games (americaninnorthkorea.com)
- The First Podcast From Inside North Korea (americaninnorthkorea.com)
- Eric Lafforgue’s North Korea (americaninnorthkorea.com)
Photo series of performances from the Pyongyang Children’s Palace, DPRK, North Korea.
The Pyongyang Children’s Palace, a place for the children of the privileged elite to spend time after school practicing sports, art, folk dance and music – and of course, show it all off with military like precision and forced smiles to groups of visiting foreign friends and tourists.
A young girl performs a North Korean folk dance at the Pyongyang Children’s Palace.
Thanks for my first 1,000 hits! Above is a satire clip of the Pyongyang traffic girls.
- Pyongyang Traffic Girls (americaninnorthkorea.com)
Just a tiny hint of a smile…………before being told “no more pictures!”
It’s sad to say, but yes, I can confirm the rumors – electric traffic lights have been recently installed in Pyongyang, and with this bold step into advanced technology, regrettably the era of the beloved intuition of the famous Pyongyang traffic girl is coming to an end. Legions of cute traffic girls have been retired – who will man the intersections of desolate streets? Who will perform a robotic dance of traffic instruction while ignoring the fact there is no traffic to actually instruct? Is this march of progress a worthy substitute for cute girls with pouty expressions and sexy uniforms?
All is not lost gentleman! Some of the traffic girls have been retained to render emergency services during the frequent power outages. Others can still be seen directing traffic at construction sites, manning cross walks at busy areas, and some work manually controlling the traffic lights near one of the tourist hotels.
By Contributing Writer Gabriel Mizrahi
Imagine the sight of one-hundred thousand humans executing the world’s most impeccable live performance. This is the Arirang Festival, also known as the Mass Games, dubbed the greatest acrobatic spectacle on earth.
Arirang Mass Games – photo by Joseph Ferris
To the haunting chants of Korean folk music, an orgy of color and music explodes on the field. Baton-wielding military jackets parade in honor of the Dear Leader. Tiny gymnasts in blue uniforms uniforms flip and twirl with cautious grace. Tae Kwon Do athletes perform a complex series of kicks and punches. In the other half of the stadium seats, 20,000 students manipulate colored flipboards that magically shape-shift into pictures of the mythical countryside and portraits of the Great Leader in mind-blowing detail. All the while, the haunting tones of “Arirang” echo in the May Day Stadium, telling the story of a Romeo and Juliet tragedy that doubles as an allegory for the separation of North and South Korea…………Continue reading Arirang Festival Mass Games at The North Korea Blog
Ladies dancing with ladies in Pyongyang, North Korea. Sources informed us that all the men were out building houses in the countryside to help meet some grand initiative deadline that the government had set and was woefully behind on.
A North Korean mass dance is staged to provide wholesome fun and traditional entertainment for it’s citizens. If your housing political network has arranged a mass dance than attendance is mandatory – unless of course you are out building houses in the countryside. We were the only men in attendance and to the quiet amusement/embarrassment of the North Korean ladies we actually partnered up and participated.
Black and white mass dancing pictures below.
- Ladies in Formation – North Korean Marching Practice (americaninnorthkorea.com)
Yesterday’s most viewed North Korea pic from my Flickr account – ladies dancing with ladies at a mass dance in Pyongyang, North Korea. Sources informed us that all the men were out building houses in the countryside to help meet some grand initiative deadline that the government had set and was woefully behind on. We were also told that this same initiative was requiring all the university students to work instead of attending classes for the year.
A North Korean mass dance is staged to provide wholesome fun and traditional entertainment for it’s citizens. If your housing political network has arranged a mass dance than attendance is mandatory – unless of course you are out building houses in the countryside. We were the only men in attendance and to the quiet amusement/embarrassment of the North Korean ladies we actually partnered up and participated . More mass dancing pictures below.
100,000 person synchronized Arirang Mass Games performance at the Rŭngrado May First Stadium, Pyongyang, DPRK, North Korea.
All over the capital, the Arirang adverts (« Grand mass gymnastic and artistic performance », « Welcome to Pyongyang » and so on) warn the profane…Between August and October, takes place one of the biggest and most impressive performances in the world. The tone is set : even the Beijing Olympics ceremony can’t compete with the mass games organized by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The show is held several times a week and welcomes tourists from all over the World, including the US, in one of the most isolated and despised country on earth. The well-called « mass games » are designed to emphasize group dynamics rather than individual performances as the supreme emblem of communism. Prepared by hundred of thousands performers all along the year, after their classes for the youngest of them, they are entirely dedicated to the NK’s leader Kim Jong Il and his deceased father Kim Il Sung, considered as the « Eternal president » and « sun of the 21st century »……...Read more at Eric Lafforgue’s Flickr
- Kim Jong-il reveals fondness for dolphins and fancy dogs (telegraph.co.uk)