Podcast

Spring 2013 North Korea Podcast

Soju at Mini Pyongyang Folk Park

Soju at the Mini Pyongyang Folk Park.

Jordan Harbinger, Captain Joe (Sailor Joe got promoted) and some AoC alumni trekked it out to North Korea in the middle of the highest point of tension between North Korea and the rest of the world. Here’s an inside look at the country from us while we were there.


North Korea Podcast Round 2

Jordan Harbinger and Cap’n Joe went BACK to North Korea in 2012 with a whole new group of awesome folks crazy enough to join them.

Checkout the podcast we recorded from inside North Korea during the 2012 celebratory week of Kim Il-sung’s 100th birthday anniversary.

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

North Koreans celebrate Kim Il-sung’s 100th birthday anniversary in Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung Square - photo by Joseph A Ferris III


Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun

Having been closed since the December 2011 death of Kim Jong-il, the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun has recently reopened, and along with refurbishment and new displays, the bodies of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il are now available for viewing.

Outside Kumsusan Palace

North Koreans outside the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.

My 2011 visit to the mausoleum was the most surreal thing I have ever done. There is a deliberate awe inspiring buildup factored into the paying of respects at the body of Kim Il-sung. On entering the complex one is subjected to multiple security checks, cameras are confiscated, cloth booties are issued to be worn over the shoes, and you are forced to ride kilometers of moving walkways into the marble encased heart of the complex. From there you are marched around in groups, disorientatingly led from room to room, and forced to bow to various Kim Il-sung statues, all the while listing to an audio account of how the laws of nature were broken on the day of Kim Il-sung’s passing – upon his death the people cried with such emotion that their tears crystallized into diamonds in the pavement.

Before entering the holy of holies for the finale of bowing to the body of Kim Il-sung (all visitors will be expected to bow as a sign of respect – to go this far and not do so would cause a MARJOR incident), everyone must pass a through a bank ultra industrial sized air blowers, removing all traces of lint or dust to ensure no possibility of contamination. You will be expected to bow three times, once at Kim Il-sung’s feet, and on his right and left side. Authorities take your picture as you bow – the perfect little memento for your permanent secret record and always available for review by authorities if questions concerning your respect for the Eternal President become an issue.

If you can imagine how surreal all of this is for visiting foreign tourists, think about how overpowering the experience must be for a North Korean visiting for his first time from the provinces. A visit to Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun is the ultimate in propaganda showmanship; there is no other place or experience like it in the world.

I assume most of the procedures described above will continue with only slight changes to accommodate the paying of respects at the body of Kim Jong il (it is reported that he is placed at rest in a glass display next to his father). Viewing of newly created displays showing Kim Jong-il’s yacht, his medals and awards, and even the train car he died in will also be include in the visit.

Kumsusan Mausoleum

North Koreans outside the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.

Girl with Flowers in Pyongyang

A flower girl at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.

Tourist trips don’t start up again until mid January, until then I will be eagerly awaiting the firsthand accounts of those who make the first visit to the newly opened mausoleum. Sunday morning visits to the mausoleum have already been included in the schedules for my two custom spring trips.

For insights and observations recorded from inside the DPRK, including the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun, check out our 2011 podcast. The North Korean Economy Watch also has an interesting look at the odd history of communist leader preservation.


The First Podcast From Inside North Korea

In Aug. 2011 Jordan Harbinger, Neil Strauss, Gabriel Mizrahi, and Joseph A Ferris III (me), recorded the first podcast ever from inside North Korea- check it out here! Then hear our reflections upon returning to the States – except for myself, I returned to Taiwan.

Mass Game Sexy Soldiers - North Korea

Arirang Mass Games, Pyongyang, DPRK, North Korea.


Tourism in North Korea: A Special Feature

A North Korea tourism podcast by Korean Kontext

Ever wondered why someone might be motivated to spend their summer vacation in the DPRK, or interested to learn about the guides that accompany visitors during a stay in North Korea? Perhaps you’d like to know more about the legalities of visiting Mount Kumgang, a resort originally developed by South Korea’s Hyundai Asan, expropriated by DPRK authorities earlier this year. If so, then this special-length podcast is definitely for you!

Children of North Korea

Young children wave hello from North Korea – photo by Joseph A Ferris III