Posts tagged “Amusement park

Return to the Kaeson Youth Park Fun Fair

In the Spring of 2012 I made a return trip to Pyongyang’s Kaeson Youth Park fun fair ; chilly nighttime weather meant less crowds and interactions with locals than on my first visit, but the experience was enjoyable  nonetheless.

I really only have new 2012 photos to add – I’m going to let my cometary from my 2011 visit tell the story.

Local North Koreans would wait hundreds in line for theses new modern rides. As visitors we paid in hard currency at a rate 35 x what the locals paid, at that price we got the privilege of jumping line and holding up the locals as we enjoyed as many repeat rides on the amusements as we wanted. We were told by our minders that the rides had all come from Italy – they were new and modern, and included old favorites such as bumper cars and the pirate ship swing ride, and new favorites like a lay down style roller coaster and the “Vominator”.

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korean locals enjoy imported fun fair rides.

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korean locals enjoy imported fun fair rides.

Pyongyang Kaeson Fun Fair

A nice view of the lay down roller coaster.

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

A quiet chilly spring night at the fun fair.

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

Bumper cars!

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

Bumper cars!

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

Old racing video game.

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

Coin op skeet shoot game.

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korean boy and his mom in charge of an old video game.

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korean boy in charge of an old video game.

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

Old racing video game.

Kaeson Fun Fair Pyongyang, North Korea

Old racing video game.

North Korean Fun Fair Food Stand

The burrito stand attendant.

In the end our Kaeson Youth Park Fun Fair escort served our group up a bill of over one hundred Euros. As I had seen elsewhere in North Korea, when hard currency is involved a fist full of dollars will get the job done, and our escort gladly accepted what we had with a smile. We never got to visit any of the old and decrepit fun fairs during our visit to North Korea. Some of the old fairs, such as the Mangyongdae, have games that feature the classic old US anti imperialist propaganda. Times are a changing and the most bizarre thing I saw at the new Kaeson Youth Park Fun Fair were booths serving up Mexican burritos.

The Kaeson fun fair was responsible for the creation of this blog – more accurately the use of my fun fair pictures under the creative commons license  in a sensationalized and entirely misinformed viral photo essay got me so upset that I decided to blog as accurate a portrayal of the North Korean tourist experience as honestly as I could.  I am truly amazed at how far this journey has taken me!


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


Last Chance to see the Arirang Mass Games?

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

2011 Arirang Mass Games – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

From my contacts at Koryo Tours:  Word from our sources in Pyongyang is that the Arirang Mass Games of 2012 will be the last – so we suggest you sign up now to ensure that you can see this remarkable event while it is still running.

While mass games have been performed since the 1940s in the DPRK the Arirang show is the largest and most impressive they have ever produced.  Born in 2002, since 2007 it has been an annual event, but 2012 will be Arirang’s 10th anniversary, and it seems the powers that be have decided to close the curtain.  As for the reason, our Korean partners suggest that the narrative needs to change with the times.  Combining dance, gymnastics, propaganda, politics, music, and even unicycling, this spectacular performance chronicles the struggles of the Korean people suffering under Japanese occupation, moving into the independent era and building a modern country – basically the period linked to the first 100 years since the birth of North Korea’s Eternal President Kim Il Sung.

However, since 2013 marks the 65th anniversary of the foundation of the republic (Sept 9th) as well as the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the Korean War (July 27th), organizers are reportedly planning a whole new performance for next year.

So if you haven’t seen Arirang yet, or if you want to see it one last time, this is your chance.  Don’t miss out on the biggest performance in the world – an event that makes any Olympic opening ceremony look like a school play!  Staged at the massive May Day stadium in Pyongyang, Arirang is running from August 1st to September 9th, 2012, but as with the last few years we do expect an extension, perhaps as far as the middle of October (usually it finally ends around Oct 17th).

Don’t miss the Arirang Mass Games!  Tell us a little about yourself, and I will hook you up with a great DPRK travel deal for visiting!


April 12th 2011 North Korea Trip

I’m looking for a few good people to help fill a VIP custom trip to North Korea.  This is the big one, April 15th is the 100th birthday of the Eternal President Kim Il Sung, and I plan to be there for all the celebrations!  Also included on the trip will be first time ever visits to heavy industry sites, and to Pujon, a mysterious location deep in the interior of the country.

We are looking at around 2,000 Euro for the trip + China double entry visa + flight to Beijing.  You will be traveling with an exclusive group, so contact me so I can get to know you (so I can screen you) – visas into the country will be tight at this time, so we need to have applications in by Jan.

Check out the proposed itinerary below:

Children of North Korea

Hello from North Korea!

Thurs 12th April

Flight to Pyongyang (departs Beijing Airport Terminal 2) 14:00. Arrive Pyongyang, meet guides, transfer to hotel via Arch of Triumph. Dinner at hotel. Potonggang Hotel, Pyongyang.

Fri 13th

Pyongyang Metro (6 stations), Mansudae Art Studio, Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, Drive to Nampo, Chollima Steel Works, Tae’an Heavy Machine Tool Complex, Tae’an Glass Factory. Hot Spa Resort, Nampo.

Sat 14th

West Sea Barrage, Nampo Taekwondo School, return to Pyongyang via Mt Ryonggak for picnic lunch, Shooting Range, Juche Tower, Pyongyang Film Studios, Paradise Department Store and Microbrewery, Kaeson funfair after dinner. Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang.

Sun 15th
100th birthday of President Kim Il Sung: Exact nature of events to be confirmed but should include visit to Kumsusan Memorial Palace (Mausoleum of President), Kimilsungia Flower Exhibition, Mansudae Grand Monument, Mangyongdae Funfair, walk in Moranbong Park (where locals go to enjoy their day off), expected mass dance, other celebratory events, MASS GAMES.

Arirang Mass Games - North Korea

Aririang Mass Games

Mon 16th

Drive to Wonsan (4 hrs with breaks), lunch at Dongmyong Hotel. Songdowon Schoolchildren’s Camp, walk in central square and around docks. Evening walk along pier (EUR 1 entry). Dongmyong Hotel, Wonsan.

Tues 17th

Drive to Hamhung (approx 3 hours) via Wonsan Agricultural University and Tongbong Cooperative Farm, lunch in Hamhung, Kim Il Sung Statue and central park, Native House of Ri Song Gye, drive past Hungnam Fertiliser Factory and Vinalon Factory (not possible to visit but can ask driver to go slowly and take photos from bus), relaxing on beach at Majon Guesthouse. Majon Guesthouse.

Weds 18th

Drive to Pujon county deep in the North Korean interior, see stunning mountain scenery and the rural way of life, picnic lunch. Ascend to the top of North Korea’s second highest mountains for an unparalleled view of somewhere that nobody you know has ever laid eyes on, See the spectacular Stone River where thousands of giant boulders form a cascade down the hillside. DPRK’s famous ‘slogan trees’ can also be seen here. Return to Hamhung. Sinhungsan Hotel, Hamhung.

Thurs 19th

Very early departure to return to Pyongyang. Arrive Pyongyang late afternoon, School Children’s Palace Tour and performance (if time allows). Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang.

Fri 20th

Drive to Mt Myohyang (2 hrs), International Friendship Exhibition, Pohyon Buddhist Temple, walking in area (can have picnic lunch – for surcharges see below – or just lunch in hotel) Return to Pyongyang, Museum of Metro Construction, Farewell dinner at Duck BBQ restaurant. Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang.

North Korean Guide Ms Yu and Gabriel at the BBQ Duck Restaurant

Farewell dinner at Duck BBQ restaurant

Sat 21st
Transfer to airport for flight JS151 to Beijing. 08:55 departure, arrive Beijing approx 10:00. End of tour.


Pyongyang Pop Gun

Back in the old days, North Korean citizens could vent their hate, frustrations, and propaganda whipped national fervor, by heading down to the local fun fair and testing their aim with a pop gun against posters and painting of the US boogieman soldiers and servicemen.   These days the anti US propaganda posters and paintings have all been taken down (at least where foreign tourists venture), but North Korean locals still enjoy going out to practice their aim at their local fun fair.

Pyongyang Pop Gun

Pyongyang Pop Gun


U.S. Imperialists Visit the Pyongyang Fun Fair

Pics from our visit to the new Kaeson Youth Park Fun Fair (the old Mangyongdae Fun Fair is closed – or looks like it is) on our Aug 2011 trip to North Korea.

Local North Koreans would wait hundreds in line for theses new modern rides.   As visitors we paid in hard currency at a rate 35 x what the locals paid, at that price we got the privilege of jumping line and holding up the locals as we enjoyed as many repeat rides on the amusements as we wanted.  We were told by our minders that the rides had all come from Italy – they were new and modern, and included old favorites such as bumper cars and the pirate ship swing ride, and new favorites like a lay down style roller coaster and the “vominator”.

North Korean Pyongyang Fun Fair

Soldiers on rides at the new fun fair amusement park in Pyongyang, DPRK, North Korea.

North Korean Soldiers and the Pirate Ship

North Korean soldiers and the pirate ship.

One of our favorite rides was the pirate ship swing.  On this ride we got to sit snuggled up with random locals and shared laughter, looks of delight, amusement, and even terror with them.

North Korea Fun Fair

North Korean man and child play a round on the bumper cars, Pyongyang, DPRK, North Korea.

Another one of our favorite amusements was the bumper cars.  On this amusement we got to compete with locals, banging cars around with kids, dads, and even soldiers.

Bumper Cars - North Korea

Bumper Cars

We certainly didn’t budget enough time for the Fun Fair.  We were all exhausted from the day’s activities and had told our guides and minders that a 1/2 hour look around should do us – but two hours later and after multiple rounds on the amusements we were pressed for time.  I don’t think any of us had realized how much of a blast the Fun Fair would be.  I had herd about the test of strength games in the arcade room and although it was time for us to go back to the hotel I made sure we made a stop on the way out.

North Korean Arm Wrestling Machine

At one Euro per round I went arm to arm against the North Korean strong man at the Pyongyang Fun Fair.  The game room also had an assortment of video games from the late 90s.

North Korean Test of Strength

Two North Korean children hang off the horns of the test of strength bull.

North Korea Fun Fair Game Arcade

North Korean woman test their aim on an old 90′s arcade shooter game.

In the end our Kaeson Youth Park Fun Fair escort served our group up a bill of over one hundred Euros.  As I had seen elsewhere in North Korea, when hard currency is involved a fist full of dollars will get the job done, and our escort gladly accepted what we had with a smile. We never got to visit any of the old and decrepit fun fairs during our visit to North Korea.  Some of the old fairs, such as the Mangyongdae, have games that feature the classic old US anti imperialist propaganda.  Times are a changing and  the most bizarre thing I saw at the new Kaeson Youth Park Fun Fair were booths serving up Mexican burritos.

Check out all my North Korea pics at my Flickr Photostream