Posts tagged “entertainment

Emperor Hotel And Casino Room Rates

DSC09972

Room rates at the Emperor Hotel and Casino in Rason SEZ, North Korea. 780 RMB = 128 USD for the cheapest room, 1680 RMB = 276 USD for their top suite.

Rason, North Korea Emperor Hotel and Casino

Pipi Island and the Emperor Hotel and Casino – a custom gambling trip could easily be arranged if anyone is interested!


New Year’s Party Tour

image

I will be heading into DPRK to guide the first ever New Year’s party tour.  This is the first ever year that tourists have been allowed into the country at this time.

Bundle up, join the fun, and be with us for history in the making!

NEW YEAR ULTRA BUDGET PARTY TOUR

Group A Dates: December 31 – January 2 2013
Group A Price: 395 Euros

NEW YEAR PARTY TOUR

December 30 – January 5 2013
Price: 895 Euros


Minnie Mouse In North Korea

image

image

Minnie Mouse at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace.


Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea – Book Review

Cover_of_Pyongyang_by_Guy_Delisle

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

I have never been a fan of graphic novels, but recently I read and enjoyed Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea.

Guy Delisle worked in Pyongyang as a project manager for a French animation company in the early 2000’s. The outsourced animation projects he oversaw seemed to run themselves, and finding himself without much to do, Guy busied himself by sketching scenes of Pyongyang and documenting instances of culture shock he encountered.

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea is witty, and fair (I believe) to what the experience must have been like as an expat there in the early 2000’s. His portrayal of Pyongyang’s unique buildings and architecture is spot on, and I found myself reminiscing over the many little details of Pyongyang he sketched: 50’s era Hungarian buses with star embalms, each star indicating 5,000 accident free driving miles, ladies of Pyongyang wearing socks hiked up over their nylons, and fly swatting waitresses. Even the lonely (and endangered – so I’m told) turtle in the giant fish tank at the Yanggakdo Hotel bar is a recurring character.

For North Korea watchers not fortunate to have visited the country, perhaps the most useful sketches from Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea are of Guy’s visit to the International Friendship Exhibition, a site where interior photography is prohibited.

It’s a shame Guy never visited the Kumsusan Memorial Palace and Mausoleum; his sketches would have been quite valuable as interior photography is also prohibited there.

For fans of graphic novels, and for those waiting to properly fill out their North Korean book collection, I certainly suggest picking up Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea.


International Friendship Exhibition Crocodile Bar Set

DSC03528

Guard with silver plated AK-47 protects the entrance to the International Friendship Exhibition.

Holding all the gifts ever received by leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the two massive mountain bunker palaces comprising the Myohyang-san International Friendship Exhibition are deservedly one of North Korea’s top sites.

Some of the gifts are notorious: bullet-proof cars from Stalin, a Kim Il Sung life size wax statue (that you are expected to bow to) from the Chinese, a basketball signed by Michael Jordan from former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Other gifts are more mundane: medals and plaques from communist friendship societies, nicknacks from diplomats, and TVs, golf bags, and living room sets from various Asian businessmen.

Humble or grand, the gifts on display serve as physical examples of world’s love and admiration for the deceased North Korean leaders – gifts to Mother Kim Jong Suk and Marshall Kim Jong Un are also housed there.

The International Friendship Exhibition holds an astonishing estimated 275,000 gifts – an exact count is digitally displayed in the first hall.  Visitors are required to wear cloth booties to prevent dirt from being tracked into the sacred halls as they view the gifts. There is so much to see that groups get to choose continents – I recommend seeing the gifts from Africa and Asia.

Touring the numerous halls of the International Friendship Exhibition is tiring, fortunately there is a a resting pavilion and cafe overlooking a scenic valley for visitors to enjoy at the end of their tour.

DSC01289

KITC guide Miss Han and a local guide having a rest at the viewing pavilion.

Most North Koreans will make at least one pilgrimage during their lifetimes to view the treasures on display at the International Friendship Exhibition. Sacred Mount Paektu, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun (mausoleum of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il ),and the capital city of Pyongyang are the other great domestic North Korean pilgrimage sites.

Nicaragua's Sandinista Stuffed Crocodile Gift to Kim Il Sung

Photography inside the International Friendship Exhibition is strictly forbidden (readers will have to use their imagination), but I was lucky enough to find a rare stamp of my favorite gift, the stuffed crocodile bar set given by the Nicaraguan Sandinista communists, which should give you an insight into the treasures the International Friendship Exhibition safeguards.


The Flat Stanley Project Goes to North Korea

stanleyavatar.php

Young Pioneer Stanley

I’m excited to announce that this Fall I will be the first person to bring the Flat Stanley Project to North Korea!

Originating from the Flat Stanley book series, Flat Stanley is flattened to half an inch thick when a bulletin board falls on him in the first book.  Stanley takes advantage of his new dimensions by traveling by air mail and engaging in adventures around the world.

The books have developed into the Flat Stanley Project, with schoolchildren creating their own Flat Stanley characters and mailing them to hosts around the world.

The basic principle of The Flat Stanley Project is to connect your child, student or classroom with other children or classrooms participating in the Project by sending out “flat” visitors, created by the children, through the mail (or digitally, with The Flat Stanley app). Kids then talk about, track, and write about their flat character’s journey and adventures. Although similar to a pen-pal activity, Flat Stanley is actually much more enriching-students don’t have to wonder where to begin or what to write about. The sender and the recipient already have a mutual friend, Flat Stanley. Writing and learning becomes easier, flows naturally, and tends to be more creative. This is what teachers call an “authentic” literacy project, in that kids are inspired to write of their own passion and excitement about the project, and given the freedom to write about many things through the rubric of the Flat Stanley character.

I love geography education and am very excited to take part in this project – especially since I will have the Young Pioneer Tour’s company smart phone and North Korean 3G access to document everything in real time.

If you would like to follow my Young Pioneer Stanley, or the several Flat Stanley charterers I’m bringing to North Korea, please join the Flat Stanley website or mobile app, and search for me under the user name josephferris76.

thumbnail.php

Young Pioneer Flat Stanley starting his journey on the Research Vessel Melville.


Pyongyang Traffic Girls – Free Photo Book

Traffic

I made a PDF photo book about the Pyongyang traffic girls.

Right click and save to download for free – looks great when viewed on an iPad!


Rungra Island Funfair

Most warmer month DPRK tour itineraries include a visit Pyongyang’s Kaeson Fun Fair – it has the biggest roller coasters and is centrally located next to the Arch of Triumph.  But other options for those looking for their adrenalin fix exist; next to May Day Stadium on Rungra Island  is the newly constructed Rungra Island Funfair and Pleasure Park.  The sprawling 100 hector complex actually comprises two separate amusement parks and a dolphinarium – unfortunately we missed the dolphin show on my visit.  The Kaeson Fun Fair may have the blockbuster rides, but the amusements at the Rungra Island Funfair are more surreal; check out the crazy mouse roller coaster and the Mexican sombrero ride in the pictures below:

Rungra Island Funfair Pyongyang

Rungra Island Funfair Pyongyang

Rungra Island Funfair Pyongyang

Rungra Island Funfair Pyongyang

Rungra Island Funfair Pyongyang

Rungra Island Funfair Pyongyang

Rungra Island Funfair Pyongyang

Rungra Island Funfair Pyongyang

Rungra Island Funfair Pyongyang

Rungra Island Funfair Pyongyang

Photos by Joseph A Ferris III


Humvees, Pawn Shops, and 5 Star Bathrooms – North Korea’s Surreal Rason Casino

Rason, North Korea Emperor Hotel and Casino

No visit to Rason, North Korea would be complete (at least for those interested in business or entertainment) without a stop at the Hong Kong investor owned Emperor Hotel and Casino. The second casino in North Korea (the original being a small dodgy room in the Yanggakdo International Hotel basement), the Emperor Hotel and Casino is located on a lonely stretch of coast with farmers and oxen tilling fields right up to the empty parking lots.

The lobby is spotless, the restaurant promising (but empty), and the signs politely remind Chinese gamblers not to spit. Visitors can only gamble if they exchange a minimum of 500 dollars into chips – we didn’t, so we couldn’t visit the gaming floor. Neither did we visit the dodgy Chinese massage parlor, but as per our guide’s proud recommendation, we did use the county’s only 5 star bathroom.

The casino has a fleet of Humvee vehicles reportedly confiscated from Chinese mafia gamblers who lost millions of dollars and refused to pay their debt. They left the Humvees instead, which are now used to shuttle patrons down from the Chinese border – they must have been on a run, we searched for the Humvees but the casino motor pool was empty.

And if this wasn’t all surreal enough, there is even an associated pawn shop for unlucky gamblers located on the road leading to the casino!

More pics of the Emperor Hotel and Casino:

Rason, North Korea Emperor Hotel and Casino

Rason, North Korea Emperor Hotel and Casino

Rason, North Korea Emperor Hotel and Casino

Rason, North Korea Emperor Hotel and Casino

Rason, North Korea Emperor Hotel and Casino

Rason, North Korea Emperor Hotel and Casino

Dodgy Chinese massage!

Photos by Joseph A Ferris III


Pyongyang Traffic Girl Autograph

Friend and fellow Young Pioneer Tours guide, Chris White, had an epic encounter with a Pyongyang Traffic Girl last week in the DPRK:

9336_537859459602971_117316594_n

1005372_537859722936278_695576345_n

13585_537859859602931_232740028_n

1173712_537859929602924_198805497_n

Pics from Young Pioneer Tour’s Facebook page  – give the page a like and suggest to your friends for your chance to win our yearly free DPRK trip giveaway contest!


2014 Young Pioneer DPRK Tours

Looking forward to the release of our 2014 DPRK lineup:

By August 2nd YPT will be launching our DPRK 2014 program, which whilst having some similar bits to 2013, will have a few cool extras thrown in. We will also once again be offering massive discounts to early bookers.

Musk Deer Mountian North Korea

A guide picks azaleas on Musk Dear Mountain in Rason, North Korea – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

I have a quiet autumn for DPRK trips; a private Rason trip is currently the only thing on my schedule for North Korea.  In November I will helping Gareth Johnson, YPT founder, on the month long Eurasian Adventure Tour, and in December I plan to head down to Africa to scout out Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somaliland for a spring Young Pioneer Tours trip that I plan to guide in that region.  My hope is to work a long winter and spring on my ship and have the 2014 summer free to guide during the busy DPRK season – with luck I will score the Mt. Baekdu trip!

In between these tours you can look for me at our newly acquired North Korean theme bar in Yangshuo, China, where I will be serving beers and selling trips this October.

Discounts at the DMZ Bar when you book a YPT Tour

The bar is staffed at all times by at least one, but oftentimes a few YPT full time guides/tour organizers, with our being that it can be a great place in the sun to sit, enjoy a beer, and talk about all things tour related with an expert about the DPRK, and all of the other great places we go to with YPT. Essentially it is as much a branch office as it is a bar, with it being fully fitted with books and brochures about the country as well as our experts.

Therefore to add a little spice to the place we are offering a 5% discount on all tours booked, and where the cash deposit has been paid at the bar. Very simple, you make the effort to come to the bar, or by even luckier chance happen to be going through there anyway, and YPT give you a sexy little discount, and you never know, you might actually enjoy yourselves!

Give the DMZ Bar a like on its Facebook page!


Chongjin Kindergarten Performance

With all the colors and adorable costumes, the Chongjin City kindergarten performance is my favorite student’s show in North Korea.  Below are photos from my April 2013 Chongjin kindergarten visit:

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Kindergarten Performance Chongjin, North Korea

Photos by Joseph A Ferris III


The FBI in North Korea

DSC05278

Shhhhh, dont tell, but the FBI has infiltrated North Korea!

Actually it’s just a Chinese knockoff hat worn by a North Korean at the Mt. Chilbo Home Stay Village. The man had no idea what the hat signified and seemed bewildered by all the attention and requests for photos – and just to be clear, he was wearing the hat, we didn’t put it on him.


Pyongyang Military Circus Trapeze

DSC03333

A trapeze artist prepares for the Pyongyang Military Circus finale – the inspiration for the film Comrade Kim Goes Flying?

Comrade Kim Yong Mi is a North Korean coal miner. Her dream of becoming a trapeze artist is crushed by the arrogant trapeze star Pak Jang Phil who believes miners belong underground and not in the air.

My friends at the Koryo Group continue showing the film around the world at select film festivals.  Don’t miss it at the Sydney Film Festival, June 5th – 16th, and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, June 19th – 30th.

With all the action just a blur I put my camera down to concentrate on enjoying the show; readers will just have to be content with more pics of the finale setup:

Pyongyang Military Circus, North Korea

DSC03325

DSC03291

DSC03276

DSC03273

DSC03263

DSC03238

DSC03393

DSC03394


American G.I. Clown At The Pyongyang Military Circus

The Korean War era American G.I. clown is alive and well at the Pyongyang Military Circus.  Performed while the nets for the trapeze grand finale are being rigged, the skit always portrays the G.I. as the butt of jokes and as a helpless buffoon.  The skit changes with time, one past visitor reported seeing a performance where the G.I. repeatedly had his plate of dinner hidden on him by a cunning South Korean military cook.  The skit I watched had the G.I. beat up by a South Korean street bum with 4 legs.  Why 4 legs?  I assume the audience is meant to see the action via the perspective of the drunken American soldier, which of course is blurred, confused, and absolutely absurd.

DSC03183

DSC03204

DSC03194

American Soldier Clown at Pyongyang Military Circus

DSC03212

American Soldier Clown at Pyongyang Military Circus

DSC03231

American Soldier Clown at Pyongyang Military Circus

And no, this is not a real American G.I., but a North Korean soldier with a fake nose and a heavy makeup job.


Teletubbies in North Korea

Teletubby Cup on the North Korean DMZ

Teletubby coffee mug on the North side of the DMZ – you never know what you will find in North Korea!


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.


A Traffic Controller on Crossroads

A great film about my favorite ladies, A Traffic Controller on Crossroads is newly out with English subtitles on Youtube. In The DPRK the film is described as a romantic comedy, and while through a western perspective I found it neither, the film still provides a unique look into North Korean culture via their domestic film industry.


Moranbong Band

The Moranbong Band – Kim Jong-un’s hand picked all female band is currently all the rage in the DPRK. Check out the song Donsume starting 30:57 for the sexiest destruction of the USA imaginable.


‘Kim Jong-Ale’: North Korea’s surprising microbrewery culture explored

Taedonggang Craft Brewery Bar Pyongyang, North Korea

In my Kim Jong-il suit at the Taedonggang Craft Brewery Bar.

Wired.co.uk picked up my North Korean Craft Beer post and developed the story further. Check out this excellent article featuring Josh Thomas from my early April tour, as well as many of my pictures.


North Korean Craft Beer

On my March 30th- April 6th, 2013 trip I brought in Josh Thomas, a craft beer expert living and working as an expat in Hong Kong. This spring trip was customized for Josh’s Easter Holiday with a special itinerary designed around his passion, craft beer. After the trip I asked Josh to comment on his experiences with the North Korean brews he sampled, and the various venues we visited:

Yanggakdo Hotel Microbrewery

Josh Thomas and Ms Yu enjoy draft beers at the bar of the Yanggakdo Hotel Microbrewery.

You approached me to arrange a trip to DPRK with a focus on beer and nightlife. As a craft beer expert did the DPRK live up to your expectations?

It absolutely did! It actually far surpassed it. Like many things about North Korea, there wasn’t much information available about what the drinking culture was like there, but what I did know was that Koreans, North and South, love to socialize over alcohol and the rumor was that North Korean beer far surpassed the quality of South Korean beer. With the exception of a small number of American-style craft breweries in Seoul, this was 100% true! North Koreans do much more with much less and really seem to embrace the idea of experimenting with their brews. I fully believe that beer, being the one beverage found around the entire world, is a great unifier among all cultures. For me, as a home brewer and overall global beer nerd, I knew it would be one cultural aspect that I would share with the North Koreans. And it was true! Nothing was more special on this trip than the smiles shared over a beer, comparing and critiquing the beers, and talking about the differences between American beers and North Korean beers. There is no propaganda over beer, just real conversation, smiles, and drunken stumbles back to our respective rooms. And yes, North Koreans get hung over too.

We visited a lot of venues and drank a lot of beer on the trip, where were your favorites and why?

The best beers we sampled were found at the Paradise Microbrewery. Quite an interesting find in North Korea, it seems to operate as a highly independent brewing company, outside the confines of the state brewing Taedonggang Brewery. Unfortunately the brewer was not around when we visited, and the bartenders knew very little about beer and wouldn’t let us visit the back where the beer is made, but whoever made the beer seemed highly knowledgeable about beer. In my opinion the Paradise Pale Ale was the best beer of the trip!

Paradise Microbrewery Pyongyang

Beers on tap at the Paradise Microbrewery bar.

Without a doubt the best venue was Yanggakdo Hotel. Not necessarily because they were my favorite beer we sampled, but because I was able to meet the brewer and even visit the microbrewery where they made the beers. It was a bit sad to see eight 25 gallon fomenters when there was no chance of them using more than one at a time due to the famine, but the smile on the young lady brewmasters face when I told her that I thought she had the best job in North Korea was the most heartwarming moment of the trip for me.

Yanggakdo Hotel Microbrewery

Josh Thomas and Jordan Harbinger visit the Yanggakdo Hotel Microbrewery.

Tell me about the craft beer served and the venues at the Yanggakdo Hotel, the Paradise Micro Brewery, and Taedonggang Brewery Bar.

Beer in Asia, recently imported American-style craft breweries aside, is largely based on American-German style pale lagers. These beers, like Tsing Tao in China, OB in South Korea, and Asahi in Japan are roughly similar to the American-German pale lagers like Budweiser, Coors, and Miller. Fine for a hot day when you need a cold beverage, but not something I’d choose first – I said I’m a beer nerd, not a beer snob, I will drink a Tsing Tao on occasion, as I live in Hong Kong! I’d much rather enjoy a Harpoon IPA or Mikkeller Hop Bomb Challenge given the choice!

Interestingly enough, economic sanctions in DPRK have lead to an entirely different tradition of brewing, not found elsewhere in Asia. Electrical shortages, causing unexpected and spontaneous power outages, mean that the refrigeration required for lagers is simply impossible. Budweiser-style, largely tasteless, lagers such as is popular in South Korea (OB and Hite) simply cannot be brewed. As a result, North Korean beer is ironically a “steam beer”, the only type of beer invented in the United States. A “steam beer” (better known in the United States from the brand Anchor Steam) is simply a lager brewed at Ale temperatures giving increased flavor, a pronounced bitterness, and a greater body. Crazier still was their affinity for stouts and porters in the DPRK, serving us elegant Coffee Porters and Chocolate Stouts. Their own discovery and version of a Pale Ale was astounding considering the lack of formal brewing training available to the budding brewmasters. Speaking with one of these brewmasters at the Yanggakdo Hotel, I encouraged her to try brewing an American-style India Pale Ale, if she was able to get the hops imported. If I learned anything from the North Koreans, however, is that they make do with what they have. I’d love to try her result!

Taedonggang Craft Brewery Bar Pyongyang, North Korea

Taedonggang Craft Brewery Bar Pyongyang, North Korea.

Taedonggang Craft Brewery Bar Pyongyang, North Korea

Taedonggang Craft Brewery Bar Pyongyang, North Korea.

Taedonggang Craft Brewery Bar Pyongyang, North Korea

Taedonggang Craft Brewery Bar Pyongyang, North Korea.

Taedonggang Craft Brewery Bar Pyongyang, North Korea

Taedonggang Craft Brewery Bar Pyongyang, North Korea.

Tell me about your experiences in the more local venues?

Well I’m a bit of a cynic. Some of the local experiences I truly believe were local. Some of the experiences I think might have had some actors planted to stand between the tourists and the real locals. The diplomatic club and the clam bake in particular were great local experiences. It was amazing to see some Koreans finally ‘let their hair down’ so to speak, and stop being mascots for their country, and start being real people. Over the Nampo Hot Spring Hotel clam bake I got to know our bus driver, Mr Lee. It was over this meal, while he poured petrol over live clams, blowing out his bottle when it caught fire, and downing huge amounts of “Pyongyang Vodka”, a 40% alcohol form of Soju, that I really became friends with this quiet and unspoken man. He was unbelievably friendly and never stopped smiling and really seemed to love hanging out with us whenever he could. He, more than anyone else, became my true friend while in the country. What surprised me the most was that he quietly told me that he used to be a soldier in the North Korean People’s Army. Its hard to wrap your mind around, as an American, this short, quiet, and friendly man was once a soldier in the army we seem to most fear in the west.

What was your favorite experience of the trip that was not related to drinking?

Undoubtedly the petrol clambake. Part of traveling around the world for me is trying local foods. North Korea, in the midst of a famine, doesn’t necessarily have “local” foods that they would be comfortable offering to foreigners without being embarrassed. Much of our food was simply iconic Korean foods such as kimchee, banchans, and prawn pancakes. The petrol clambake, however, was fully North Korean. Like much I saw in North Korea, they used unconventional means to solve problems by themselves. No charcoal or wood to bake clams? No problem. Just douse them in gasoline! Most people would think they clams would come out tasting of fuel, but I’m happy to announce that they were actually delicious. Fresh, clean, and tasting of nothing but clam!

North Korean Petrol Gas Clam BBQ

Nampo Hot Spring Hotel petrol clam bake.

Would you go back? Suggest others to travel there?

I certainly would! Actually, I think the second trip would only be more fun than the first. Like anyone on their first trip to North Korea I was quite a bit scared going in. However, the nerves quickly dissipate when you meet your amazing guides and realize that you’re going to be just fine, but I can only imagine that a more relaxed mood going in will only enhance my second trip. I would highly advise anyone who can should organize their own trip and choose their own itinerary. To get the most out of a trip to North Korea, find an interest of your own that you can mirror in the North Koreans. They’re not the Taliban and they enjoy having a good time with any number of western things. If you’re a surfer, organize a surfing trip in North Korea. If you’re a chef, organize a local food tour. If you’re a cinema fanatic, get yourself into the Pyongyang International Film Festival! The options are literally endless and by organizing a tour that matches your own interests, you will get a greater insight into the culture and country.

American on the DMZ North Korea

Josh Thomas and a commander on the North Korea DMZ.


Pyongyang Folk Park

Ryugyong Hotel Model at Mini Pyongyang Folk Park

Can’t get enough of the surreal Ryugyong Hotel (AKA the “Hotel of Doom“)?

At the newly opened Pyongyang Folk Park you can get up close and personal with a scale model Ryugyong Hotel as well as Pyongyang’s other famous landmarks and monuments.

The Korean Central News Agency of DPRK describes the park:

The Pyongyang Folk Park vividly showing the long history and time-honored culture of the Korean people was built in the area of Mt. Taesong.

The park consists of the district for comprehensive history education, district for the display of historic relics, modern district, folk village district, folk playing district, park district of Mt. Paektu and Mt. Kumgang and the management and operation district. It is an open-air history museum where visitors can see and experience at first hand the good qualities of the Korean nation and the genuine socialist national culture developing day by day.

The construction of the park greatly helps the Korean people, including and school youth and children, inherit and glorify the excellent tradition and brilliant culture of the nation.

A visit to the Pyongyang Folk Park costs a steep 14 Euros – at that price it might not be of interest to all tourists (remember there are no ATMs to replenish your cash supply), but I thoroughly enjoyed the site.  In addition to the  surreal collection of scale models of Pyongyang’s monuments, the park boasts a Korean geisha house where visitors can enjoy a traditional music performance and are served soju by young ladies in period costumes.  We also stumbled upon a film set and posed for pictures with actors in an anti Japanese revolutionary movie in the traditional village section of the park.  The site is also a popular place for wedding photos, which of course we were invited to pose in.

Mini Pyongyang Folk Park

Model of Pyongyang’s Arche of Triumph and Mount Kumgang.

Mini Pyongyang Folk Park

Model of the Party Foundation Monument.

DSC02253

Soldier workers prep Mansudae Grand Monument.

DSC02181

Model of Juche Tower.

DSC02170

Models of Juche Tower and Arch of Triumph.

DSC02171

Models of Juche Tower and Arch of Triumph.

DSC02143

Model of Juche Tower.

Mini Pyongyang Folk Park

Music at the Korean geisha house.

Mini Pyongyang Folk Park

Music at the Korean geisha house.

Soju at Mini Pyongyang Folk Park

Soju at the Korean geisha house.

Soju at Mini Pyongyang Folk Park

Soju at the Korean geisha house.

Soju at Mini Pyongyang Folk Park

Korean geisha house.

North Korean Film Set

With North Korean actors on an Anti Japanese revolutionary film set at the Pyongyang Folk Park.

North Korean Film Set

North Korean actors on an Anti Japanese revolutionary film set at the Pyongyang Folk Park.

North Korean Film Set

North Korean actors on an Anti Japanese revolutionary film set at the Pyongyang Folk Park.

DSC02128

North Korean wedding party.

DSC02155

North Korean wedding party.

DSC02159

My tour group poses with a North Korean wedding party.

DSC02106

Bride and groom at the Pyongyang Folk Park.


Nampo Gasoline Clam BBQ

Clam BBQ cooked by a sprinkling of lighted gasoline in Nampo, North Korea – eat your heart out Anthony Bourdain!

North Korean Petrol Gas Clam BBQ

North Korean Petrol Gas Clam BBQ

North Korean Petrol Gas Clam BBQ

North Korean Petrol Gas Clam BBQ

North Korean Petrol Gas Clam BBQ

North Korean Petrol Gas Clam BBQ

North Korean Petrol Gas Clam BBQ

North Korean Petrol Gas Clam BBQ

The petrol clam BBQ is an activity I have always wanted to do but have had difficulty arranging until now.  During certain times of the year the water is too polluted to safely eat the clams.  The activity is also dependent on arriving early enough in Nampo to arrange a fresh batch of clams to be bought from the local fisherman.

Only the West Coast clams of Nampo can be eaten his way.  These clams don’t open up when cooked, allowing minimal gasoline to seep into the tasty bits.  To make sure everything is safe to consume our North Korean guides insist on a large supply of soju and rice liquor to wash everything down with.


North Korean Taekwondo Expert Defeats American Imperialist

On my recent trip to North Korea I arranged a private Taekwondo demonstration at the Pyongyang Taekwondo Palace. It was an amazing and extremely rare experience but the best part of the show was when we convinced the North Koreans to match their best against DPRK analyst and US Senatorial consultant Michael Bassett. Unfortunately (but expectantly) our American representative suffered a swift and devastating defeat!

Pyongyang Taekwondo Palace

Pyongyang Taekwondo Palace

Pyongyang Taekwondo Palace

Pyongyang Taekwondo Palace

Pyongyang Taekwondo Palace

Pyongyang Taekwondo Palace

Pyongyang Taekwondo Palace

I assume the North Koreans will never let a tourist match up with their Taekwondo experts again – a first and last ever brought to you by American in North Korea. More pics from the Taekwondo demonstration to come.