Western Pyongyang with the Monument to Party Founding in the distance. Visitors are often surprised at Pyongyang’s bright pastel-colors and uniquely constructed buildings. The city’s development has been overseen by the Pyongyang City Designing Institute which has managed the design and construction of over 470 important projects including recently completed Mirae Scientists Street and Ryomyong Street.
North Korea Going All Out to Attract Foreign Tourists
North Korea is making strong efforts to attract foreign tourists. The State General Bureau of Tourist Guidance advertised on its website ‘DPR Korea Tour’ that the Korea International Travel Company (KITC) will run a Korean language program at the Pyongyang Tourism College (PTC) from July 14 to August 4, the Seoul-based Seoul-Pyongyang News said on April 4.
The language program advertises three levels of instruction—beginner, intermediate and advanced—with tourists to attend three hours of in-class language lessons each morning, followed by tours in the afternoon of famous attractions and scenic spots in Pyongyang, Kaesong, Nampho and Mt. Myohyang.
The state agency remarked that the PTC has produced many talented workers who now staff the tourism industry. PTC has also expanded the scope of knowledge in the industry by providing to its students a wide range of lectures by both local and foreign instructors. The website also features a film clip, which shows a group of college students from Hong Kong taking the Korean language program at the PTC last December. It added that KITC offers many interesting itineraries combining various themed tour programs, including bike riding around the city of Pyongyang, experiencing daily life on the Migok Collective Farm in Sariwon, learning North Korean cooking, and boating on the Taedong River. Having overhauled its website in mid-March, the state agency is demonstrating efforts to attract foreign tourists by newly introducing a flower festival, exhibitions, sports events, and various other tourist products. Language programs for tourists are not an entirely new product for North Korea. For example, in summer 2017, Kim Hyong Jik University—located in the capital and well-known for producing teachers—held a Korean language summer study program in conjunction with the academically-focused international travel agency Tongil Tours, who is offering their summer program again in 2018 at the same venue. This year, international travel companies such as Koryo Tours, Korea Konsult, and KTG DPRK Tours & Information all appear to be advertising the Pyongyang Tourism College language program, while the company Young Pioneer Tours is offering a very short program (four classes) to take place in July primarily at the School of Foreign Languages in Chongjin, and Juche Travel Services is advertising a three-week program at Kim Hyong Jik University in Pyongyang.
An LED-style display spanning at least five stories and illumination lighting have recently been added to the Ryugyong Hotel. The hotel has been under construction since 1986 but it has seen a flurry of minor construction activities leading to speculation that it will finally open on a limited basis later this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the DPRK.
Animators of the Korean April 26 Cartoon Film Studio working on the famous North Korean animation Young Warriors of Koryo. Since its establishment in 1956, the studio has produced hundreds of animated films for domestic and international audiences. It famously helped to produce dozens of unnamed American cartoons throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s.
Central Pyongyang by night.
Xi Jinping, president of China, hosted a grand banquet to welcome Kim Jong Un to Beijing. During Kim Jong Un’s first international trip as the leader of North Korea, the two statesmen had substantial talks about the current political situation on the Korean peninsula and pledged to improve cooperation between China and North Korea.
A photocopy of Kim Jong Un’s fraudulently obtained Brazilian passport which lists his name as Josef Pwag. According to Western security officials, the passports were used to apply for visas in at least two Western countries and may have also been used to travel to Brazil, Japan, and Hong Kong.
Vintage photo of Pyongyangites riding the Pyongyang Metro’s escalator. The deepest metro system in the world at 110 metres, it takes 3 ½ minutes to reach platforms from ground level. Daily ridership is estimated to be between 300,000 to 700,000 people.