A Glimpse of North Korea

I visited Sinuiju, North Korean city bordering Northern China as a tourist on July 2, 2000.  As were restricted to take pictures in North Korea, I did not have too many to offer.

I took a bus to cross the Yalu River from the Chinese side into North Korea.  The broken bridge in the picture is the original bridge that connected China and North Korea.  The U.S. air raids bombed the northern half of the bridge during the Korean War.  The Chinese government decided to preserve the southern half to remember the war.

Another look of the broken bridge.  Tourists can pay a admission fee of 10 Chinese yuen (about US$1,25) to get into the broken bridge and walk to the very end of the cut off point.

In Sinuiju city, North Kroea.  In front of Kim Il Sung's museum.  I am with a North Korean museum guide.  They were all in traditional Korean dress like this and high heel shoes.  Before we entered the Musem, our group (about 16 of us) paid respect to Kim Il Sung's statue with some fresh flowers wer brought with us from Dan Dong city, China in the morning when we took off to cross the bridge on the Yalu River.

I am in fron of the Kim Il Sung museum and Kim Il Sung statue.  Before taking this picture, we presented flowers and paid respect to Kim's statue.

An Eternal pillar on the side of Kim Il Sung's museum.  We were told to take pictures only facing this direction.  Behind us is a regular street hardly with any people passing by.

A closer look at the Eternal pillar.  The Korean words say something like Korean's great leader Kim Il Sung lives forever.  After the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994, the North Korean government sent out order throughout the country to build two structures in major cities.  One is this type of eternal pillar, another is a big cement board wit hKim's smiling portrait painting.

Very few pedestians on the street next to the Eternal pillar

On the site of the Kim Il Sung museum, there is a memorial for Kim's early revolutionary activities.   While on the site, we were told to only take picutres in the direction behind me and to my right hand side.  One Chinese tourist aimed at the direction in front of me, the entire film in his camera was exposed and confiscated by the secret service agents that tailed us.  

We visit a special North Korean kindergarten.  It is obvious that all the shows are set only for foreigners to visit.  The kids are entertaining visitors.  They are surely very cute and talented.  For us, they sing several Chinese songs.

The boys are giving talent show.  The little one in the middle in yellow is especially cute and funny.

Young kids are practicing piano with their teacher's supervision.

Teachers of the kindergarten are singing songs in both Korean and Chinese.  Notice that every adult wears a badge of Kim Il Sung.  I asked one of the teacher if I could get one as a souvenir but was told that Kim's badge was only given by government authority in an official way.  If they lose the badge, it will be a political incident that they have to confess for their guilt of losing it.  North Korea is an isolated country.  But these teachers are all wearing high heels with stockings, in western style of skirts, and plying western musical instruments.  The electric piano they play is Sanyo brand.  Although they might be putting up the show for visitors, they certainly know some of what has been going on outside their country.

This is at the end of the visit, all the kids who were in the performances gather outside the kindergarten to say good bye to us.  They stood under the sun for as long as we want to take pictures with them and waited there until we left.

In this picture, I was trying to get one of the North Korean secret service agents that had been with us throughout the tour.  He is seen here particaly in the right coner in a white shirt.

Our lunch in North Korea.  The plate on the left side of the vase is the chicekn and everything else is vegies.  The big yellow things on the plate on the left side are some kind of tree leaves wrapped by wheat flour and deep fried.  They tasted kind of strange.  The rice (not showed on the table) comes from China, known as "cross the (Yalu) river rice." The beer, although a Korean brand name, was bottled in Dan Dong city cross the Yalu River on the Chinese side.  Hopefully, in time less than many expect, North Korea will want to open its door to the world and to begin economic and democratic reforms.