Inside the Hermit Kingdom: Pyongyang

"Here is the locked ward of the political asylum, the place where politics has actually become an official state religion, and power is worshipped, directly and literally, in the form of a colossal bronze idol to which the people come and bow with every sign of reverence. Nothing in the modern world compares with North Korea, though it gives us some clue about how life must have been under the pharaohs, in Imperial Japan before Hiroshima, or in the obliterated years - conveniently erased from memory by blushing fellow travelers - when Josef Stalin was revered as a human god."

Prisoners in Camp Kim, by Peter Hitchens, The American Conservative.

Map of North Korea taken by Don Parrish
Map of central Pyongyang provided by Don Parrish

Admittedly I have a somewhat strange interest in North Korea, and have maintained that for quite some time now, in that I constantly wonder how an entire nation, built on misinformation, fear, corruption and deceit, will survive when it eventually collapses. I only wish that the collapse happens in the very near future, to spare the continuing impact the dictatorship has on its population. Here are some satelite pictures, as well as other resources below.

Satellite picture of the 105-story Ryugyong Hotel

The 105-story Ryugyong Hotel. The tallest structure in the country, and, if completed, would have been the seventh largest building in the world, construction began in 1987 but was never completed, probably due to exorbitantly high costs. It will probably never open.


Satellite picture of a statue of Kim Il-Sung

Statue of Kim Il-Sung, with the Korean Revolution Museum behind.


An ice rink in North Korea

Let's go skating! Ice rink.


Pyongyang train station, a pic

Pyongyang station.


The Rungnado May First Stadium

May Day Stadium (Rungnado May First Stadium), the largest multi-purpose stadium in Asia and also the largest in the world, home to the Arirang Festival (mass games) and not much more. Can seat up to 150,000.


The Yanggakdo Football Stadium

Yanggakdo Football Stadium. Apparently holds 30,000 people and was opened in 1989. Considerably more decrepit.


The Monument for the Party Founding

Across the river from the grand bronze statue of Kim Il-Sung, the Monument for the Party Founding, erected in 1995, is about 50m tall and consists of three structures each of a hammer, sickle and writing brush, which represent the worker, the peasant and the intellectual. See actual photo.


The Monument to Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War

To the right: Monument to Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War.


Satellite image of Tower of the Juche Idea

The 150-meter Tower of the Juche Idea was erected on April 15, 1982, on the occasion of the 70th birthday of the North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung. The body of the tower is faced with 70 granite slabs, one for each year of Kim Il-sung's life up to that time. See actual photo.


The Triumph Return Square arch that surpasses the Arche de Triomphe in Paris

Built in 1982 on the Triumph Return Square, it is the largest arch in the world, standing 60m high and 50m wide, and was deliberately built to be larger than the one in Paris.


Satellite image of Kim Il-Sung stadium

Kim Il-Sung stadium, with a capacity of 70,000 and mainly used for soccer matches.


Kim-Il Sung square

Kim Il-Sung Square.


Research for this was made possible through Google Maps, Wikimapia, Donald Parrish, Jr., and The Pyongyang Metro website

Bienvenue en Corée du Nord: A video broadcast, in French, or three journalists travelling to North Korea. watch


Welcome to North Korea, a documentary by Peter Tetteroo and Raymond Feddema

Year Event
1948 September 9: Formal declaration of the formation of the Democratic People' Republic of Korea (DPRK).
1950 June 25: Beginning of the Korean War as North invades the South. It would take only two days for the North to reach Seoul.
1969 April 15: Navy EC-121 reconnaissance plane shot down over North Korea, killing all 31 aboard.
1993 May 29/30: Nodong-1 missile fired into the Sea of Japan, with the goal of trading these with Iran in exchange for oil.
1994 July 8: Death of Kim Il-sung at age 82. His eldest son, Kim Jong-il, takes over.
October 21: Agreed Framework signed between North Korea and the United States. Stipulated the replacement of nuclear reactors with light water plants, and made a move towards normalizing political and economic relations.
1998 August 31: Two-stage Taepodong 1 ballistic missile launched under the ruse of a Kwangmyongsong-1 satellite launch. Flies over Japan.
2003 January 10: North Korea withdraws from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
2006 July 4/July 5 in DPRK: Taepodong-2 missile launched, fails after 42 seconds. 6 other short-range missiles launched as well, all land in the Sea of Japan.
October 9: North Korea runs its first nuclear test somewhere close to 385 km NE of Pyongyang, with a suspected size of less than 1 kiloton.
2008 June 27: North Korea destroys a cooling tower at the Yongbyon atomic reactor amid fanfare.
2009 April 5: Launch of Taepodong-2 missile, claimed to be Kwangmyongsong-2, a communications satellite. The payload flies over Japan and lands in the Pacific Ocean.
May 25: Second nuclear test near the location of the first test. Size is estimated to be between 10 and 20 kilotons.

Sources gratefully acknowedged include the BBC, Timelines.ws, Wikipedia, Wikipedia again.