asia · North Korea (DPRK) · Travel

My journey into North Korea (Part 3: the roads)

If this is the first post you’re seeing from this series then welcome and I hope you enjoy it, here is Part 1 and Part 2

The reason I’ve made the third part of this series about the roads is that so much is seen on the roads in North Korea, when we arrived in towns or villages the ‘supervisors’ would quickly hurry us along so as not to have any interactions with civilians, they would only allow us access to speak with the people they’d approved or the ‘props’ that they had set up at various locations, which I’ll just touch on now and come back to it in a later segment; basically, if you go on a tour in NK you will be taken to various places of interest, places that have been kept in pristine condition such as libraries or museums where you will see the ‘privileged’ children, smartly dressed with their party pins in place(a small badge with the faces of the great leaders on)  The party pins are not worn by every citizen but it seems only those who have been deemed worthy and there are different types of pins, some only bearing the face of Kim Il Sung and some bearing the faces of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, no badges bear the face of Kim Jong Un(the current leader) also known as the Marshall.  It was plainly obvious on many occasions in certain places, that had we not been there the public presence would have been very different, again this is something I’ll touch on a bit more in later segments.

girl with cow

Some other people in the group were a little offended by some of our stances.  They started to believe that in such a restrictive, poverty stricken country, people just popped down to the local Seashore club for a few pints and a game of pool, which I’m almost certain wasn’t the case, well maybe the party members did, but the average worker…not a chance; this just goes to show how easily people can become brainwashed even after a few days of being told what to believe, I have to admit, it even got to me after 5 or so days, I can only imagine what a lifetime living there would do to you.

Man on bike.jpg

The thing that is great about the roads is that you can’t be shuffled away, meetings aren’t prepared, the everyday citizens just buzz about doing their everyday activities, and for some reason the ‘supervisors’ didn’t want us taking photos of this, however, you can pretend to be asleep in the seat and wait till the bus rattles over a pothole to disguise the shutter noise on your camera like I did, and as a result I got some pretty good shots from the window on the bus, these were probably the most genuine photographs I managed to get on the whole trip.

Man on truck.jpg

The roads are also where you see how people get around in the northern most rural part of the country, there are no modern cars like you’d see in Pyongyang, the majority of what is seen are old Korean or USSR built trucks from around the time of the Korean war, sometimes we would even see trucks that ran on burning wood, these trucks are incredibly old and were used during WWII due to the lack of oil based fuels available at the time, however, they really didn’t like photos of these trucks being taken and the ‘supervisor’ would stand up and look around the bus whenever one went past to make sure nobody got a sneaky shot of of, it seemed like it was quite embarrassing to them, fortunately I did manage to get a shot of one, which I’m rather glad of as I have never seen anything like it before outside of a museum.

Post edits-2.jpg

This train didn’t seem functional and I saw some guys mending the track a bit further along which can be seen below, but even still, looking at these trains is like taking a look 50 years into the past.

Post edits.jpg

I really like this picture of a small group of kids at the side of the road who appear to be gathering plants to take home, they looked really cheerful, smiling and waving at us as we drove past, although it did make me a little sad to drive away knowing that they will never have the chance to reach their potential in a country like this.

Kids.jpg

Anyway, that’s the end of this segment.  As I keep going through my photos I am realising just how much I actually have from this trip but I’m looking forward to posting more of it.  Hope you’ve enjoyed this series so far, I will try and upload more tomorrow.

Whew, it’s surprising how long getting a post like this together takes.

Goodnight

Matt

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13 thoughts on “My journey into North Korea (Part 3: the roads)

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