Blogs from North Korea, Asia - page 2

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Asia » North Korea » Pyongyang March 21st 2011

That would be a better name than the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Of course any country that feels the need to shore up its credentials by affixing such prefixes as 'democratic' and 'peoples' is bound to be dubious. As a rule the more a regime emphasizes its democratic values through the amount of adjectives in its name the more ruthless and undemocratic it is. As such the D.P.R.K is the worst of the lot, as it not only claims to be democratic, but also to be governed by its people. The reality is much more bleak, it is governed by a ruthless tyrant and his cronnies, all belonging in one way or another to the Kim-clan. North Korea is in effect Kim's personal playground, a fiefdom if you will. It is ruled with an iron ... read more
Panmunjom
Panmunjom
Panmunjom

Asia » North Korea December 31st 2010

I am curious as to what might intrigue the interest of my journal readers most. Will it be my internal growth and development as an individual along the way or will it be my bloopers and blunders as I as an American foreigner forge my way in this unfamiliar territory?? Yes I am definitely the foreigner here in this beautiful country. As many have already seen on my FB postings my journey has been both challenging and funny all at the same time. My stories to be told may bring tears of joy to some and tears of sadness to others. The hopes are that you will grow with me along the way. I believe that God takes each of us on a variety of adventures so that we may expand beyond our capacity of understanding. ... read more

Asia » North Korea » Pyongyang October 3rd 2010

A trip to North Korea isn’t really complete without enjoying a dog barbecue at least once. I’ve eaten dog once before in China, and have to say the taste of dog certainly beats the image of eating it. With so few restaurants accommodating foreign tourists, it seemed as though the whole tourist population of Pyongyang had converged on this single restaurant, serving a variety of barbecued dog dishes. Sadly all of these foreigners were able to use chopsticks far better than me, a dismal fact considering I’ve been in China for almost a year. Up until now, I’d decided against asking Ms. Lee our guide any probing questions against North Korea. But after building up two days worth of trust and respect, there wasn’t going to be a better chance. I was under the impression that ... read more
Pyongyang Skyline
Pyongyang Skyline
Pyongyang - Tower of the Juche Idea

Asia » North Korea » Panmunjom October 2nd 2010

This would be my last full day in North Korea. Unfortunately, due to the extortionate prices charged to visit this secluded republic, my meagre teaching wages couldn’t afford a longer stay. Again leaving the hotel at the crack of dawn, with other buses and their armed escorts waiting for Workers Party members in the hotel car park, we were on our way to what many call the most guarded place on Earth: Panmunjom. Panmunjom was once a village on the border between South and North Korea. This was the place where the 1953 Armistice Treaty was signed, which halted the Korean War. With the creation of the 250km long and 4km wide de-militarized zone (DMZ), inhabitants left Panmunjom. Falling in to ruin, the village eventually disappeared from view. Now it’s one of the safest places you ... read more
Panmunjom
Pyongyang to Panmunjom
Pyongyang Reunification Monument

Asia » North Korea » Pyongyang October 1st 2010

One thing they don’t like to give you whilst in North Korea is free-time. Free-time breeds curiosity and in North Korea curiosity can land you in a lot of trouble. After scoffing down a breakfast consisting of New Zealand Anchor butter and my first toast in a year, we were immediately on our way. Our guide Ms. Lee (one of four family names that make up 95% of the North Korean population), who had yet to crack a smile and Mr. Jang our guard, who seemed far more laid back, stuck to us like a wasp on jam. As there were only my wife and I in our tour ‘group’, we would be joining up with a larger Chinese group. No matter what your nationality is, all tour itineraries include the same attractions. The only difference ... read more
International Friendship Museum
Pyongyang - Ryugyong Hotel
Pyongyang Children's Palace

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Asia » North Korea » Pyongyang September 30th 2010

North Korea hasn’t really received many creditable reviews as a tourist destination. With George Bush’s infamous ’Axis of Evil’ words and the fatal shooting of a 53 year old South Korean tourist by a North Korean soldier, this isn’t the kind of publicity tourist boards want to receive. Such stories often fail to tell the whole story, and after researching our chosen destination thoroughly, as long as you abide by the country’s laws and customs, it’s probably one of the safest destinations in the world to visit. With your own personal guide and guard, the inability to delve from the set itinerary, coupled with the fear for potential criminals of being sent to one of the notorious gulags, the chances of a hassle-free trip looked high. Unfortunately, the view of Americans in North Korea is still ... read more
Pyongyang - Night View
Pyongyang - Yanggakdo Hotel
Pyongyang - Yanggakdo Hotel

Asia » North Korea » Pyongyang August 28th 2010

So have you guessed where it is yet? 5 Days - Maximum time on budget spent in the country, the length of my trip. So you should be able to gather that it was an expensive country to visit. 4 Names - Kim, Lee, Pakh and Chai These 4 names make up 95% of the population’s surnames. A question I found important to bring up was if everyone has the same name what happens to the post? There isn’t so much personal correspondence as it turns out. The names should indicate East Asia. 3 Adjectives - People’s, Republic, Democratic As a great traveller(his Travel Blog is His Dudeness) and great man(Ralf) once told me , the more political adjectives a regime had to fill its title with the more evil the regime was reputed to be. ... read more
At the Metro
Spot the Blue One!
Normal Wellies and Bags

Asia » North Korea » Panmunjom August 20th 2010

The DMZ On the the 3rd day of the trip, we made our way to one of the most surreal tourist attractions in the world - the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which separates North and South Korea. We had to wake up earlier than expected and depart at 7:30am, because the tour guides received information that the DMZ would be closed in the afternoon due to an "event". (Later I found out from the news that the "event" referred to the return of South Korean pastor Han Sang-Ryol from North Korea. Pastor Han arrived at North Korea in June and paid a two-month visit (which included a meeting with DPRK's number two leader, Kim Yong-nam). After he returned to South Korea via the DMZ on 20 Aug, he was arrested because South Korea's "security law" prohibited its ... read more
General Lecture Room (Beside the entrance to DMZ)
Map of the current border in the General Lecture Room
Map of Panmunjom in the General Lecture Room

Asia » North Korea » Pyongyang August 19th 2010

North Korea. A country that regularly appears on the news, but for all the wrong reasons. Nuclear ambitions, famines, natural disasters, lack of human rights, abduction of foreigners, sanctions from other countries... (and also the recent sinking of a South Korean vessel and an embarrassing loss to Portugal during the World Cup)... The list goes on and on. The country, also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea or DPRK (The word "Democratic" raises many people's eyebrows), is probably the most interesting travel destination that I have ever visited. What makes the country so interesting is the mystery and secrecy shrouding the country. With the government controlling every single piece of information into and out of the nation, it's kinda difficult to get an idea of what things are really like inside the "Hermit nation". ... read more
Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge
Dandong train station
Train from Dandong to Sinuiju

Asia » North Korea » Pyongyang August 19th 2010

Arirang Mass Games This is one of the main reasons why I wanted to visit North Korea and is definitely the most memorable part of the trip. While impressions of North Korea is generally negative in the Western world, the mass games is probably one of the few things in North Korea that will awe and impress everyone. Recognised by Guinness World Records as the "largest gymnastic and artistic performance in the world" (with more than 100000 performers), the mass games is unarguably the greatest show on Earth and is definitely an event which North Korea can truly be proud of. On our way to the May 1st Stadium, the venue of the Mass Games, our guide (Guide 1) talked about the origin of the word "Arirang". Arirang was the name of a man who had ... read more
Arirang Mass Games souvenir for sale
Inside May 1st Stadium
Prologue




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