Archive for April, 2012

Wonsan Docks

Wonson Docks, North Korea

Wonsan Docks, North Korea – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

In Wonsan, the North Korean East Coast port city, we were allowed about an hour to walk and enjoy the local scene at the city docks and main square.  My friends quickly started a frenzy with the Frisbee on the docks while I took pictures all along the waterfront and in the main square.  We captivated the locals and created quite a stir with children chasing us on roller blades and soldiers asking for pictures, but apparently the fun was too much for some people and government big wigs, who were not amused by the scene, quickly dispersed the crowds and sent us on our way (back on the bus).

More pics below from the Wonsan Docks and Main Square.

Wonson Docks, North Korea

Frisbee at the Wonson Docks North Korea

Frisbee at the Wonson Docks North Korea

Wonson Town Square North Korea

Thank You to Polaroid for Camera Sponsership

Polaroid Gift Shots in North Korea

Polaroid gift photo, Songdowon Children’s Camp, Wonsan, North Korea – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

The American in North Korea Blog, along with my partners over at The North Korea Blog, want to thank Polaroid for their generous sponsorship of a Z340 Instant Digital Camera for our most recent trip to the DPRK, North Korea. Connecting with North Korean locals was our biggest goal for the trip, and the Z340 was a tremendous help in the accomplishment of this mission. More than just showing our pictures to locals on a digital camera video screen, the Z340 Instant Digital Camera let us give something back, and judging by the enthusiasm and reactions encountered we trust that the images from the Z340 will be cherished by the people we shared them with.  Thanks again Polaroid – we look forward to more photos shared on our projected 2013 return trip to the DPRK!

Polaroid Gift Shots in North Korea

Sailors on the USS Pueblo receive their Polaroid photo.

Polaroid Gift Shots in North Korea

BBQ restaurant waitress showing off their Polaroid gift photo.

Polaroid Gift Shots in North Korea

Girls receive a gift Polaroid picture at the Kaeson Fun Fair, Pyongyang.

Polaroid Gift Shots in North Korea

A group of girls and their gift photo at Kim Il-sung Square, Pyongyang.

Polaroid Gift Shots in North Korea

A group of girls and their gift photo at Kim Il-sung Square, Pyongyang.


Gift picture with girls at the 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations.

Pyongyang Traffic Girls Return!

Pyongyang, North Korea Traffic Girl

Pyongyang Traffic Girl – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

To our delight, the traffic girls of Pyongyang were brought out of retirement to help deal with the massive traffic congestion, and perhaps to add a little more color to the city for ‘Eternal President’ Kim Il Sung’s 100th year birthday celebrations.

On my first visit (summer 2011) we had been saddened to learn that the girls had been replaced by a modern traffic light system. They could still be seen on occasion, running roadside signal lamp switches, working road construction sights, or directing traffic during the frequent power outages, but we missed their famous directing routines performed at the main city intersections. I’m happy to report that this April they were back directing traffic throughout Pyongyang, and although I have no idea how long this will last, I got some great pics during this special opportunity and will be sure to have a follow-up post sharing the best of them!

The New Kim Il-sung/Kim Jong-il Badge

New Kim Il-sung/Kim Jong-il Badge

The double Kim badge is the latest in North Korean fashion – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

Back from the DPRK, North Korea!

Mangyongdae Children's Palace

Mangyongdae Children’s Palace Performance – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

I just arrived back home after a 10 day trip to North Korea for the 100th year birthday celebrations for Kim Il Sung.  I’m happy to report that we had an amazing trip filled with wonderful interactions with charming locals, visits with old friends, and unparalleled access to the various major cities, countryside, and even industrial and heavy industry sites –  all made possible by the support of our fantastic North Korean guides!

I was genuinely surprised to have had over 10 people introduce themselves to me during the trip as fans of this blog.  I was truly delighted by the support, and as I sit here overwhelmed by the 8,000 plus photos I took during this last trip, I am motivated to get to work knowing that all my efforts are appreciated!

And I am certainly aware of the latest round of saber rattling currently coming out of the DPRK.  I have some on the ground observations, and while not an expert, I will work to get a post out ASAP sharing my thoughts on the present situation  in North Korea.

Much, much more to come!


Flight to Beijing and Pyongyang, North Korea

Mass Games

Chinese flag at the Arirang Mass Games – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

I’m off to the airport for my flight to Beijing, China and will be flying to Pyongyang, North Korea on the 12th. See everyone on the the 25th of April – wish me luck!

Back to the DPRK!

My brothers over at The North Korea Blog and myself are are heading back to the DPRK next week for round two of some world-class totalitarian theatre. Empty highways, wet shooting ranges and disturbingly intimate conversations with locals are calling us back to the hermit kingdom.

Besides, this is the year that North Korea becomes a “strong and prosperous nation.” We couldn’t miss that, could we?

And how different it is this time around, just six months after our first trip.

Kim Jong Il is dead.

Kim Jong Un has assumed power……..continue reading this post at The North Korea Blog.

Taedong River View Pyongyang

Taedong River View, Pyongyang, North Korea – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

The highlight of the trip will be the 100th year birthday celebrations of the ‘Eternal’ President Kim Il-sung.  This was no easy trip to make happen, over the winter we waited out the nationwide lockdown after the death of Kim Jong-il only to learn that it looked like there wouldn’t be rooms available to foreigners in Pyongyang during the Kim Il-sung birthday celebrations.  Dignitaries from the provinces would be flooding the capital during this time, but the good people over at Koryo Tours were finally able to scrape together some hotel rooms for us – not sure about the quality of the rooms but at least we have something guaranteed and the trip is confirmed!

Since I’m going to a birthday party I decided to bring a gift, and after a bit of diplomatic letter writing, I have been approved to present a gift to representatives for Kim Il-sung at the International Friendship Exhibition.  This is truly going to be a once in a lifetime trip!

Ultimate Frisbee North Korea

Soldiers at a Pyongyang park.

We want this to be a truly epic trip, birthday parties, rocket launches, and diplomatic gifts were not going to be enough, so I wrote up and submitted a custom itinerary that included North Korean sites never previously visited by western tourists.  Our tour will include the first ever visit to the Nampo  Chollima Steel Works, Tae’an Heavy Machine Tool Complex, Tae’an Glass Factory sites, and the Nampo Taekwondo School.  Another first ever visit will take us to Pujon, a town deep in the wild interior of the country where we will take mountain hikes and visit the infamous “slogan trees“.

Other exciting destinations we will visit (not on standard first time visitor tour program) include the Nampo West Sea Barrage, the Songdowon Schoolchildren’s Camp, Wonsan’s central square and piers, the Wonsan Agricultural University, the Tongbong Cooperative Farm, and the town of Hamhung and its beach scene.

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Man at a Pyonagyang park.

I have also planned a trip up to the Chinese/North Korean border town of Dandong for a little exploration and investigation.  Most foreigners visit Dandong as a trip extension on their stopover on departure from the DPRK by train, but Americans are required to fly both in and out, so my visit will be by train from Beijing after the North Korea trip is complete.  In Dandong my friend Jordan (from The North Korea Blog) and I will attempt to rub shoulders with North Korean spies, and learn the lowdown from the smuggles, refugees, and Christian missionaries that haunt the border region.  There is also some pretty wacky nightlife to check out, and there is no way I’m going to miss out on the opportunity to have rocks thrown at me as I attempt to take pictures of North Korean sailors and their boats on the river cruise.

Ultimate Frisbee North Korea

Bubble gum in Pyongyang.

I hope all my dear readers will be excited for all the new and original material to come.  I have recently bought new lenses and  upgraded my camera kit from the Sony A55 to the new pro level Sony A77.  I just hope I can get this new camera into the county, I will be devastated if it is held at customs, so please send me some positive vibes and wish me good luck!