Archive for September, 2012

Dongbong Co-Operative Farm

A few days ago I shared some pictures of The Cutest North Korean Soldier  taken during our visit to the Dongbong Co-Operative Farm outside Hamhung, North Korea.  Below are more photos from that visit showing how farmers and their families live and work under the Juche-communist style of cooperative farming:

Tongbong Cooperative Farm

Tongbong Cooperative Farm

Tongbong Cooperative Farm

Tongbong Cooperative Farm

Tongbong Cooperative Farm

Tongbong Cooperative Farm

Tongbong Cooperative Farm

Tongbong Cooperative Farm

Tongbong Cooperative Farm

Tongbong Cooperative Farm Sign

Info on the North Korean co-operative farm system is hard to find online, web searches on the subject bring up this blog as a top hit, but I do remember learning from books I read for my pre-trip background studies that those who live and work on co-operative farms have a fantastic standard of living (by North Korean standards), with the farms being profitable enough that the workers and families living within the cooperative system typically have more material goods and higher savings compared to average workers from Pyongyang.

Advertisements

Visit to the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery on the 100th Birthday of Kim Il-sung

For the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung we were allowed to join members of the North Korean military and make a pilgrimage to the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery to pay our respects to the fallen fighters and leaders of the Homeland Liberation War (the Korean War as we know it) and the anti-Japanese revolutionary periods. Along a terraced hillside, each grave is adorned with a bronze bust of the fallen including Kim Jong-suk, first wife of Kim Il-sung, and Kang Pan-sŏk, mother of Kim Il-sung.

Photos of the military are generally prohibited in North Korea, but due to the importance of the event and sheer number of military personnel at the cemetery, our guides allowed us full photography freedom, although I was still chewed out by several over zealous guides working other groups. Photos from the visit posted below:

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Sailors at the Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Sailors at the Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations - Martyrs' Cemetery

Photos by Joseph A Ferris III


Taedong River Cruise

During our spring 2012 trip I arranged a private lunch and boat cruise along the banks of the Taedong River from central Pyongyang to its outskirts; our guides and boat crew seemed completely unconcerned about our photography (our guide Ms Han seemed just as fascinated by the cruise as we were). Below are some of the amazing shots of daily life and work on the Taedong River, North Korea:

Taedong River, DPRK, North Korea

Local scene along the Taedong.

Taedong River, DPRK, North Korea

A worker and his dog on a river dredge.

USS Pueblo and Bucket Dredge

Bucket dredge working in front of the USS Pueblo.

Taedong River, DPRK, North Korea

Working on a river dredge.

Taedong River Pyongyang, North Korea

Working on a river dredge.

Taedong River Pyongyang, North Korea

Pipeline river dredge.

Taedong River 대동강 Dredge

Working on a river dredge.

Taedong River Pyongyang, North Korea

Moving cargo off a river boat on the Taedong.

Taedong River, DPRK, North Korea

Ship on the blocks on a Taedong River shipyard.

Military Wash North Korea

Soldiers doing their laundry on the river bank.

Taedong River, DPRK, North Korea

A working rowboat on the Taedong.

Taedong River, DPRK, North Korea

Locals fishing on the Taedong.

Taedong River, DPRK, North Korea

Bridge and trams over the Taedong.

Taedong River Pyongyang, North Korea

Recreational rowboats on the Taedong.

Taedong River Pyongyang, North Korea

Recreational rowboats on the Taedong.

Taedong River Pyongyang, North Korea

Recreational rowboats on the Taedong.

North Korean Guide Ms Han

A fascinated Ms Han takes in the river scenery.

North Korean Guide Ms Han

For anyone who wants to arrange a similar trip please make sure you negotiate the cost of the cruise beforehand, I was a bit surprised to be handed a 600 Euro bill 45 min. into the cruise.  I promptly had Ms Han turn the boat around and requested a recalculation for fuel saved for heading back early.  A few phone calls later our bill came out to about $20 per passenger, an entirely better deal and completely worth it for the experience – please note that a lunch on the boat while moored, i.e. no river cruise, is included with the cost of your tour, no extra fee expected.

All photos by Joseph A Ferris III


The Cutest North Korean Soldier and Our Visit to the Dongbong Co-Operative Farm

Dongbong Co-Operative Farm, Hamhung, North Korea

The Cutest North Korean Soldier

On our visit to the Dongbong Co-Operative Farm cooperative farm outside Hamhung, we were allowed time to interact with a group of young children during their preschool recess activities.  Waddling around, tugging at our beards, and pawing at our cameras to look at our digital pictures, our experience with these kids was a highlight of the trip.   After about 15 minutes the children were called back to the schoolyard for some marching and saluting practice lead by their teachers and minders.

Dongbong Co-Operative Farm, Hamhung, North Korea

Some people in my group felt this entire interaction and schoolyard display was some sort of playacting show put on by citizen actors for us foreigners, but I tend to not be so pessimistic and believe we were fortunate enough to witness some authentic rural scenes of life not commonly glimpsed by foreigners.

Dongbong Co-Operative Farm, Hamhung, North Korea

Dongbong Co-Operative Farm, Hamhung, North Korea

All photos by Joseph A Ferris III
– more photos from this series linked below.
(more…)


Traditional Fishing Boat Wonsan, North Korea and Vacation!

The view of the Pacific Ocean from my stateroom porthole this morning reminded me of the calm seas off the city of Wonsan where this traditional North Korean fishing boat works.

Wonsan Boat North Korea

Photo by Joseph A Ferris III

After 4 months of duty as a Chief Mate on a scientific research ship voyaging on expeditions from Chile, Galapagos, and out of Southern California, I made my final arrival this morning and have officially started 3 months of vacation!  I fly back to Maine to visit my family for two weeks, and then start the real adventure: two and a half months traveling around the Netherlands, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Malta, Iran, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia, Turkey, and Lebanon.

North Korea isn’t in the itinerary this time around, maybe in 2013, but I’m excited to make a visit to Iran.  A little less strict than the DPRK, Americans are still required to have a guide there.  I’m going with the owner of Young Pioneers, a tour company that specializes in trips to the DPRK and other hard to reach places.  This is their 2nd trip into Iran, and after hearing stories about their first trip over beers at the Pyongyang micro brewery, I decided this trip was a must if my schedule could work it.

Expect a page here in the future with pics and a travel log from this Fall 2012 adventure!


Official DPRK Spring 2012 Video

Thanks to Cyrus Kirkpatrick  who put together this video from our Spring 2012 DPRK trip. 


More photos from the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace

Gymnasts, dancers, and little stars perform at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace:

Mangyongdae Children's Palace North Korea

Mangyongdae Children's Palace North Korea

Mangyongdae Children's Palace North Korea

Mangyongdae Children's Palace North Korea

The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace; a place for children of the privileged elite to spend time after school practicing sports, art, folk dance and music – and of course, show it all off with military like precision and forced smiles to groups of visiting foreign friends and tourists. More from this series linked below – all photos by Joseph A Ferris III

(more…)


Amsterdam Pyongyang Restaurant Closed

I fly to Europe in a few weeks and had plans to meet up with some of my Dutch friends for dinner at the Amsterdam Pyongyang Restaurant, the only North Korean state run restaurant outside Asia.  Unfortunately I just learned the Amsterdam Pyongyang Restaurant has closed, and not without a little controversy.

Their website claims that “due to holidays temporarily closed”, but news sources offer a different explanation:

This writes the newspaper. The tent was an initiative of two of Amsterdam that the ties between our country and the Asian dictatorship wanted to tighten. That did not work, because the owners had a fight with their North Korean personnel. The workers complained that they barely got paid and that there was exploitation. Director Remco van Daal was in turn the impression that the whole operation was a deliberate plan by the Koreans to gain access to the Netherlands and to obtain work permits.

Lowering of the whole affair has been provisionally fill of everything with North Korea faces. “We have done this out of idealism and we are very far. But it’s about. I do not think we ever go back to that country.” – internet translation from Dutch Telegraph article.

Singing North Korean Waitress Dandong, China

A lovely waitress sings to diners at the Dandong, China branch of the Pyongyang Restaurant – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

The Chosen Exchange chimes in with their own insights:

Accusations and counter-accusations abound: the Dutch partner says the restaurant was drained of money by the Koreans so they could start over without him, the Koreans say the Dutch guy didn’t pay his share, including wages.  Indeed, a court ruled yesterday that the employees are owed payment by the Dutch company.

Despite whatever hanky panky that lead to the closing of the Amsterdam Pyongyang Restaurant I still highly recommend you make a visit to one of their remaining Asian branches for a fantastic night of exotic dining and unique entertainment.  The list of cities with a Pyongyang restaurant can be found here, but make sure to double check locally before heading out.


The End of North Korea

Gabriel Mizrahi over at The North Korea Blog has the following thoughts on The End of North Korea:

You have to hand one thing to North Korea: It knows how to keep us guessing.

Predictions about the end of North Korea keep coming (The Atlantic recently published a terrific article about the long history of wrongly predicting the DPRK’s demise), but the truth about the regime seems to elude most analysts. Still, that won’t stop the best of them from trying to pin down the end of North Korea.

Consider, for instance, Mark P. Barry’s recent post on World Policy Blog:

It’s possible that a process may have recently begun whereby North Korea could eventually shift from totalitarianism (or total control of public and private life) to authoritarianism (with minimal pluralism and autonomy in private life), drawing from the recent experiences of China.

Because when in doubt — and how could Mr. Barry not be, seeing as he’s talking about the world’s most secretive regime — use vague terms. “It’s possible.” “A process.” “May have recently begun.” “Could eventually.” I would love to see someone explain to Kim the difference between totalitarianism and authoritarianism. Better yet, I’d love to see someone explain the difference to a North Korean citizen. I doubt that the distinction, such as it is, is compatible with Red Confucianism…..continue reading this post at The North Korea Blog.

Kim Jong-un Pyongyang Subway

Kim Jong-un in the news at a Pyongyang Metro station – photo by Joseph A Ferris III