Mangyongdae Children’s Palace

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.

Mangyongdae Children's Palace

Young Pioneers sing a martial song during a special Kim Il-sung’s 100th birthday celebratory performance at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace. More pictures from this set linked below.


Old Fashioned Girls

Children's Palace Pyongyang, North Korea

Performance at the Pyongyang Children’s Palace.

Commented on my Flickr“I like this picture, there is a certain old fashioned style in the colors, the postures…..”

I took over 5,000 pictures in North Korea.  The best pictures stood out immediately, many I couldn’t do anything with, and then there were those I discovered later – pictures initially overlooked in the huge file but somehow later to capture my eye and ultimately my heart.  This picture is one of those.  Initially missed but quickly to become a cherished  favorite.

I agree with the above commenter, there is just something old fashioned about North Korea and this picture sums it up perfectly – that’s why I love this picture!

The North Korean Karaoke Boss

North Korean karaoke

Jordan Harbinger and Joseph Ferris singing Careless Whisper in North Korea.

The most happening spot in all of North Korea is the karaoke bar on the 2nd basement floor of the Yanggakdo Hotel. This bar is open to both foreigners and North Koreans (the casino and naughty Chinese massage parlor on the 1st basement floor is foreigners only), and some pretty wild whiskey and soju fueled parties can get rolling there. We spent our first night in North Korea singing all the western Karaoke classics – songs by the Eagles, Queen, and so on, and while flipping though the song books I was hit by a sudden flash of inspiration – George Michael’s Careless Whisper was available, and this HAD to be sung!

I had spent a summer in the Philippines, where Careless Whisper is practically the unofficial national anthem, so I have a soft spot in my heart for that ridiculous song. Back in Beijing, as we waited for our North Korea trip to start, and while hanging out and listening to a Filipino band at a disreputable bar, I got the party started by requesting Careless Whisper. From then on out, Careless Whisper became the trip’s unofficial theme song, with a few notes always to be hummed when some sexy corniness was required.

So back to North Korea – Careless Whisper is on the menu and it HAS to be sung, but unfortunately the North Korean attendants informed me that a queue of 10 or 15 songs had already been requested and I would simply have to wait. I had a gut feeling on how to remedy this, “ladies, I’m the boss! My song WILL be played next!” With Jordan nodding his head to confirm that they were indeed dealing with the boss , and with a look of panic, the North Korean karaoke attendants asked if they should immediately cut off what was playing and start up my important selection. I was feeling quite magnanimous and with a flick of my hand I indicated that they should let the song finish. Damn its fine to be the boss in North Korea – or at least pretend to be!

North Korean Karaoke

All the classics on the menu with 1 Euro Tiger Beer at the Yanggakdo Hotel karaoke joint, North Korea.

"Hungry Eyes" North Korean Karaoke

Only in North Korea will the song “Hungry Eyes” be played to a video of donuts!

North Korea Karaoke

Breaking vases in North Korea.

Drunk in a North Korean Elevator

Lost in the elevator – trying to find my room after a night of North Korean karaoke.