By Contributing Writer Gabriel Mizrahi
North Korea is a staggering place. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s an eerie, perverse, brutal country — this we know well — but it’s also tender, funny and entertaining in a way I have never encountered. It’s the only country where you will visit the corpse of a dictator who still reigns, see a 100,000-person acrobatic spectacle, enjoy a hilarious round of dick jokes over afternoon spelunking, take walks with starving child soldiers, then finish up the day at a shooting range that serves alcohol — and all of this on a peninsula that boasts an enviable gene pool and one of the craziest chapters in history.
If that sounds absurd, it was. And I haven’t even told you about the citizen actors or stand-up comedy yet. The seven days we spent there were insane — and insanely interesting. We were on a straight-up high for a good two months after returning to the States. I think I still am……..Read more at the North Korea Blog.
East meets West in Pyongyang – Photo by Kinabalu
I’m looking for a few good people to help fill a VIP custom trip to North Korea. This is the big one, April 15th is the 100th birthday of the Eternal President Kim Il Sung, and I plan to be there for all the celebrations! Also included on the trip will be first time ever visits to heavy industry sites, and to Pujon, a mysterious location deep in the interior of the country.
We are looking at around 2,000 Euro for the trip + China double entry visa + flight to Beijing. You will be traveling with an exclusive group, so contact me so I can get to know you (so I can screen you) – visas into the country will be tight at this time, so we need to have applications in by Jan.
Check out the proposed itinerary below:
Hello from North Korea!
Thurs 12th April
Flight to Pyongyang (departs Beijing Airport Terminal 2) 14:00. Arrive Pyongyang, meet guides, transfer to hotel via Arch of Triumph. Dinner at hotel. Potonggang Hotel, Pyongyang.
Pyongyang Metro (6 stations), Mansudae Art Studio, Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, Drive to Nampo, Chollima Steel Works, Tae’an Heavy Machine Tool Complex, Tae’an Glass Factory. Hot Spa Resort, Nampo.
West Sea Barrage, Nampo Taekwondo School, return to Pyongyang via Mt Ryonggak for picnic lunch, Shooting Range, Juche Tower, Pyongyang Film Studios, Paradise Department Store and Microbrewery, Kaeson funfair after dinner. Koryo Hotel, Pyongyang.
100th birthday of President Kim Il Sung: Exact nature of events to be confirmed but should include visit to Kumsusan Memorial Palace (Mausoleum of President), Kimilsungia Flower Exhibition, Mansudae Grand Monument, Mangyongdae Funfair, walk in Moranbong Park (where locals go to enjoy their day off), expected mass dance, other celebratory events, MASS GAMES.
Aririang Mass Games
Drive to Wonsan (4 hrs with breaks), lunch at Dongmyong Hotel. Songdowon Schoolchildren’s Camp, walk in central square and around docks. Evening walk along pier (EUR 1 entry). Dongmyong Hotel, Wonsan.
Drive to Hamhung (approx 3 hours) via Wonsan Agricultural University and Tongbong Cooperative Farm, lunch in Hamhung, Kim Il Sung Statue and central park, Native House of Ri Song Gye, drive past Hungnam Fertiliser Factory and Vinalon Factory (not possible to visit but can ask driver to go slowly and take photos from bus), relaxing on beach at Majon Guesthouse. Majon Guesthouse.
Drive to Pujon county deep in the North Korean interior, see stunning mountain scenery and the rural way of life, picnic lunch. Ascend to the top of North Korea’s second highest mountains for an unparalleled view of somewhere that nobody you know has ever laid eyes on, See the spectacular Stone River where thousands of giant boulders form a cascade down the hillside. DPRK’s famous ‘slogan trees’ can also be seen here. Return to Hamhung. Sinhungsan Hotel, Hamhung.
Very early departure to return to Pyongyang. Arrive Pyongyang late afternoon, School Children’s Palace Tour and performance (if time allows). Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang.
Drive to Mt Myohyang (2 hrs), International Friendship Exhibition, Pohyon Buddhist Temple, walking in area (can have picnic lunch – for surcharges see below – or just lunch in hotel) Return to Pyongyang, Museum of Metro Construction, Farewell dinner at Duck BBQ restaurant. Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang.
Farewell dinner at Duck BBQ restaurant
Transfer to airport for flight JS151 to Beijing. 08:55 departure, arrive Beijing approx 10:00. End of tour.
By Contributing Writer Gabriel Mizrahi
The Great Leader Kim Il Sung – Photo by Joseph A Ferris III
There was a point in my trip to North Korea when the gravitas and decorum of the country devolved into madness and hilarity. That point was the Train Museum.
Walk with me through a massive warehouse of Kim-family paraphernalia (the trains were just the opening attraction). Gaze at the cornucopia of paintings of the Great Leader providing crucial “on-the-spot guidance”—lots of smiling and pointing at things—for the construction of railways and bridges. Marvel at the orgy of industrial manufacturing that the Dear Leader thoroughly understands, and possibly invented, for the benefit of his people. Take note of the staples of everyday life that the father-son dream team bestowed upon its country, down to the Adidas running shoes graciously gifted—but then why are they here, in mint condition?—to the country’s grateful athletes.
In a corner room of the Train Museum, we happened upon a painting of the Dear Leader’s mother in a snowy battlefield clutching a baby Kim Jong Il and wielding a gun, which she is presumably pointing at a Japanese imperialist. That is the patriotic multi-tasking of a founding mother in North Korea. No battlefield is too dangerous to bring one’s infant along………….Continue reading this post at The North Korea Blog.
Kim Jong-il loves to look at things! Here is a website with an incredible archive of pictures of Kim Jong-il checking stuff out.
Of course we couldn’t let Kim Jong-il have all the fun, above is Jordan Harbinger looking at kim Jong-il, along with his father the Eternal President, Kim ll-sung, look at a vase.
By Contributing Writer Gabriel Mizrahi
“Good-a evening lay-deez and a-gentlemen,” said our government guide in a vague pastiche of American talk shows. Through the cold eyes of a James Bond villain, he stared at me. “Welcome to Pyongyang.”
My journey to the least-visited country on earth began with a 1980s Soviet jet that carried us—a group of travel junkies hungry for the most epic cultural fix of our lives—from the bustling streets of Beijing to the empty squares of North Korea……Continue reading Pyongyang at The North Korea Blog
Pyongyang Skyline – Photo by Joseph Ferris
- How to travel to North Korea (josephferrispics.wordpress.com)
- Little Kim Jong-II giving “on the spot battlefield guidance!” (josephferrispics.wordpress.com)
- Arirang Mass Games (josephferrispics.wordpress.com)
- My New North Korea Blog (josephferrispics.wordpress.com)
- North Korean Mass Human Mosaics (josephferrispics.wordpress.com)
Yesterday’s most viewed North Korea pic from my Flickr account – below is a picture of myslef in front of the big Kim II-sung statue, Kaesong, North Korea – and a prime example of why I don’t normally let other people use my camera.
Yesterday’s most viewed North Korea pic from my Flickr account – below is a view of the small city of Kaesong (Kaesŏng), North Korea. This picture was taken while holding my 300mm lens nice and study on the walk back from the imposing Kim Il-sung statue that overlooks the city. Kaesong looks amazing, just a few miles north of the DMZ, it was the first destination outside Pyongyang we visited. What I wouldn’t give to have had the chance to walk around and photograph this small city, but alas, we only got to visit museums, statues, stamp shops, and old tombs.
- US Vs North Korea (demagape.wordpress.com)
Dominating the Pyongyang skyline, the North Korean Ryugyong Hotel finally nears completion after 20 years of on and off again construction. I’m not going to badmouth the Ryugyong Hotel any further – I will leave that to this Esquire.com article.
- North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel Exterior Completed (PHOTOS) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Pyongyang Pyramid: The Ryugyong Hotel, located in the… (curbed.com)
- World’s Most Notoriously Unfinished Hotel Finally Opening (Supposedly) [Hotels] (gawker.com)
- Top 10 spookiest buildings around the world (cnn.com)
- One Of The World’s Largest Hotels Is About To Open In North Korea (businessinsider.com)
Jordan Harbinger, fellow traveler on our trip to North Korea, poses the following question to our government guides and minders: “why did she bring the baby into the battle?”
Answer: Little Kim Jong-iI gives “on the spot battlefield guidance!”
Painting of Kim Il-sung , Little Kim Jong-iI, and Kim Jong-Suk (Wife/Mother). If I remember correctly I took this picture (we visited a lot of strange museums – hard to keep them strait) at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, Pyongyang, DPRK, North Korea.
Check out all my North Korea pics at my Flickr Photostream
- Kim Jong-il reveals fondness for dolphins and fancy dogs (telegraph.co.uk)
- NKoreans stock for cold, build to Kim anniversary (sfgate.com)
- Regime change slows in North Korea as threat to region grows – CNN (cnn.com)
- North Korea state media dub heir apparent Kim Jong-un a ‘General’ (telegraph.co.uk)