Posts tagged “photo

Fall 2013 Pyongyang Traffic Girl

Latest round of Pyongyang traffic girl pics from my October trip:








Gift Photos To The Girls Of The Rason Foreign Language Institute

I spent some time last spring practicing conversational English with the girls of the Rason Foreign Language Institute. On my return I gifted them photos from the first visit:

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The girls checking out the photos.


The girls checking out the photos.

Rason Foreign Language School North Korea

Gift photo from my first visit.

Rason Foreign Language School North Korea

Gift photo from my first visit.

The children we interact with at the Rason Foreign Language Institute are aged 13-15, and are chosen to converse with us because they rank the top of their class. Shy at first, the girls quickly warm up by asking questions about family life in the United States, asking about our favorite colors, sports, hobbies, and animals. I keep it simple and ask them similar questions, learning that they enjoy swimming, reading, piano, and watching cartoons. Most of the girls want to be teachers when the grow up; they all hope to someday live in Pyongyang.

Back From Rason Special Economic Zone, North Korea

I just returned from the Rason SEZ of North Korea on a private business trip, and although it was mainly meetings with officials, I still had time to visit some sites and get some great pics!


Girl swinging at the Rason sea park – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

Pyongyang Zoo

Located at the base of the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery, next to the Botanical Gardens, and serviced by the Rakwon Metro stop, the Pyongyang Zoo makes for a lovely visit. The Zoo is open daily, but weekends are an especially good time to visit as the zoo will be busy with locals on their day off, providing tourists with lots of relaxed opportunities to interact.

The zoo is nice by Asian standards. It is well stocked with most animals you would expect, and some surprises, such as sections for domestic cats and domestic dogs. Commonly found on most pens are signs describing how the animal on display was donated by Kim Jong Il. Opportunities to trot around the grounds on ponies and camels are available for those daring enough. The Pyongyang Zoo is not included on most itineraries, but a visit can be easily arranged provided available time in your itinerary.

Pyongyang Zoo Dog Pen

A lonly St. Bernard.

Pyongyang Zoo Dog Pen

Dalmatians donated by Kim Jong Il.

Pyongyang Zoo Dog Pen

Dalmatians donated by Kim Jong Il.

Pyongyang Zoo

Young Pioneers at bird cages.

Pyongyang Zoo

Pony cart rides.

Pyongyang Zoo

Pyongyang Zoo duck pond.

Pyongyang Vendor

Ice cream vendor.

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Pony rides.

North Korean Propaganda

Zoo construction site propaganda art.

Photos by Joseph A Ferris III

North Korean Graffiti

Graffiti that I found under a bridge at Inner Mt. Chilbo, North Korea.





Pyongyang Viennese Coffee Shop

Getting your caffeine fix in North Korea can be quite a challenge. A tasteless cup of instant coffee is usually provided with hotel breakfasts, and a cup of instant can be mixed up for a Euro at the various rest stops and lunch/dinner restaurants. But coffee lovers don’t despair; a proper latte or cappuccino can be had at the Viennese Coffee Shop located off Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung square. The coffee shop is open for tourists and doesn’t require a prearranged permit, just ask your guides if there is time to stop by.

Pyongyang Viennese Coffee Shop

While located in Pyongyang, a latte at the Viennese Coffee Shop will cost as much as one goes for in the Austrian capital!




Not only does this lovely North Korea barista whip up a great cappuccino, she is also a champion foosball (table football) player. Ask her to play a couple games; an hour of foosball at the table in the back room goes for a Euro.

Late September Rason SEZ Trip

Join Young Pioneer Tours founder Gareth Johnson and I for a late September VIP business interests trip to the Rason Special Economic Zone of North Korea.


Jets, missiles, and tanks at a Rason SEZ kindergarten playground.

We are still finalizing itinerary details and dates, but in addition to planned meetings with officials (perfect for those interested in the opening up of the DPRK economy), we will visit the Triangle Bank, the only place in North Korea where it is permitted for tourists to change the Korean Won at the “street” rate, and visit the Rason public market, the only place where you can legally spend your newly acquired Won – truly unique experiences!

We are only taking a limited amount of travelers on this trip, but spaces are available.  I will post the dates (probably heading there around Sept 23rd), price, and itinerary as soon as I get them confirmed by the North Koreans.  Email me at for more info.

Pics from my May 2013 trip to Rason SEZ:


With kindergarten students after a performance.


A hike to revolutionary sites on Musk Dear Mountain.

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A close look at North Korean ships at the Rason port.


Seafood I bought with local currency at the Rason public market.


With North Korean guide Mr. Moon at the monument to Ri Song Sin – builder of the Turtle Boat.

Military Fashion

If Looks Could Kill

Female soldier wearing high heels – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

Super Cute Kindergarten Performance


Chongjin City kindergarten performance – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

Pyongyang Military Circus Trapeze


A trapeze artist prepares for the Pyongyang Military Circus finale – the inspiration for the film Comrade Kim Goes Flying?

Comrade Kim Yong Mi is a North Korean coal miner. Her dream of becoming a trapeze artist is crushed by the arrogant trapeze star Pak Jang Phil who believes miners belong underground and not in the air.

My friends at the Koryo Group continue showing the film around the world at select film festivals.  Don’t miss it at the Sydney Film Festival, June 5th – 16th, and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, June 19th – 30th.

With all the action just a blur I put my camera down to concentrate on enjoying the show; readers will just have to be content with more pics of the finale setup:

Pyongyang Military Circus, North Korea









Pyongyang Traffic Girl


Pyongyang traffic girl at the  intersection near the foreign language bookshop – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

Kindergarten Missile

Kindergarten Missile Chongjin, North Korea

Painting of the North Korea’s recent successful missile launch at a Chongjin Kindergarten.

Propaganda? Or a celerbrarion of a milestone in North Korea’s technological advancement?

photo by Joseph A Ferris III

Pyongyang Traffic Girl

Pyongyang Traffic Girl

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I really like the traffic girls of Pyongyang.

When we asked our North Korean guides if the traffic girls are aware of their world wide fame we were told they do but don’t really like the notoriety.  Some of the girls fear the fame will go to their heads and distract them from their job of keeping the streets of Pyongyang safe.

Photo by Joseph A Ferris III

Water Skiing in Pyongyang

Water Skiing in Pyongyang, North Korea

As the western media whips up fear of a North Korean nuclear armageddon, people in Pyongyang are water skiing the Taedong River – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

Rare Images Show A Side Of North Korea That Outsiders Rarely See

North Korean Guide "Crazy" Kim

A nice write up about me in Business Insider:

Joseph Ferris doesn’t want to settle down.

Ferris earned himself a US Coast Guard 3rd Mate Unlimited license from Maine Maritime Academy, and took a job on a global class research ship.

There was just one problem: the job was seven months on with five months vacation.

“While on the ship, room and board goes with the job; I found keeping an apartment and all the trappings of a settled life is a waste of money,” Ferris told Business Insider.

So he took another job, as a tour guide … in North Korea.

Read more and check out a slideshow of my photos at Business Insider.

I leave for my first spring trip out of a possible 5 visits to North Korea on March 30th; I will be live blogging there on the new Koryolink 3G network.  Remember to not only follow me here on WordPress, but also live from North Korea on Twitter @JosephFerrisIII, Facebook, and Instagram (coming soon).

Tour Transnistria!

This fall I will be continuing my tour of countries that don’t actually exist with a visit to Transnistria while helping out on Young Pioneer Tour’s month long Eurasian Adventure Tour.

The journey there will be an epic two week adventure from Beijing to Moscow on the Trans Siberian Express, touring through Belarus and Chernobyl in the Ukraine, and finally spending a few days in Moldova, the only ex-Soviet republic to vote the communists back in!

Phil Le Gal visited Transnistria on one of Young Pioneer Tour’s Eurasian Adventure Tours.  He has graciously allowed me to share his photos and comments on the experience:

Only a couple of hours away from Europe’s biggest cities exist countries we know very little about.  Sitting between western and eastern Europe is Transnistria, the “Prydnistrovska Moldavska Respublika” (also called Trans-Dniestr or Transdniestria).  Tucked between Moldova and neighboring Ukraine, Transinistria is an unknown and officially non-existent territory.

After the fall of the USSR Transnistria found itself integrated to Moldova.  Transnistria proclaimed its independence in 1990 which led to the 1990-1992 independence war between the breakaway republic of Transnistria, backed by the Russia and the republic of Moldova.  Although the ceasefire has held, the territory’s political status remains unresolved.  The outcome of the war was the birth of the republic of Transnistria.

Transnistria is currently only recognized by three UN non-members: Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia, themselves part of the list of states with limited recognition and not recognized by the international community.  Transnistria has its own constitution, parliament, central bank and money (the transnistrian rubble), army, flag, national anthem, passports and even stamps.  Still it is officially considered as being part of the Moldovan territory.

The border between Moldova and Transnistria, although not recognized, is very real with several checkpoints from both Transinistrian and Moldavian guards.  The Prydnistrovska Moldavska Respublika boast many of the USSR relics, war memorials and soviet era style architecture.

Welcome to Transnistria, Europe’s forgotten country:


A young Moldovan army recruit proudly guards the eternal flame at the war memorial Eternity.
It is dedicated to the soldiers who fell in World War II and the military conflict in Transnistria.


The biggest statue of Vladimir Lenin outside Russia is displayed in front of the Transnistrian parliament. According to the 2006 referendum 97.2% of the population voted in favor of “independence from Moldova and free association with Russia”. EU and several other countries didn’t acknowledge these results.


 A man is wearing a traditional costume.


Tiraspol – Transnistria (Moldova). Entrance of Tiraspol’s central Pobedi Park (or “Victory” park) containing a 50’s style amusement park.


Remains from the war, like this Russian MIG plane are left outside rusting.

All photos by Phil Le Gal.

Phil Le Gal is a French documentary photographer based in London UK specializing in photo documentary, reportage and portraiture.  He is passionate about stories, travels, revealing how others live, the contradictions and oddities of this world.  He is currently undertaking a Master in Photojournalism and Documentary photography at the London college of Communication.

You can get in touch with him here or visit
You can also find him on facebook :

Interested in joining me for the 2013 Eurasian Adventure Tour?  Email me at and I will set you up with a 5% trip discount!

Faces of North Korea

A high quality YouTube North Korea slideshow by ingoophotography.

March 30th – April 6th North Korea Trip


Come see the Ryugyong “Hotel of Doom” –  Photo by Joseph A Ferris III

I will be going to North Korea in just 6 weeks!

Be assured that for the tourism industry it’s still business as usual – the boss at Young Pioneer Tours, who is entering the DPRK today, says:

It has just been reported that seismic activity has been reported in the area where the previous test happened, thus suggesting a third nuclear test from the DPRK.

Apparently it was a 4.9 magnitude test, and whilst there has been no official response from the DPRK, it sounds like it was a success.

This will not affect our upcoming Kim Jong Il Birthday Tour, which far from being cancelled will have us in the country during what will obvioulsy be a very interesting time.

And whilst these incidents always bring talk of sanctions, or strained relations with other countries, it is our experience that it does not, and should not affect the tourist industry, with our 2013 program going ahead as planned.

I had a fully booked trip but this nuke test caused a few people to drop out – there is still time for those brave enough to join me!

March 30th – April 6th: Pyongyang, Nampo, Sariwan, Kaesong, and Mt. Myohyang – 1395 Euro.

We have two weeks until the deadline for the visa applications – serious inquires only.

I have posted the full itinerary for this trip in the comments.

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

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.


Kids Being Kids!

Children at play and out enjoying a sunny spring Pyongyang morning at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum.

Pyongyang Children

Pyongyang, North Korea Rollerblading

Pyongyang Roller Blading

Pyongyang Roller Blading

Pyongyang Roller Blading

Pyongyang Roller Blading

Pyongyang Roller Blading

Pyongyang Rollerblading

Photos by Joseph A Ferris III

Small Town Juche

No tool is too humble in the struggle for self reliance – from my own interpretation of Juche Idea.

Hamhung, DPRK, North Korea

Locals get by with what they have; transportation by hand cart in the small North Korean city of Hamhung – photo by Joseph A Ferris III

Pyongyang Smiles

During preparations for my first trip to the DPRK I watched all of the online documentaries I could find, from dreary hit pieces on the DPRK Government to over sensationalized video travel guides, and common to them all was the depiction of a sad, colorless, and lifeless North Korea.  But by coming to the DPRK myself I experienced something different; I found Pyongyang to be a clean, bright, colorful, and orderly city, with a people that smile, laugh, and despite the language barrier, interact with foreigners with a shy curiosity.

Sharing my pictures of the DPRK and its people is what this blog is all about. I’m trying to present a different perspective compared to the impressions put out there by the main stream media.  I don’t deny that there are human rights violations, but there’s already plenty of material out there to explore on those issues. Instead I wish to pass on what I observed during my travels in the DPRK: that despite the hardships and pressures the North Korean people endure (whatever they may be), they remain a very human people, and just like us they love life and share the simple hopes and dreams common to all humanity.

The people of Pyongyang smile – below are pictures taken during the festivities and celebrations for 100th birthday of ‘Eternal President’ Kim Il-sung – all photos by Joseph A Ferris III

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

During the week of celebrations for the 100th birthday of ‘Eternal President’ Kim Il-sung, mass parades and celebratory gatherings were quite common.  These events were not normally open to foreigners, but often we got caught stuck in traffic jams as tens of thousands of people clogged the roads on their way home.  During these times our guides were gracious enough to let us interact with the people, here young boys wave and smile on their walk home.

Pyongyang Street Scene

Young girls laugh and smile while walking home from school.

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

Boys from a brigade of Young Pioneers enjoy an ice cream snack at a local park.

Pyongyang Roller Blading

Young girls smile while taking a break from an afternoon of rollerblading.

USS Pueblo Guide

Sharing a laugh with our guide on the USS Pueblo.

Pyongyang Subway

A cheerful Pyongyang Metro ticket attendant.

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

A festive spirit pervades the crowds at a mass gathering in Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung square.

Pyongyang 100th Year Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations

A festive spirit pervades the crowds at a mass gathering in Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung square.

North Korean Children’s Nearly Unbelievable Performances

I am here to apologize for my lack attention to this blog as of late.  I have been super busy with my duties as Chief Mate during short oceanographic research expeditions, hectic in port ship maintenance periods, and now working a crazy cruise on a full ship with over 50 scientists and crew – with that many people aboard available satellite internet bandwidth is in low supply making even the most general web surfing an agonizing chore.

I have also been busy planning a fall trip to Iran, Armenia, and Lebanon, along with two and a half weeks in Tuscany, Sicily, and Malta with my family.

Since I have been too busy to get any serious writing done (relatively recent picture posts don’t count), please let me at least pass along a DPRK post by my friend Joshua Spodek:  North Korean Children’s Nearly Unbelievable Performances – insights on children’s performances at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace.

Mangyongdae Children's Palace North Korea

A young lady dances at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace – this photo got me an honorable mention by the moderator of the Lonely Planet Flickr Photo Challenge.