Useful websites on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

While I write my next story on the carefully guarded, if not manufactured, ‘secrecy’ of the DPRK in order to entice foreigners (such as the mythical fifth floor of the Yanggakdo Hotel), here are a few useful websites for anyone who may be interested.

The DPRK webpage: the website of the Korea Friendship Association, a group of politically sympathetic people.

The Korean Central News Agency:  for a truly DPRK view of the world.

North Korea Books: where you can get all you want on the DPRK (I bought about 15 books while there, mostly the writings of Kim Il-Sung). This site is currently under maintenance.

While on the subject of books, you can acquire Kim Il-Sung’s Memoirs as well, called With the Century. I am particularly interested in his sympathetic views on Christianity in this series.

A site dedicated to the Pyongyang Metro: I have a t-shirt on the metro, with the slogan ‘Take Me to Paradise’ (Rakwon means paradise and is one of the stations). I got hold of this gem at Koryo’s office in Beijing. It generated immense interest in the DPRK, since it is not available there as yet.

For anyone interested in the uniqueness of the DPRK, there is DPRK Retro, with some great archival stuff.

Tour operators. With more and more people going to the DPRK (now about 10,000 each year), new tour groups have sprung up. Young Pioneers offers budget tours, and they actually sell Stalin t-shirts. They offer some intriguing volunteer tours, working with farmers and so on. Another bunch, based in Beijing, is Koryo Tours. They are the ones with the most experience and probably have the best connections and ability to make things happen.

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6 thoughts on “Useful websites on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

  1. I think one thing that needs to be addressed is the Western propaganda surrounding the so-called “personality cult”. In the few documentaries I’ve seen, generally produced by those not so sympathetic to DPRK, the interviewees very often speak of the “dear leader” and seem to constantly invoke him and even thank him for things like their job or their apartment. A very definite impression is given that north Koreans venerate Kim Jong-un and especially his predecessors as mythical demi-gods.

    I am of course skeptical about the translation and the impression that is given, but is there a grain of truth to this? Do north Koreans really fawn so much over their “dear leader”? And if so, what should we make of it?

    1. Much of the corporate media’s coverage focuses on the speculative antics of the ‘dictator’ and his ‘cult’. My sense is that the he functions as a kind of figure-head, almost above politics and god-like. Indeed, the Koreans with whom I discussed this are open about the ‘sacred’ status of the latest incarnation. It’s a curious feature, especially since it is the first socialist state where it has become dynastic. However, the everyday workings actually seem to rely on the parliament, with its three main parties representing the three classes of the nation: workers, farmers and intellectuals.

  2. Thanks for the links Roland. I couldn’t resist a look at the Metro/Tram pages. Doesn’t look as if they have much car traffic (on those photos) though. Is car ownership rare?
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Car ownership is indeed rare, with most people using bicycles or walking. This has led a curious development, in which North Korea has come to spruik its environmental credentials. What was most refreshing was the near absence of commercial advertising. Instead, the place is peppered with political slogans and posters.

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