Back to North Korea 3 years later.
The country has changed a LOT. There are cars now, gas stations, food in the stores, Pyongyang is thriving and the economy seems to pick up a positive trend. This time I managed to get to the coast and visit several other spots but unfortunately Mt Kumgan which was the highlight of the tour was shot down as the plane was used by the governement without early notice. Maybe I’ll do it another time. Trips to the DPRK are expensive though.
Globally speaking the conditions are improving and I found our tour guides much more at ease and open than in 2015. We were pretty free this time and could even take a walk around the hotel at night. One big highlight was the possibility to access a supermarket in downtown Pyongyang which actually was forbidden to picture but we could go on a shopping spree. The Euro gives you a devilish purchasing power and given the prices it was clearly a place reserved for the upper class citizens. Very similar to the past Soviet Union from the 70’s.
One memorable evening were the Mass Games. Never seen such a massive unbelievable complex and rich choregraphy. It’s an unseen spectacle with thousands of actors on stage and all backed by the living pixels : a wall of 10.000 pupils that animate large colored cardboard panels within a second to compose a backdrop picture. This alone is so stunning you can’t imagine what this looks like. It’s better to see it in video here. The stadium where these events take place is probably one of the biggest in the world.
We went twice there and on the first evening the small group of tourists were searched for every metallic item and we came in empty handed. BUT we saw the supreme leader and this was something. On the following evening we could go back fully equipped and this time shoot plenty of pictures.
We also toured the countryside, usual places of power like Myohangsan’s storage rooms and spent also time at the border with this time the blue barracks of Panmunjom being closed as the americans locked them from inside. Very interesting were the walk through Kaesong in the streets even if we ended up in some movie decor made for tourists. It’s still difficult to get into touch with the population and see the real life but things are nevertheless improving even if the days where tourists will be allowed to get around on their own are definitely still far away. Let alone the infrastructures aren’t there yet.
In Pyongyang I could do probably the first Lightpainting session ever made in this country. Short but fun too. We also had a chance to do some night shots downtown which was also a priviledge. Last but not least and this is also something completely new : seeing the soldiers driving back home from the military parade. Thousands of soldiers were driving home in trucks greeting the crowds and leaving us baffled by the number of trucks. It was endless but pics were good !
Enjoy the pics !