Pyongyang night life

According to Sify News:

Life in Pyongyang, capital city of North Korea, is boisterous and fun-filled even as the country is threatened with military action from the West due to its nuclear programme, reports Xinhua.

Screams from roller coaster rides, karaoke and clink of beer glasses at night clubs seem to be quite a picture of metropolitan areas like New York, Tokyo or Beijing.

Well, make no mistake. This is what actually happens at night in Pyongyang.

Though without dazzling neon signs, the hustle and bustle of discos or the notorious red-light districts, night life in Pyongyang is not cloaked in silence.

Built in the 1980s in Pyongyang’s Moranbong area, the Kaeson Youth Park used to operate only a handful of simple rides and was open to the public only during the daytime and on holidays. With a restoration being done by authorities, tourists can now have fun, even at night, with an Italy-made ‘jumping machine’, pirate ship and roller coaster being rated at the top by visitors.

There are also video-game lounges, where children were seen shooting flying saucers and racing cars.

‘Over 5,000 people visited the park every night. And it is a good place for people to be relaxed after a day’s work,’ Kim Hyok, the park’s director, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

While a visit to the park is not free of charge, it does not cost that much either.

An adult ticket costs 20 won (21 cents) and one for a child 10 won. And it costs about 250 won or $2.65 to take part in all the facilities. For foreigners, however, the ticket costs one euro ($1.27).

Even though electricity is in short supply in North Korea, authorities have specially laid two cables to guarantee regular service to the park.

Karaoke – popularly known in Pyongyang as ‘film-accompanied music’ – is another popular night time entertainment.

Even the country’s leader, Kim Jong Il, has supported popularising karaoke as he says it was a good way to make the lives of all people varied and rich.

In many restaurants in the capital city, karaoke as well as popular music is played for the pleasure of customers. To liven things up, waitresses are also trained to sing.

Beer bars and pubs are also reporting huge turnouts as night falls upon Pyongyang.

Bars are seen filled with laughter, cheers, and the aroma of tasty homemade beer.

The Qingxing beer house, Pyongyang’s largest bar, opened in April this year with a capacity of 1,000 people.

While retired people and housewives are seen in the daytime, government officials, public servants and workers would arrive after office hours.

Interestingly, the beer bar prepares only tables for customers and provides no chairs. Drinkers have to stand, while waiters serve beverages in carts.

During summer, the beer bar receives an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 customers per day.

Meanwhile, in a bid to attract more female customers, the Taedong Beer Brewhouse, which produces beer in a Pyongyang surburb, was preparing a fruity flavour.

Read the full story here:
North Korean capital has a night life – minus the dazzle
Sify News
9/12/2010

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  • Ben

    I find this interesting but very surprising! While I was in Pyongyang last November, I had a completely different impression. During the evening, when driving back to my hotel with my driver and two guides, the whole city seemed to be dark and sleepy. Few people were walking in the streets, and I don’t remember coming across anything that could be seen as nightlife.

    I don’t doubt there are places to have fun for North Koreans, but this article makes it sound as if it’s almost on par with Seoul…I wonder if the entertainment venues are all located in the same small area…Curtis, did you have a similar impression from your trips to Pyongyang?

  • a listener

    No surprise Ben, this report comes from Xinhua. The reporter has to make it look fluffier.

  • James

    There are many restaurants/bars hidden away in non-descript buildings, that you would never suspect, where I am sure a lot of carousing goes on among the more privileged set, however I too have a problem with the descriptions provided as it matches nothing I have seen.

  • Gag Halfrunt

    Is “Pyongyang’s largest bar” really called the Qingxing beer house, or has a Korean name been mangled into Mandarin?

  • Gag–I think you hit the nail on the head. I believe this is the Chinese name of a Korean restaurant that derives its name from those Chinese characters. I might have located it already, but translating the names requires some coordination.

  • Ron

    Cheongseong (Bright Star) Beer House? Qingxing might have been the obliging NK interpreter’s response to Xinhua’s question: what does Cheongseong mean in Chinese? My two cents.

  • Alex

    Hmm. My Korean is really too limited to offer much to this. However, I can think of a few meanings for ‘qingxing’ in Chinese – ‘celebrate’/’rejoice’ (庆幸) is the most obvious (and likely) that I can think of, though there is also ‘fully aware’ (清醒). Cheongseong (청성) means ‘auditory’ apparently, so I can think of no obvious link between that and any meaning of ‘qingxing’ – though it is, of course, entirely possible and likely that there is a meaning of ‘qingxing’ which I do not know. All considered, I think Ron’s explanation is the most likely!


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