Friday Grab bag: a little bit of everything

1. Google has uploaded some beautiful new satellite imagery of Pyongyang. Some parts of it are easier to see than others, and I have not gone through it all, but here are some fun, quick discoveries:

1. There appears to be a new aircraft runway in Ryongsong-guyok (룡성구역, 39.127835°, 125.777533°).  Maybe not, but maybe.

2. The Ryugyong Hotel is looking more and more like a space ship:

3. We can see 2012 building construction all over the place.  Below are the new apartments Kim Jong-il recently visited (L) at the foot of Haebang Hill and (R) behind the Central District Market (for artists).

Here and here are the KCNA stories about Kim’s visits to the sites.

Here is a photo of the artist-housing under construction.

The Haebang Hill apartments are built on the former location of the “Monument to the Fallen Fighters of the Korean People’s Army”.  See a picture of this former monument here.


2. DPRK TKD in USA. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, a North Korean Taekwondo team toured the northeastern US this week.  I wish I could have seen one of the shows…but here are some clips from the New York show on Youtube: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part4.

They did a great job and are tremendous athletes.  I hope they are able to return soon–and make it a little further south.


3. DPRK sand animation. This week KCNA posted some very interesting video of a “sand art” demonstration.  Very skilled performance. A viewer was able to rip the video and post it to YouTube.

Pictured above is the “Ryugyong Hotel fireworks” part of the performance.  Part 1 of the piece is here.  Part 2 of the piece is here.  The whole performance is well worth watching. If I could ever be a tourist to the DPRK again, I would want to see one of these performances.

UPDATE: A special thanks to Prof. Stephan Haggard for offering a helpful explication of the piece.

In a similar vein, this piece remains my favorite of the genre (from Ukraine).


2. Kim’s Train (Retro). Last week I posted recent video footage taken from inside Kim Jong-il’s train.  This week I post some retro footage taken in the 1970s(?):

You can see the video here.  The room set up is essentially the same, though Kim’s tastes have obviously changed!


3. The CNC backpack.

Here is the source.  Learn more about CNC here.


4. A North Korean artist reproduced da Vinci’s Last Supper for an art show in Russia. See the Russian-language version of the BBC here (picture-8 ). (h/t L.P.)



2 Responses to “Friday Grab bag: a little bit of everything”

  1. NKeconWatch says:

    Korea Today (2011-12) posted a story about the DPRK’s sand art:

    Some time ago the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre gave a sand-picture show with music, creating a sensation among the audience. When delicate pictures appeared on the screen as the artists made various finger movements to the accompaniment of music, the spectators felt as if they were in a dreamland.Handfuls of sand are scattered on a sheet of glass, then there appears the picture of a face with eyebrows, eyes, a nose and lips on the screen, in less than a minute, all created by the artist’s finger movements. “How wonderful! All sand pictures are lifelike,” the spectators admired in unison.It is not long since sand picturing with music began to be developed in Korea. All of the artists are in their twenties. On the basis of their study of the global trend in the development of sand pictures and their peculiarities, they pooled their wisdom and efforts to create their own methods of representation in the art. They racked their brains to solve the problem of poor definition of sand pictures and strove to invent a picture mode pleasant to the audience. At first, they used only right hands, but later began to use both hands, which was rather toilsome and required much time.After tireless efforts, however, they succeeded, in less than two months, in presenting a sand-picture show based on their own methods of representation. Originally, the sand picture was inferior to pictures drawn on paper or cloth in line, brightness, cubic effect and representation. But those created by the Korean artists are characterized by vividness, emotionality and impressiveness. The show is given to the accompaniment of music played by a group of performers, not by a few players or of recorded music. Besides, two artists draw contrasting objects on the same screen or work together to depict one object, producing a deep impression on the spectators.The Korean artists’ sand picture is also characterized by distinctness, simplicity and fineness typical of Korean paintings. The sand picture Hung Bu and Nol Bu based on the classical novel The Tale of Hung Bu written in the 18th century portrays kindhearted Hung Bu and his wife cutting a large gourd and the greedy behaviours of Nol Bu, his elder brother, as vividly as actual scenes. Another sand picture My Wife based on the song of the same title created recently has won popularity by impressively depicting the scenes of a pretty girl presenting a bouquet to a young discharged soldier and of the couple going ahead towards the brighter future, leading their lovely daughter by the hand.These sand pictures mirror the spirit of the times, and their beautiful and fresh representation helps implant a correct view of life and love for the country in the people’s minds.Kang Un Ju, one of the artists, says, “To keep your feet firmly planted on this land and work hard to gain on the rest of the world—this is our motto today. We’ll exert ourselves still harder to break through the frontiers in the field of stage performance.”Article by Kim Won Nam