Pyongyang fireworks

On October 8, 2010, the DPRK held a large-scale fireworks show on the Taedong River.  The current Google Earth imagery of Pyongyang, taken on October 6, 2010, shows the infrastructure used in the fireworks show:

Click the image to see a larger version in a different window. On the left side of the river near Kim Il-sung Square is a series of new water jets (water cannons) these are used to shoot decorative patterns of water through the air (accompanied by colorful lasers!). The system is approximately 117 meters long, and according to satellite imagery, was installed sometime between December 19, 2009 and October 6, 2010—though footage on Youtube dates to July 18, 2010).  It appears to be a permanent installation which supplements the previously-built dual water cannons that were already in the Taedong River.

In addition to the new water jets, we can see three floating platforms (barges) from which the fireworks were launched. These are temporary structures which can be assembled and disassembled with relative ease. Each platform is approximately 119 meters long. Given available satellite imagery it is unclear where these barges are kept for the remainder of the year.

If any readers have the time or interest in finding out what this kind of hardware would cost in the US, I would be interested in knowing.

This new fireworks system is apparently made possible by the productive powers of CNC technology.  According to KCNA:

New Fireworks Developed

Pyongyang, October 6 (KCNA) — More than 100 kinds of new fireworks have been developed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

They, based on the three elements of the modern fireworks technology — software, ignition control device and firecrackers — have reached a high level in color, brightness and formative artistry.

All the technologies and materials needed for the new fireworks have been developed and made in Korea.

The fireworks, multi-dimensional in fire cycle, rhythmic display and bursting point and scope in the air, fully represent the feelings of the Korean people.

Meanwhile, a CNC-based fireworks displaying system has been established and a device developed to definitely guarantee fireworks display in any atmospheric conditions.

The new fireworks, which have been successfully tested on several occasions, will make their debut in the forthcoming holiday of the Korean people.

Here is what KCNA had to say about the fireworks show which tookplace two days after this picture was taken:

Firework galas celebrating the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea were held here Friday evening.

The bank of the River Taedong facing the Party Founding Memorial Tower and the plaza of the Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace, the venues of the firework galas, and other areas of Mangyongdae District and different parts of the capital city were crowded with Pyongyangites who came to watch the nocturnal sky in October to be beautifully decorated with fireworks.

Speeches were made by Kim Ki Nam and Choe Thae Bok, who are members of the Political Bureau and secretaries of the Central Committee of the WPK.

The speakers said that the firework galas would be a festival of glory in glorifying the long history and immortal exploits of the party and a grand canvas of victory stirring up the pride and self-esteem of the service persons and people of the DPRK working fresh miracles and exploits in the era of Songun as befitting the descendants of President Kim Il Sung.

They noted that the firework galas would be held by use of Korean style modern means for displaying fireworks developed in such a unique manner as to ensure formative artistic effect as required by the Korean people’s ideological and emotional desire and sentiment.

Fireworks were displayed in succession in the air over the Party Founding Memorial Tower and the Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace, gorgeously adorning the nocturnal sky of the capital city while songs “Long Live the Workers’ Party of Korea” and “Under the Banner of the Party” reverberated far and wide.

The spectacular sceneries presented by fireworks in the sky represented the highest glory extended by all the servicepersons and people to General Secretary Kim Jong Il.

An endless fire went up depicting the logo of the WPK to the tune of songs including “We Sing of the Party” and “The Care of the Party Is the House We Live in,” “The Workers’ Party Is Our Guide”.

Fireworks were ceaselessly displayed in the sky presenting fantastic sceneries demonstrative of the high level of formative art, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Watching the firework galas were senior officials of the party, army and state, chairpersons of friendly parties, delegates participating in the national celebrations of the 65th birthday of the WPK, anti-Japanese revolutionary fighters, officials of the party, armed forces and power bodies and working people’s organizations, servicepersons of the Korean People’s Army and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces, officials in the fields of science, education, culture and arts, public health and media, heroes and heroines, those related to the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle, bereaved families of the revolutionary martyrs, persons of merit and other working people.

Invited there were members of congratulatory groups of overseas compatriots, delegations and visiting groups of Koreans from different parts of the world including the congratulatory group of Koreans in Japan, the chief of the Pyongyang mission of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front, delegations and delegates of groups for the study of the Juche idea and diplomatic envoys of different countries, representatives of international organizations, members of the military attaches corps and other foreign guests here.


2 Responses to “Pyongyang fireworks”

  1. Bigfan says:


    I’ve been reading a long time, I’m a big fan of what you do, I think it’s very clever, and very cool.  Keep up the good work.

    I find myself wondering just how you do all this.  Do you go through satellite images that are years apart and just look for differences?  Follow NK news and then look it up on satellite images?  
    Also, where do you get all these images?  Especially the satellite ones.

    I understand if you don’t want to reveal trade secrets, it just seems so cool.


    Long time reader

  2. Anonymous says:

    North Korea seems to use CNC to mean any kind of computerisation or automation, so “CNC-based fireworks displaying system” probably just means that the fireworks are set off by a computer rather than manually.