Archive for the ‘Mass games’ Category

North Korea on Google Earth v.18

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

North Korea Uncovered version 18 is available.  This Google Earth overlay maps North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks.

This project has now been downloaded over 140,000 times since launching in April 2007 and received much media attention last month following a Wall Street Journal article highlighting the work.

Note: Kimchaek City is now in high resolution for the first time.  Information on this city is pretty scarce.  Contributions welcome.

Additions to this version include: New image overlays in Nampo (infrastructure update), Haeju (infrastructure update, apricot trees), Kanggye (infrastructure update, wood processing factory), Kimchaek (infrastructure update). Also, river dredges (h/t Christopher Del Riesgo), the Handure Plain, Musudan update, Nuclear Test Site revamp (h/t Ogle Earth), The International School of Berne (Kim Jong un school), Ongjin Shallow Sea Farms, Monument to  “Horizon of the Handure Plain”, Unhung Youth Power Station, Hwangnyong Fortress Wall, Kim Ung so House, Tomb of Kim Ung so, Chungnyol Shrine, Onchon Public Library, Onchon Public bathhouse, Anbyon Youth Power Stations.


Friday Fun: Tourism, humor, and keeping up with the Joneses

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

koryotourslogo.jpgKoryo Tours has notified the world that the DPRK will be putting on the Arirang Mass Games again this summer.  American tourists will be allowed to attend–click here to book your tourMost other passport holders can opt for a longer visit–click here to check out the dates and locations.   I saw the mass games in 2005, and it is something I will never forget.


Someone posted a North Korean comedy routine on Youtube.  If you have ever wondered if North Korean women wear Kim Jong il jumpers, consider the question resolved…though I am still not sure how funny it is.



My local Korean language expert cannot understand the dialect over the audience noise and the music, so if any viewers out there know what it is about, please post in the comments below.  Here is an older post of North Korean (and other communist) jokes.

Keeping up with the Joneses:
The Guardian published a humorous comparison between the North and South Korean ambassadors in London.  Check out the PDF here.


North Korea Google Earth

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

North Korea Uncovered v.16
Download it here


The most recent version of North Korea Uncovered (North Korea Google Earth) has been published.  Since being launched, this project has been continuously expanded and to date has been downloaded over 32,000 times.

Pictured to the left is a statue of Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This statue, as well as many others identified in this version of the project, was built by the North Koreans. According to a visitor:

From the neck down, the Kabila monument looks strangely like Kim Jong Il: baggy uniform, creased pants, the raised arm, a little book in his left hand. From the neck up, the statue is the thick, grim bald mug of Laurent Kabila (his son Joseph is the current president). “The body was made in North Korea,” explains my driver Felix. In other words, the body is Kim Jong Il’s, but with a fat, scowling Kabila head simply welded on.

This is particularly interesting because there are no known pictures of a Kim Jong il statue.  The only KJI statue that is reported to exist is in front of the National Security Agency in Pyongyang.  If a Kim Jong il statue does in fact exist, it might look something like this.

Thanks again to the anonymous contributors, readers, and fans of this project for your helpful advice and location information. This project would not be successful without your contributions.

Version 16 contains the following additions: Rakwon Machine Complex, Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory, Manpo Restaurant, Worker’s Party No. 3 Building (including Central Committee and Guidance Dept.), Pukchang Aluminum Factory, Pusan-ri Aluminum Factory, Pukchung Machine Complex, Mirim Block Factory, Pyongyang General Textile Factory, Chonnae Cement Factory, Pyongsu Rx Joint Venture, Tongbong Cooperative Farm, Chusang Cooperative Farm, Hoeryong Essential Foodstuff Factory, Kim Ki-song Hoeryong First Middle School , Mirim War University, electricity grid expansion, Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground (TSLG)” is also known as the “Musudan-ri Launching Station,” rebuilt electricity grid, Kumchang-ri suspected underground nuclear site, Wangjaesan Grand Monument, Phothae Revolutionary Site, Naedong Revolutionary Site, Kunja Revolutionary Site, Junggang Revolutionary Site, Phophyong Revolutionary Site, Samdung Revolutionary Site, Phyongsan Granite Mine, Songjin Iron and Steel Complex (Kimchaek), Swedish, German and British embassy building, Taehongdan Potato Processing Factory, Pyongyang Muyseum of Film and Theatrical Arts, Overseas Monuments built by DPRK: Rice Museum (Muzium Padi) in Malaysia, Statue de Patrice Lumumba (Kinshasa, DR Congo), National Heroes Acre (Windhoek, Namibia), Derg Monument (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), National Heroes Acre (Harare, Zimbabwe), New State House (Windhoek, Namibia), Three Dikgosi (Chiefs) Monument (Gaborone, Botswana), 1st of May Square Statue of Agostinho Neto (Luanda, Angola), Momunment Heroinas Angolas (Luanda, Angola), Monument to the Martyrs of Kifangondo Battle (Luanda, Angola), Place de l’étoile rouge, (Porto Novo, Benin), Statue of King Béhanzin (Abomey, Benin), Monument to the African Renaissance (Dakar, Senegal), Monument to Laurent Kabila [pictured above] (Kinshasa, DR Congo).

Mass Games to be repeated in fall 2009

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

According to a recent email from Koryo Tours, the DPRK plans to repeat the Arirang Mass Games performance in August-September (and possibly October). According to the email:

We have been informed by our partners in Pyongyang that they fully expect the Mass Games of 2009 to go ahead during the period of August to September (and possibly on into October as usually happens), this news is not totally confirmed (we will keep you updated) but we have full confidence that the event will take place and as a result are scheduling tours to witness this spectacular performance in the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea.

For those of you who have travelled with us before do drop us a line as we can arrange a ‘second timers’ tour to include new tour sites. During the Mass Games period we have trips to the east cost (North Korea’s Costa del Sol) and to Mount Paekdu and Mount Chilbo.
American tourists will also be welcome in North Korea at this time of the year (US citizens can only obtain tourist visas when the Mass Games are on) and so as usual we have designed a full range of tours specifically for Americans. As with previous years the DPRK will likely enforce a time limit on US tours of 4 nights and also restrict American tourists to only enter and depart the country by plane, if however the opportunity to stay longer and to take the international train arises we will of course alter our tours to allow that option to be taken by anyone who wants it.

If you are interested in touring the DPRK this summer, visit the Koryo Tours web site here.  They also offer a tour of Turkmensitan which is worthwhile!


North Korea on Google Earth

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

North Korea Uncovered: Version 12
Download it here

mayday.JPGAbout this Project: This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, energy infrastructure, political facilities, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, national parks, shipping, mining, and railway infrastructure. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the 12th version.

Additions include: Tongch’ang-dong launch facility overlay (thanks to Mr. Bermudez), Yongbyon overlay with destroyed cooling tower (thanks to Jung Min Noh), “The Barn” (where the Pueblo crew were kept), Kim Chaek Taehung Fishing Enterprise, Hamhung University of education, Haeju Zoo, Pyongyang: Kim il Sung Institute of Politics, Polish Embassy, Munsu Diplomatic Store, Munsu Gas Station, Munsu Friendship Restaurant, Mongolian Embassy, Nigerian Embassy, UN World Food Program Building, CONCERN House, Czech Republic Embassy, Rungnang Cinema, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Pyongyang Number 3 Hospital, Electric Machines Facotry, Bonghuajinlyoso, Second National Academy of Sciences, Central Committee Building, Party Administration Building, Central Statistics Bureau, Willow Capital Food House, Thongounjong Pleasure Ground, Onpho spa, Phipa Resort Hotel, Sunoni Chemical Complex (east coast refinery), Ponghwa Chemical complex (west coast refinery), Songbon Port Revolutionary Monument, Hoeryong People’s Library, Pyongyang Monument to the anti Japanese martyrs, tideland reclamation project on Taegye Island. Additionally the electricity grid was expanded and the thermal power plants have been better organized. Additional thanks to Ryan for his pointers.

I hope this map will increase interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to receiving your contributions to this project.

Version 12 available: Download it here


Mass Games to run through October 10

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

According to a recent update from Koryo Tours, this year’s mass games have been extended through October 10th, which is the 63rd Party Founding Day.

This might be the last time for Americans to visit Pyongyang until 2012.


DPRK: Interesting observations

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Iason Athanasiadis, an Istanbul-based writer and photographer, recently visited the DPRK to see the Arirang performance.  He wrote about his trip in The National.  Below are some highlights:


Often referred to as the world’s final frontier, North Korea accepts just under 2000 Western tourists every year and offers residency to a handful of foreign businessmen. Barely 100 Western foreigners live in Pyongyang, including diplomats and businessmen.

Doing Business in Pyongyang:

Waiting to have my bags X-rayed I bumped into a European permanent resident, a cheerful trader who imported computer parts from China into North Korea. Once a month, he said, he travels to Shenyang to stock up on monitors, laptops and motherboards. In North Korea, he “donates or sells them at no profit”. His hope is that, when North Korea opens up, he will be well-positioned to profit handsomely from the new economy. Since he didn’t come across as a staunch advocate of Communist ideals, I assumed he was reaping some additional profit from his sojourn in Pyongyang, about which he remained modest.

He described Pyongyang as like any other large city, but with cleaner air. Entry into North Koreans’ houses is banned, as is leaving the city for the countryside without permission and an escort. Romantic relations with North Korean women are similarly prohibited. The only locals who would come to his parties are business associates. Looking through the windows, he talked about the small, unmarked jet parked in the runway that he thought contained American nuclear inspectors.

“They’re very intelligent, thinking people,” the European businessman said of the North Koreans. “They are all independent thinkers. But they’re also split personalities, they compartmentalise their thoughts. Even I’ve brainwashed myself when I’m here. I self-censor.”

Later, he sent me an e-mail quoting a Cold War-era Sting song titled Russians whose refrain runs “We share the same biology; Regardless of ideology.” “You give a smile, they give a smile and the world is in peace,” he wrote. “And I can tell you: the Koreans do love their children.”


The lack of perspective in their cloistered lives became clearer at night, when the guides invited me into the hotel bar to review the pictures I had taken during the day. How were these men, who had never set foot in the West, supposed to judge what did or did not depict North Korea in a negative light? Innocuous pictures – like one of men squatting on the pavement with a portrait of the Great Leader in the distant background – were deleted, while photos that showed what any outsider would immediately recognise as rampant poverty and societal breakdown barely caught their eye.


The night before the opening performance of the Games, I sat in my room, listening to the sounds of Pyongyang slumbering. The DPRK is subject to a permanent curfew. A central switch turns off lights inside apartments shortly after the day’s last radio broadcast. That night, the only light came from the May Day stadium, where last-moment preparations continued for Arirang’s opening night. The only sounds coming through the open window were of bricks tumbling on some distant construction site. Some lights winked in the dark buildings. A parade ground drill rhythm wafted from the stadium. Then, all sounds stopped, aside from the breeze, an occasional ship’s horn, and the repetitive monotone of metal striking metal, as if some lone Stakhanovite worker was still out in the darkness and the silence, fulfilling another quota-surpassing day. At 3am, long after all sound had subsided, an amplified voice started up, slicing the night with slogans.

You can read the full article here:
The mass ornament
Iasson Athanasiadis
The Naitonal


A Night in Pyongyang (mass games picture book)

Friday, August 29th, 2008

From the book’s web page (translated from German): Werner Kranwetvogel has travelled to the DPRK and had the opportunity to visit the Arirang Mass Games on two evenings. At these occasions he produced a spectacular series of pictures, which shows exactly this dualism: on the one hand there are tremendous and most impressing wide shots with thousands of synchronized performers. But on the other hand he firstly shows close ups of the dancers, isolates them, jumps close to several groups, shows their passion and the total devotion of the performers to that very moment. This outstanding series of pictures shows the ambivalent fascination of the mass aesthetics in a unique way and comments itself without words.

The book’s web page has an impressive number of pictures, as well as many video clips of the games (with the original music). 

(hat tip to Klaus-Martin Meyer)


Gumball 3000 10th Anniversary stops in Pyongyang

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

UPDATE:  Looks like the show was drastically scaled down in P’ang.  According to the Associated Press:

Efforts shifted to trying to stage a rock concert in Pyongyang, and Cooper said possible artists included Eric Clapton or Roger Waters. But he said no corporate sponsor was found willing to pay the high production cost to bring such acts to the North.

It would have been the highest-profile performance in Pyongyang since the New York Philharmonic’s historic concert in February.

In the end, the rally ended up making the short stop in Pyongyang without the cars to watch the North Koreans’ “mass games” propaganda spectacle featuring 100,000 people performing synchronized gymnastics and acrobatics.

After the performance, the group had a banquet at the Koryo Hotel that a guide boasted was “one of the most luxurious hotels in our country.” Toasts were raised to the health of Kim Jong Il, and to Cooper.

Tattooed rally entrants wearing designer T-shirts and jeans mixed alongside North Korea’s vice culture minister clad in a dark suit.

And according to Simon (in the comments):

I was at Arirang the same night as these guys and went to the Koryo Hotel afterwards to see if they were having a party or anything like that – no party, no Hoff and the biggest star I saw was Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Don’t know who Travis Barker is so he may have been there. All in all I don’t know if they would consider the visit a success as they just flew in, went to the Games (spectacular as ever, a few changes as well this time so better than last years) and then flew out again – no concert, no party (unless it was hidden away or very small scale) but at least Carlton was there, and a guy carrying a skateboard who could conceivably have been a skater.

ORIGINAL POST: I had no idea what the Gumball 3000 was until I read the article below.  The story seems so surreal it has to be true. 

From the article:

This Saturday, August 9, superstars and super cars converge in San Francisco for the official kick-off of the 10th Anniversary Gumball 3000 Rally. More than 100 of the most amazing cars, driven by film stars, musicians, athletes and billionaires, will take an incredible eight-day journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, North Korea and China. The “Gumballers,” driving by day and reveling at VIP parties by night, will witness the Mass Games celebration in North Korea as part of a “global friendship initiative” as well as attend the Olympic finals in Beijing.

“This year’s rally is our most historic and spectacular to date,” said Maximillion Cooper, Gumball Founder. “Fuelled by adrenaline, amusement and amity, the 2008 route from the West to the East, including the city of Pyongyang, North Korea, will be a real once in a lifetime adventure.”

The Gumball 3000 entrants include David Hasslehoff driving K.I.T.T., the Trans AM “Official Knight Rider,” Travis Barker and more in the world’s hottest cars from Ferrari Enzos to Bugatti Veyrons, low riders and electric cars.

Learn more about the Gumball 3000 here.

Read stories below:
Gumball 3000 10th Anniversary Rally Kicks Off Saturday, August 9 in San Francisco
Market Watch

Partytown Pyongyang? Global tour comes to NKorea
Associated Press
Burt Herman


Download glitch fixed: North Korea Google Earth (version 11)

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

The most authoritative map of North Korea on Google Earth
Download it here

This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the eleventh version.

Additions include: Mt. Paegun’s Ryonghung Temple and resort homes, Pyongyang’s Chongryu Restaurant, Swiss Development Agency (former UNDP office), Iranian Embassy, White Tiger Art Studio, KITC Store, Kumgangsan Store, Pyongyang Fried Chicken Restaurant, Kilju’s Pulp Factory (Paper), Kim Chaek Steel Mill, Chongjin Munitions Factory, Poogin Coal Mine, Ryongwun-ri cooperative farm, Thonggun Pavilion (Uiju), Chinju Temple (Yongbyon), Kim il Sung Revolutionary Museum (Pyongsong), Hamhung Zoo, Rajin electrified perimeter fence, Pyongsong market (North Korea’s largest), Sakju Recreation Center, Hoeryong Maternity Hospital, Sariwon Suwon reservoir (alleged site of US massacre), Sinpyong Resting Place, 700 Ridges Pavilion, Academy of Science, Hamhung Museum of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung, South Hamgyong House of Culture, Hamhung Royal Villa, Pork Chop Hill, and Pyongyang’s Olympic torch route. Additional thanks go to Martyn Williams for expanding the electricity grid, particularly in Samjiyon, and various others who have contributed time improving this project since its launch.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.  Additionally, this file is getting large and may take some time to load.