First images in the DPRK


So we got there.

But first, there was the flight.

I expected an Ilyushin or some other weird Russian, badly maintained plane with no overhead storage space. We were in an Airbus which looked nice and clean and in good condition. The flight takes about 2 hours from Beijing. We were served a large meal and wined and dined while seeing our first propaganda: a film in black and white, made 1 or 2 or 3 decades ago blaring things about war, about North Korea (“Korea”) winning and the American imperialists losing. Not having any interest in that whatsoever, I read my book.

We landed, and here we were at last: on North Korean soil. The drive from the airport into Pyongyang is quiet, already eerie. No pictures were allowed, but already the landscape felt anachronistic: no billboards, no signs whatsoever, just the brown earth, the paved road we were on, the dusty trails otherwise, a few people here and there, walking, a handful of them on bikes.

And, as soon as we got into the city, we stopped to see this: my first bronze patriotic scene of workers, soldiers and students all united around a common goal. In this case, the goal is to show victory over the Japanese, who were pushed back and out at the end of World War II in 1945.