Misty morning, Pyongyang

12 Instagrammable places in Pyongyang

Aytan Akhundova Aytan Akhundova 22 February 2021
10 view 8 min. read

Pyongyang, translated from English means a flat place. Do you know where is Pyongyang? Once the ancient capital of the kingdoms of Joseon, Goguryeo, and Koryo, Pyongyang remains the capital of North Korea. After the devastation caused by the Korean War, Pyongyang has completely modernized with towering skyscrapers, wide lighted boulevards and relaxing green parks.

Between the revolutionary museums are department stores, recreational centers, restaurants and barrel beer bars, impressive monuments and colorful murals scattered around the city. Pyongyang is home to the Workers' Party of Korea, which has become the most complex example of the national ideology of Juche. While North Korea may be mysterious to many of us, this city is ready to show the world itself and the Instagrammable places of Pyongyang.

How to get to Pyongyang

pyongyang

Are you wondering how to get to Pyongyang? Well, the vast majority of foreigners travel to North Korea via China. North Korea's national airline, Air Koryo, operates three scheduled flights a week connecting Beijing and Pyongyang. Since March 31, 2008, Air China has been operating flights between Beijing and Pyongyang 3 times a week. You can also get from Beijing to Pyongyang by train, which will undoubtedly give your trip a special charm.

You can even fly to the DPRK from Russia, using one of the regular routes of Air Koryo: Vladivostok - Pyongyang.

passport

Regardless of your nationality, it is important to remember that if you want to travel to North Korea via China, you will need to obtain a double-entry Chinese visa or re-apply for a Chinese transit visa while in the DPRK. Usually the application for the Chinese transit visa is very simple and does not need to be problematic. A standard visa is usually issued within 5 business days. Please contact the Chinese Embassy in your country of residence for more information.

Pyongyang attractions and Instagrammable places:

1. The Mansuda Grand Monument

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The Mansuda Grand Monument is an iconic and Instagrammable monument, the most notable of which are the formidable bronze statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Each statue stands at a height of 22 meters. It is here that men, women, and children lay flowers at the feet of former leaders who are considered the guides of their fathers to the Korean people. Usually, people line up in front of the statues and bow, which is a Korean form of greeting and showing respect. Photos are allowed, but it is recommended not to imitate the pose of the Great Leader and not to cut off any part of the statue in the frame. A statue of Kim Il Sung was once the only resident of Mansu Hill, but after Kim Jong Il's death in 2011, a similar statue was erected in his honor, and Kim Il Sung's facial expression and coat were changed to reflect the smiling grandfather image. Soon thereafter a coat of Kim Jong-Il was converted into a corporate Park that he wore during the tour on the spot.

With a mosaic backdrop on Mount Paektu and gifts of "Anti-Japanese Struggle" and "Socialist Revolution" on either side, the Mansuda Grand Monument is the most sacred of its kind in North Korea, and our number one must visit on the Pyongyang attractions.

2. Kim Il Sung Square

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Kim Il Sung Square is the main public, Instagrammable place in the center of Pyongyang. Like Tiananmen Square in China, North Korea holds its much-publicized historical events, mass dance celebrations, military parades, and even fireworks displays here. If you've seen North Korean soldiers catch a goose on television, you're familiar with Kim Il Sung Square. The square can hold 100,000 people and is surrounded by famous ministries, particularly the headquarters of the Workers' Party of Korea. Other buildings in the square include the Great People's Cabinet, the Central Historical Museum of Korea, and the National Art Gallery of Korea. The square offers a fantastic view of the Tower of the Juche Idea, located across the river. Pyongyang at night will open up to you from a new side.

3. Juche Tower of Ideas

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In front of Kim Il Sung Square, located on the river bank, you will see the impressive Tower of the Juche Idea. It is the tallest monument in North Korea. This obelisk symbolizes the state ideology of "Juche", developed by Kim Il Sung. Juche loosely translates as self-reliance and is otherwise the foundation of North Korea's political and economic isolationism today. Exactly 25,500 granite blocks make up the Juche Tower, each representing a day in the life of Kim Il Sung on his 70th birthday. At the entrance to the tower, a local guide will show you a wall with plaques and gifts of those who support the Juche ideology internationally.

4. Pyongyang, Arc de Triomphe

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This is usually the first place you will visit after reaching Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. The Arc de Triomphe should not be confused with the 10-meter Arc de Triomphe in Paris, built exactly at the place where Kim Il Sung was greeted with thunderous applause on his return from the victory over the Japanese and the liberation of Korea. Kim Il-sung was determined to be liberated by 1925, but it was not until 1945 that he succeeded. These dates are now memorialized on the arch itself, as is the poem "The Song of General Kim Il Sung", quoted daily on state television. Pyongyang and the Arc de Triomphe are a sight to pass under at night, and you can even take the elevator to get a clear view of the nearby Kim Il Sung Stadium. Pyongyang at night and this view will amaze you.

5. Monument to the founding of the party

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The monument to the founder of the party is one of the best Instagrammable places in Pyongyang. This monument was built in 1995 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Workers' Party of Korea. The Workers' Party of Korea is the founding party and ruling party of North Korea, which is chaired by Kim Jong-un. The party is credited with the victories of the Korean people, and this award is idealized in the design of the monument. The hammer, sickle, and brush represent the idea that under Juche, the people themselves hold the key to North Korea's prosperity. In front of the monument there is a platform where, as you know, mass dances and celebrations take place. The red buildings behind the monument represent the waving flag of the Workers' Party of Korea and are topped with the words "Eternal Victory". This is a selfish Pyongyang postcard that you will never forget.

6. North Korea's library

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This library is one of the best Instagrammable places in Pyongyang. This traditional Korean-style pavilion is North Korea's largest library with 600 rooms and a capacity of up to 30 million books. Kim Il Sung supported the idea of "learning while working", so the library offers short courses covering topics such as science and architecture, reading rooms packed with "revolutionary materials", and even free lectures and video presentations. The complex is designed to encourage personal development during non-working hours. As a tourist, enjoy patriotic tunes in the "Music Appreciation Room," surf the North Korean intranet on an accessible computer, read The Complete Encyclopedia of Chickens in English, or perhaps visit Room 1004, which houses "The Works of President Kim Il Sung and books about his Greatness."

7. Pyongyang metro

pyongyang metro

Pyongyang metro is not just the deepest subway system on earth, it's a nuclear bunker with specially constructed blast doors and an ultranationalist museum of North Korea's revolutionary history, ideals, and achievements. Each station has a unique thematic focus. The Golden Soil Station celebrates agriculture by displaying murals of wheat harvests and fresh fruit, while the walls of the Construction station include a mosaic of smiling workers at work, while Kim Il Sung offers field guidance. Statues, bronze plaques, and ornaments scatter the platforms. Transiting here, along with the 700,000 locals who do it every day, will mean you leave with a deeper understanding of what it means to be North Korea.

8. Kumsusan Palace of the Sun

korean children

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is the last resting place of the Eternal President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il. Inside separate rooms, their embalmed bodies lie inside air-conditioned transparent glass sarcophagi for all to see. A visit to the Kumsusan Sun Palace is a formal event; men will need a shirt, tie and trousers, while women will need to be modestly dressed with their shoulders and knees covered. Photo is not allowed. Before entering, you will pass through metal detectors, clean your shoes, and pass through specially designed dust collectors. Be sure to bow before each Great Leader three times. Many of the leaders' most prized possessions are also on display, including a yacht, Mercedes, golf cart, and train car. It's a grim but surreal visit that may just define your trip to North Korea. The palace is only open twice a week and is closed in May and June, so make sure that it is included in the price of your trip during your short visit to North Korea!

9. Museum of the war for the Liberation of the Fatherland

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The Museum of the Liberation of the Fatherland of Victory is a recently restored exhibit about the struggle of the Korean people against foreign invaders. You will be assigned a female military guide, and she will provide you with a North Korean version of the story, which usually remains unheard of or discredited. The museum is filled with historical photography and video recordings, extensive dioramas, exhibits, and an otherwise incredible attention to detail. Before you enter the museum, you will see captured US Army helicopters, downed US Army planes, and even the infamous US spy ship "Pueblo", still held hostage by North Korea, which you can board and inspect yourself.

10. Masuda Art Studio

mansuda art studio

Art Studio Masuda is the largest and most prestigious Studio of fine art in North Korea. State artists here have mastered the socialist-style and, since 1959, have supplied North Korea with ubiquitous monuments, statues, murals, posters, and even lapel sketches. Kim's legacy management approves of this studio solely to portray their likeness, so on any route to Pyongyang, you are likely to become a connoisseur of their work. In addition to the workshops, we will visit the gallery here, and you will have the opportunity to buy the best North Korean souvenir for your living room wall.

11. Is the House of Mandanda

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Nestled within a peaceful Park, you will find the House of Mandanda. This modest house with straw straws is the official birthplace of President Kim Il Sung and the place where he spent his childhood. He was born on April 15, 1912, but in North Korea this year is better known as "Juche 1", and the North Korean calendar year is a turning point in the birth of Kim Il Sung. Your visit to the Manhende Indigenous Home is likely to be shared with school groups looking to get a glimpse into the early years of their Eternal President. Flowers are usually laid at the Kim Il Sung memorial plaque outside.

12. Munsu Water Park

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Munsu Water Park is a massive, Instagrammable water park of international standard, perhaps the last thing you would expect to see in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. In the lobby, you will first be greeted by a waxy smile of Kim Jong Il on the beach, then you will be handed a socialism-style bathing suit and released into the wild to splash around with the locals. There are countless colorful water slides, an Olympic-size lap pool, an ocean wave pool, and even a lazy river to go down. If swimming isn't your thing, you'll find a climbing wall, a volleyball court, trampolines, a beer barrel and a coffee shop, even a barber to cut your hair! After a long day of sightseeing in Pyongyang, the Munsu Water Park is a welcome change in pace.

Pyongyang tours

pyongyang city

Pyongyang tours are an opportunity to get acquainted with the history of the Korean people, their traditions, and find out what events have shaped the modern image of the state. Before visiting the country, you must obtain a visa and familiarize yourself with the rules of stay in the territory of the DPRK. Despite the fact that the state is becoming more open to tourists, sightseeing takes place under strict control. Even the Korean people themselves can't move around the country as much as they would like. Be prepared for the fact that some objects are forbidden to photograph, and the Internet is not available.

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Aytan Akhundova

Aytan lives in Milan, Italy for 3 years now and has always been passionate about traveling and discovering new beautiful places all over the world. As of 2020, she has been to 10 countries and numerous cities which she lost the number of but the majority of them are definitely located in beautiful Italy. She loves digital marketing, art, music, and tries to find beauty in the smallest moments of our life. Her recent interest in spiritual growth has taught her one simple truth: "The most beautiful things in life are abstract." So, surely we can add travel to the list of these most beautiful things!  

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