"Capital of the Forbidden Land" P'yongyang by DSwede

P'yongyang Travel Guide: 280 reviews and 970 photos

For more comments in general, please visit my North Korea (DPRK) page.

P'yongyang is the capital of North Korea, with a population of ~2.3 million people, it is 1/6 the size of S Korea's capital of Seoul. But despite its size, it is a complete inversion of what people would associate with a city of its size. The roads are wide open, with few vehicles. Most traffic is pedestrians and bicycles.

There are no advertisements or billboards. Instead, there is the ever-present propaganda posters, typically depicting the death or injury to the nameless American soldier under the knife of Korean justice. The others are showing Kim il-Sung as a beacon of hope, wisdom and prosperity. They show him with his hands in the air, guiding the way, with all the people cheering with happiness and pride.

It is hard to imagine that in a city of its size, most life stops at sunset. Electricity is a premium that most locals cannot afford, so the skyline at night is void of many lights. The only lights you are guaranteed to see are those illuminating important monuments or more directly put, portraits of Kim il-Sung.

At 8:30 at night, the streets are empty of people, only the random person running home after working a late shift. Street lights are very few and far between. Buildings typically turn on their lights when you enter and turn them off again when you exit. (see my General Tip photo)

P'yongyang is the only place that from the center of 2.3 million people, when I opened my window, all I heard was the sound of the wind and chirping of crickets. There were no sounds of cars, traffic, music, parties or even conversations.

I also visited Kaesong, Panmunjom from the north and Myohyang.

(for more pictures, feel free to visit my North Korea Gallery. If you enjoy the pictures, please leave a comment.)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:You will be that much more thankful for where you came from.
  • Cons:Its a big city, with absolutely everything either non existant or off limits
  • In a nutshell:In no other city will you feel so isolated, staying in a land so different than your own.
  • Intro Updated Mar 29, 2011
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Reviews (10)

Comments (14)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Apr 6, 2013 at 6:19 AM

    Well done! Thanks for your description tat gave me the idea of the place....

    • DSwede's Profile Photo
      Apr 6, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      Glad I could help. I very much thought after 3 years in South Korea, I needed to see for my own eyes what the North evolved into. Eye & mind opening!

  • Basaic's Profile Photo
    Apr 26, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Great Page! Glad they let you leave.

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Apr 11, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    Fascinating look at this austere country. Pointing out the lack of noise, activity or anything that would indicate life is happy there is quite an eye-opener! Of course, when many people there are probably starving to death, who feels like singing!

  • paulhanson's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2010 at 2:17 AM

    I've read a couple of VT pages on Pyongyang. Visits must be strictly controlled: the pages say almost the same thing!

  • MikeySoft's Profile Photo
    Oct 4, 2008 at 5:28 AM

    Interesting story about the USS Pueblo

  • alycat's Profile Photo
    Aug 20, 2008 at 10:15 PM

    Wow a non-polluted asian city!

  • victorwkf's Profile Photo
    Jun 20, 2008 at 3:23 AM

    Another great insight into north korea! Btw, do contact me if you need further information on naejangsan national park (lovely place to visit in autumn, but will be very crowded)

  • Aidy_p's Profile Photo
    Mar 19, 2008 at 9:36 AM

    Wow, North Korea looks very clean

  • MikeStarr5's Profile Photo
    Dec 9, 2007 at 6:51 PM

    Some great 5 star tips and pics here - Well done ! - Mike in London's forgotten historic suburb, namely "Barking Town"

  • grets's Profile Photo
    Nov 2, 2007 at 1:34 AM

    Absolutely fascinating!


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