Pyongyang

Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination North Korea

Pyongyang, "flat land" and "pleasant place", is crossed by the Daidong river. The town is 2,000 years old, but has few historical remains. It is organised around compulsory places of passage created by your hosts. Monumental frescoes representing the "Great Leader" decorate the town walls. Mandousai monument is a bronze statue 65 feet high, representing the supreme commander, located in the city centre. You will be willingly taken there to place a spray of flowers against a background of revolutionary song. All around you, curving sprays of water in the shape of a fir tree or parasols decorate the park. The ex presidential palace that became a mausoleum is a walled building surmounted by an immense portrait, whose re-building works "will last 1,000 years". This is where the embalmed remains of the charismatic leader lie. There is even a blower that removes any dirt from your clothes inside the memorial. The body of the "Great Leader" glows under a crystal globe in the centre of a huge room and in darkness, and you have to prostrate yourself before him three times. The Triumphal Arch is, according to the organisers, "higher than that of Paris". The monument to the Juche Ideas is a slender campanile of granite. 560 feet high, it is flanked by a 65-foot torch at the top that lights up with a red flame when the rest of the city has no electricity. A lift takes you to the belvedere, where you have a bird's eye view of the capital. The History Museum has 19 rooms holding items and pieces from Korean society, from primitive to modern times. The Botong, Daidong or Djeunkeum gates of the Pyongyang fortress date mostly from the 6th century, and were restored in the 15th or 16th century. Moran hill, the capital's garden, is marked out by the remains of the old fortress' walls. The underground has beautiful and spacious stations with high roofs and statuesque columns.

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