Essential Pyongyang Facts

By admin ~ November 13th, 2009. Filed under: Pyongyang.

Pyongyang is the capital of North Korea, located on the Taedong River. According to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, it has a population of 3,255,388. The city was split from the South P’yŏngan province in 1946. It is administered as a directly-governed city.

North Koreans associate Pyongyang with Asadal, the first capital of Gojoseon according to Korean history books, notably Samguk Yusa. Many South Korean historians dispute this association because other Korean history books place Asadal around the Liao He located in western Manchuria. Nonetheless, Pyongyang became a major city under Gojoseon.

One of its many historic names is Ryugyŏng, or “capital of willows”, as willow trees have always been numerous throughout the city’s history, and many poems have been written about these willows. Even today, Pyongyang has numerous willow trees planted everywhere, and many buildings and places have “Ryugyŏng” in their names, the most notable of all being its uncompleted Ryugyŏng Hotel.

Pyongyang – around the capital

By admin ~ November 13th, 2009. Filed under: Pyongyang.

The capital has been completely redesigned since the Korean War (1950–1953). It is designed with wide avenues, imposing monuments, and monolithic buildings. The tallest structure in the city is the uncompleted 330-metre (1,083 ft) Ryugyŏng Hotel. This hotel has 105 floors, encloses 361,000 square metres (3,885,772 sq ft) of floor space, and was planned to be topped by seven revolving restaurants.

Some notable landmarks in the city include the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, the Arch of Triumph (heavily inspired by Paris’s Arc de Triomphe but of a larger size), the reputed birthplace of Kim Il-sung at Mangyongdae Hill, Juche Tower, and two of the world’s largest stadiums (Kim Il Sung Stadium and Rungrado May Day Stadium). Pyongyang TV Tower is a minor landmark. Other visitor attractions include the Korea Central Zoo and the large golden statues of North Korea’s two leaders. The Arch of Reunification has a map of a united Korea supported by two concrete Korean women dressed in traditional dress straddling the multi-laned Reunification Highway that stretches from Pyongyang to the DMZ.

State-owned Air Koryo has scheduled flights from Sunan Capital International Airport to Beijing (PEK), Shenyang (SHE), Vladivostok (VVO), Macau (MFM), Bangkok (BKK), Khabarovsk (KHV) and Shenzhen (SZX). There are occasional chartered flights to Incheon (ICN), Yangyang County (YNY) and several Japanese cities

North Korea – a little history

By admin ~ November 13th, 2009. Filed under: North Korea.

North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a state in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer area between North Korea and South Korea. The Amnok River and the Tumen River form the border between North Korea and People’s Republic of China. A section of the Tumen River in the extreme north-east is the border with Russia.

The peninsula was governed by the Korean Empire until it was annexed by Japan following the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. It was divided into Soviet and American occupied zones in 1945, following the end of World War II. North Korea refused to participate in a United Nations–supervised election held in the south in 1948, which led to the creation of separate Korean governments for the two occupation zones. Both North and South Korea claimed sovereignty over the peninsula as a whole, which led to the Korean War of 1950. A 1953 armistice ended the fighting; however, the two countries are officially still at war with each other, as a peace treaty was never signed.[10] Both states were accepted into the United Nations in 1991.[11] On May 26, 2009, North Korea unilaterally withdrew from the armistice.[12][13]

North Korea is a single-party state under a united front led by the Korean Workers’ Party. The country’s government styles itself as following the Juche ideology of self-reliance, developed by Kim Il-sung, the country’s former leader. Juche became the official state ideology when the country adopted a new constitution in 1972, though Kim Il-sung had been using it to form policy since at least as early as 1955. Officially a socialist republic, North Korea is considered by many in the outside world to be a totalitarian Stalinist dictatorship. The current leader is Kim Jong-il, son of the late Eternal President Kim Il-sung.

Health care and medical treatment is payed for via taxes in North Korea. North Korea spends 3% of its gross domestic product on health care. Since the 1950s, the DPRK has put great emphasis on healthcare, and between 1955 and 1986, the number of hospitals grew from 285 to 2,401, and the number of clinics – from 1,020 to 5,644. There are hospitals attached to factories and mines. Since 1979 more emphasis was put on traditional Korean medicine, based on treatment with herbs and accupuncture.

Flights to Pyongyang

By admin ~ November 13th, 2009. Filed under: Travel.

Nearly all visitors arrive either by plane or train.

Sunan International Airport (IATA: FNJ) is 24 km north of Pyongyang and, as of 2009, has scheduled services only to Beijing. There is a (supposedly) weekly flight to Vladivostok, but in fact it’s hardly more than a glorified charter, as it goes only if there’s enough passengers to fill the elderly Tu-134.

The Air China Beijing flights depart/arrive on Monday and Friday afternoons, with an additional service on Wednesday afternoons in summer (from April 1st). Note that Pyongyang airport does not have ILS, so if the weather is bad, flights are sometimes cancelled, or even turned back.

Nuclear Power

By admin ~ November 13th, 2009. Filed under: Nuclear.

On October 9, 2006, the North Korean government issued an announcement that it had successfully conducted a nuclear test for the first time. Both the United States Geological Survey and Japanese seismological authorities detected an earthquake with a preliminary estimated magnitude of 4.2 in North Korea, corroborating some aspects of the North Korean claims.

In April 2009, reports surfaced that North Korea has become a “fully fledged nuclear power”, an opinion shared by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. On May 25, 2009, North Korea conducted another nuclear test, which is believed to have been the cause of a magnitude 4.7 seismic event. Although there is no official information about the test’s location it is believed that it happened in the north-eastern region near Kilju, the site of North Korea’s first nuclear test.