Human traffic lights
As traffic is not very strong in P'yongyang, there is no need for traffic lights. And there is no unemployment in North Korea, you can find a female traffic warden at every intersection.
In P'yongyang they are always young women who direct the traffic in a very spruce and almost sexy way.
Unlike in China, where residents cycle, the vast majority of residents appear to walk and bicycles are notable by their absence. People walk around wearing old style clothes that look like they're from the 1940's and 50's and very few people where any bright colours. It's all drab blacks, greys and dark blues with white shirts, almost like a uniform. Young girls in their 20's wear unpleated skirts that are just below the knee. There's also hardly any branded sports clothing or personal items such as bags. The only time we mixed with them was when we visited the Pyongyang Metro and even then it felt like we were on the set of The Trueman Show.
Some junctions (intersections) do have traffic lights but these didn't seem to be working when I was there. Instead, Pyongyang is full of rather attractive, young traffic ladies dressed in a blue skirt with a white uniform jacket and hat. They hold out a red and white baton that glows at night and stand in a circle in the middle of the junction. They wave the baton in the direct that the traffic wants to go in. They do almost robotic like movements with their heads to look at what traffic is approaching from each direction and then swivel themselves around to face the oncoming traffic. An Icelandic guy on my tour got quite carried away by taking pictures of them from our bus and we pointed them out to him as we passed.
60th Anniversary of DPRK rehearsals
Whilst we were being driven around the city in our bus, wherever there was a large space, a square or such like, there would be children practicing routines which, we all thought, were for the Mass Games that happen in October. We were told that they were rehearsing for the 60th Anniversary of the DPRK as they'll be celebrating this before the Mass Games. When we visited the Grand People's Study House, we were allowed outside on the balcony that looks over Kim Il Sung Square and there before us were hundreds, if not thousands, of children rehearsing routines. We stood there watching them perform mass people formations that spelt out Korean words and symbols right in front of us so it was kind of like a free show.
At a couple of attractions that we visited, we were met by a guide who wore the Korean national costume which, I think, is called the hanbok. Our tour guide wore one on the morning of our departure and also they were for sale in the souvenir shop at the Yanggakdo Hotel. Also young girls were wearing them at a school we visited. Basically, people where them whenever they entertain or put on a performance or a service to impress.
Dotted around the city are small stalls that sell fruit juices and, I think, cider etc. I went up to one that was on the corner of the foreign language bookshop we visited and tried to buy something with the North Korean Won that I obtained from my hotel only to get a horrified look on the face of the lady at the kiosk. Buying something with local money is a definite no-no. On another street corner we sure several kiosks lined together that appeared to be selling fast-food of some sort.
Kim Il Sung pin
Every adult in North Korea has to wear a pin with Kim Il Sung on it to show their allegiance to him, everyday of their lives. I believe they actually get given them on their 17th birthday and different styles don't actually mean anything but I can't confirm this. All I can confirm is that there is no way of buying them in North Korea. You can buy them in China but it won't be the same as buying them in the country they come from. The photo is of our video camera man who was with us for a week filming us visiting each site.
As far as most Korean's are...
As far as most Korean's are concerned, Korean history began when the Great leader General Kim Il Sung (apparently ably assisted by his not-yet-born-son)drove out the nasty Japs, rebuffed the imperialists of America and founded the DPRK. The DPRK is one huge monument to KIS - his statue and photo are everywhere - his name appears in every textbook and at lest one-thrid of the school curriculum is devoted to his life and works. The national potrait gallery has half its exhibits devoted to enormous Socialist Realist pictures of him - in many being adored to the point of rapture by a host of foreign leaders (even though he never travelled beyond China and Russia). Therefore, considering that everyone you meet wears a badge of KIS at all times, it's a good idea to bow at the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and generally act is a respectful manner at the umpteen monuments. If you do that, you'll have fulfilled the necessary cultural requirements. As far as the DPRK is concerned the Korean War was last week, not 50 years ago. The Martyrs of the Revolution - each of whom has their head cast in solid bronze atop a marble and granite headstone. KIS's former wife has pride of place (naturally).