North Korea Things to Do

  • Pyongyang Television Tower
    Pyongyang Television Tower
    by wabat
  • Kijong-dong Village - from the Joint Security Area
    Kijong-dong Village - from the Joint...
    by wabat
  • Introduced to their new leader - Kim Il-Sung
    Introduced to their new leader - Kim...
    by wabat

North Korea Things to Do

  • Watch TV

    It is not normal that I include a tip on my pages recommending that readers watch TV when they visit a location, but North Korea is not your everyday normal location. I am not suggesting that you spend a lot of time on this activity as half an hour will suffice for all but the most ardent and loyal party member, unless you have access the BBC...

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  • Admire the Flowers of the Leaders

    Should you visit North Korea it will not take you long to realise that anything of any importance is named after Kim Il-sung (or more recently, since his death in 2011, Kim Jong-il).It will thus come as no surprise that the most important flowers (trumping the national flower, the magnolia) in North Korea are the Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia. Yes...

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  • Have a Coke and Choco Pie

    This may seem a rather mundane and indeed extraordinary thing to include in “things to do” or indeed any other category here on VT. However, as most readers will be aware North Korea is without doubt the most closed and secretive country on earth. For North Korea, arch enemy number one and the very devil incarnate is the United States which, we are...

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  • Be aware - The Media/ Press & Freedom of...

    Article 53 of the North Korean Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and thus freedom of the press in North Korea.Because of this constitutionally enshrined freedom North Koreans and its media have absolute freedom to say anything positive about the Leaders, the Worker’s Party and the country in general. In fact they are strongly encouraged...

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  • Be an Extra on the World's Largest Film...

    Having spent a number of days in North Korea it was time to visit the Korean Feature Film Studio, or more specifically the film sets as we did not get into the studios themselves. This got me thinking. Join me in my thoughts.In many senses, and outside our stroll in the Moranbong Youth Park and a few other isolated exceptions, it had felt like we...

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  • Enjoy the darkness and bring a Torch

    To include this review under warnings and dangers would be to exaggerate the impact on a visitor. It is more something you should be aware of and indeed I invite you to turn it to your advantage and enjoy the darkness.Without doubt the most famous and best recognized North Korean photographic image is not taken in North Korea at all, but rather...

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  • Get to know your Kims

    The purpose of this review is to introduce you to the key people you should be familiar with prior to visiting North Korea. You will certainly be well aware of them before you leave unless you close your eyes and plug your ears for the duration of your trip! Should you read my other reviews/tips you will encounter reference to, and more details on,...

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  • Getting that little extra

    We built up a good relationship with our 3 guides and whilst we were not 100% compliant we were always very respectful to them. Mostly the guides like to herd you as a small pack so that your time interacting with locals is kept to a minimum. However, it is possible to over-rule sometimes.There were a number of occasions when we decided we wanted...

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  • DPRK Itinerary

    You will have an itinerary from the agent with whom you booked your DPRK trip. You should print it and bring it to DPRK with you, fro reference.The day you arrive in the DPRK you will have an itinerary meeting with your guide(s) and any other people you are in a group with.It seemed to be usual/standard practice that on that first evening the...

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  • Taedonggang Maekju

    Taedonggang Maekju is a beer brewed in North Korea, but still surprisingly for sale in South Korea. We bought a bottle for 10,000 Won ($9 US) on a tour of the DMZ. While expensive, its price is comparable to average beers where we live in Tokyo.The beer comes in a big .75 liter green bottle with a label entirely in Korean. The design on the label...

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  • DMZ - Panmungak

    ُThe most impressive building on the North Korean side of the Joint Security Area is called Panmungak. This gray, three-story structure was completed in August 1969, and it houses the North Korean JSA guards and it serves as a waiting are of North Koreans participating in talks with the South. This facility is occasionally open to the North...

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  • DMZ - Military Armistice Commission...

    At the center of the Joint Security Area, straddling the Military Demarcation Line, stand a series of silver and baby blue United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission buildings.All visitors are allowed to enter the center UNCMAC building where peace talks are held. But be wary of the burly South Korean soldiers standing in Tae Kwon Do...

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  • DMZ - Third Tunnel of Agrression

    The Third Tunnel of Northern Aggression is located near Panmunjom at the DMZ. It was the third of four confirmed tunnels dug by North Korea to establish invasion routes into the South. There are believed to be at least 20 tunnels from the north to the south in total, and it is estimated that the tunnels would allow 30,000 soldiers an hour, armed...

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  • DMZ - Propaganda Village

    Kijong-dong is the official name of a small village located on the North Korean side of the border int he DMZ. It is one of only two villages in the entire DMZ, along with the South Korean village of Daeseong-dong. Kijong-dong is known outside of North Korea as "Propaganda Village," mainly because most of the town is fake. The buildings,...

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  • DMZ - Dorasan Station

    Dorasan Station, on the on the Gyeongui Line, is the last train station before the North Korean border. For about a year trains were allowed to pass through this station and across the border to Kaesong's industrial city, but these only ran from 2007-2008. The station may no longer be an active gateway to the north, but it is the terminus for four...

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  • DMZ - Dora Observatory

    The Dora Observatory is located on Mount Dora, just across the border between North and South Korea. This tourist destination has an observation room and an outdoor observation deck that offer great views into North Korea. The area is open for tourists and it has a small gift shop, public restrooms, and a small temple.From here you can look into...

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  • DMZ - Camp Bonifas

    Camp Bonifas is located just 3 kilometers southeast of the Joint Security Area near the DMZ. This is the home of the United Nations Command Security Battalion—Joint Security Area, which is responsible for patrolling the JSA and protecting visitors to the area. The UNC Security Battalion also provides tours of the JSA. The tours begin with a visit...

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  • DMZ - Bridge of No Return

    The Bridge of No Return was for many years the only bridge connecting the Joint Security Area at the DMZ with North Korea. The bridge itself straddles the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) which is the actual border between North and South. After the Korean War ended, the bridge was used for prisoner exchanges where the prisoners were free to choose...

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  • DMZ - Site of the Axe Murder Incident

    In the Joint Security Area of the DMZ, next tot he Bridge of No Return, is the site of the Axe Murder Incident. At this spot in 1976, a US Army Captain and a US Army Lieutenant were killed, and 8 other UN soldiers were wounded while trying to "prune" a tree to improve visibility between checkpoints. Later, the UN responded with Operation Paul...

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  • The acrobatic, circus and magic show

    If you have time, you should go to these shows where you can see the other side of the North Koreans. They can smile and laugh. They've got some humours.

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  • Nampo - West Sea Barrage

    Nampo is a large industrial port city located about 50km south-west of Pyongyang at the mouth of the Taedong River. It was little more than a small fishing village but opened as a port for foreign trade in 1897 and today is the country’s largest and most important port. Not only is it a port but it is also home to the country’s main heavy industry...

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  • Panmunjom

    Panmunjom is the general name for the area where buildings are located on both sides of the 38th parallel or DMZ which splits the Korean peninsula into two following World War 2. In fact, Panmunjom was actually a small village on the northern side of the border but nothing of it remains today except for a few buildings where the Korean War...

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  • Kaesong - Tomb of King Kongmin

    This tomb is located about 13km (8 miles) west of Kaesong. King Kongmin (1330 - 1374) was the 31st king of Koryo dynasty and he is buried his alongside his wife. The tombs are guarded by 12 guardian gods, sheep and tigers. There is a stone offertory table with a 7-ton stone slab in front each tomb.

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  • Kaesong

    Kaesong lies right in the south of the country, just a few miles from Panmunjom and the demilitarised zone. We came here down the empty 4-lane Reunification Highway from Pyongyang and stayed overnight in the old part of the city that survived the bombings of the Korean War because of its importance and historical value to the country. It was here...

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  • Myohyang-sanmaek - Pohyon Temple

    The Pohyon Temple was founded in the Sangwon Valley, not far from the International Friendship Exhibition, in 1042 during the Koryo period. It is named after the Buddhist saint Pohyon who was in charge of the “morals of Buddha.” Originally it had 24 buildings and pagodas and was a major centre for propagating Buddhism in this area of Korea.The...

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  • Myohyang-san - International Friendship...

    The International Friendship Exhibition are two huge partly underground palaces filled with over 100,000 gifts from over 150 countries to both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. We visited the larger of the two first, that was opened in 1978, which had gifts presented to Kim Il Sung. We first had to hand in our cameras and were then told to put on dust...

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  • Mangyongdae - Kim Il Sung's birthplace

    Mangyongdae is a suburb about 12km south-west of Pyongyang and is famous for being the place where Kim Il Sung was born on April 15th 1912 in a simply straw thatched house. The jury's out whether or not he was actually born here at all and our guides really emphasised on his humble origins. When I was in China, I visited Mae Zedong's birthplace and...

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  • Spyship USS Pueblo

    This was originally not on our tour itinerary and having read about it on the new, I asked if we could visit it. I was told that it wasn't possible as some building works were being carried out on some steps nearby. I thought this was a pretty poor excuse and felt a bit hard done by. The following day, one of guides mentioned that it would actually...

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  • Arch of Triumph

    The Arch of Triumph was built to commemorate the Korean resistance to Japan from 1925 to 1945 and the triumphal return home of Kim Il Sung after hiding in exile during the 2nd World War. It was unveiled in April 1982 to mark his 70th birthday and was built out of 25,500 blocks of finely-dressed white granite - one for each day of his life up until...

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  • Old Pyongyang

    There are only a handful of old pre-Korean war structures dotted around the city as it was destroyed by the Americans during the war. Potong Gate stands near the River Potong, a tributary of the Taesong River. It was built in the mid-6th century when the walls of the old city were built and was later rebuilt in 1473.The Taedong Gate was the eastern...

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  • Three Charters for National...

    This monument stretches over the Reunification Highway that goes south from Pyongyang to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). It was erected in 2001 and measures 30m in height and 51.5m wide. It depicts two women in traditional Korean costumes holding a map of a unified Korea.

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  • Grand People's Study House

    This huge building dominates the western side of Kim Il Sung square and you good an excellent view of it after you've been shown around from a balcony that overlooks it. The North Korean education system (Juche Education, if you like) is based on the principle of "study while working". The building was built as part of the extensive construction in...

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  • Pyongyang Metro

    This was one of the main things I was looking forward to in Pyongyang - a ride on the city's metro. Firstly, we entered down some steps off a street into Yonggwang station which is located just to the north of the main overland railway station. We hung around by some ticket barriers waiting for our guides to get coin tokens which cost 5 won each...

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  • Pyongyang Circus

    One evening we went to the Pyongyang Circus which is located in the western suburbs on Kwangbok Street. Now, it's been many, many years since I last went to a circus and this one didn't disappoint. The acts that we saw including trapeze artists, a lady balancing a long pole with something on top in her mouth whilst climbing up a rope, a young guy...

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  • Kumsusan Memorial Palace

    First occupied in 1976, the 4-story Kumsusan was originally the Kumsusan Assembly Hall, and was Kim Il Sung's official residence. One year after Kim's death, in 1994, the hall's windows had been bricked over and the giant building became a giant mausoleum, housing Kim's embalmed body in a glass coffin awaiting the bows and lamentations of DPRK...

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  • Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

    The Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery is located on Mt Taesong, which lies to the northeast of Pyongyang and, again, is probably going to be on everyone's itinerary. It contains many busts of revolutionary figures which even include Kim Il Sung's mother, Kang Pan-sok. The cemetery was inaugurated in 1975 and enlarged in 1985. Some nice views of the...

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  • Pyongyang - May Day Stadium

    The May Day Stadium is located on the Rungra island in the Taedong River. It was completed on May 1st 1989, hence its name and can accommodate some 150,000 people making it the largest stadium by capacity in the world. Its scalloped roof features 16 arches arranged in a ring, and it is said to resemble a parachute or a magnolia blossom. While the...

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  • Monument to the Foundation of the...

    This monument is located directly in the line of sight of the large bronze statue of President Kim il Sung on Munsu Hill in Pyongyang. Erected for the golden jubilee (50 years) of the KWP founding by Kim il Sung in October 1996, the tower measures 50 metres (around 160 feet) in height and its three components are a hammer, sickle and writing brush...

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  • Kim Il Sung Square

    Kim Il Sung Square sits on the west bank of the Taedong River. It was completed in August 1954 and had an area of 36,000 square metres before being enlarged to 75,000 square metres. The huge Grand People's Study House (which you'll probably visit to get a good view of the square) sits on the square's western side facing the river. As you look...

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  • Views from the Tower of the Juche Idea

    These are the views of the city of Pyongyang from the top of the Tower of the Juche Idea. It is possible to go up to the top and admire the views and this will cost you 5 Euro but it's well worth it as you get to see virtually the whole city.

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  • Tower of the Juche Idea

    This 170 metre (560 feet) structure sits on the banks of the Taedong River in Pyongyang. It was erected in 1982 in honour of Kim il Sung's 70th birthday (there are 70 stones in the side for each year of his life). Juch'esong is the essential political philosophy of the DPRK, conceived by Kim il Sung and developed further by General Kim Jong il. Ju...

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  • Pyongyang - Three Revolution Exhibition

    The Three Revolution Exhibition is located in the northern suburbs of Pyongyang and was opened in April 1993. It's basically six halls outlining the endeavour to implement the line of the three revolutions - ideological, technical and cultural. The six halls include the general introduction hall, heavy industry hall, light industry hall,...

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  • Ryugyong Hotel

    I was going to put this in the hotels but thought twice about it! I had seen pictures of this monstrous building on the net before I visited North Korea and always thought it was on the outskirts of the city when in fact it's not from the city centre. You will be able to get very close to the unfinished hotel if you visit the Monument to the...

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  • Monument to Victorious Fatherland...

    This site was constructed in 1993 to mark the end of the active hostilities of the Korean War. It is a white stone park of bronze sculptures depicting various battles of that war. It is dedicated to the "Korean People's Army and Korean people who defeated the US imperialists and its allies during the Fatherland Liberation War." The intended...

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  • The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War...

    This was one of the highlights for me whilst in Pyongyang. We got off our bus and were met by a woman dressed in an army uniform carrying a long stick. She took us through a series of rooms that outlined the North Koreans view of the Korean War and how it was started (basically by the "US imperialists", as they call the Americans). She showed us...

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North Korea Things to Do

Reviews and photos of North Korea things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for North Korea sightseeing.
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