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Ever wondered how a secretive socialist country locked from the outside world looks like? Many of us who has never been to North Korea depicts the country with visuals of obsessive military parades, shouting strict army men and overly expressive newscasters. Well, there weren’t any public executions or starving children by the roadside. It was nothing like what Sony’s idiotic movie “The Interview” had portrayed. There were no fake cardboard fruits or fake fat kid in front of the store waving to tourists with a lollipop. I don’t want to sound very one sided. I try my best to show you what I saw through my lens directly without any censorship. This is my version of the beautiful landscapes and cities while I visited the DPRK back in September 2014. I have compiled some of my best panoramic shots of the country and you will understand why I have constantly told everyone that North Korea is a gorgeous country to visit. In this list, you will be experiencing North Korea like you’ve never seen it before (especially not in Western Propaganda Documentaries) and a chance to see some of the gorgeous places I’ve been to during my 12 day stay.

Although it was a tight tour trip and we couldn’t stop at many places to take proper landscape photos with my tripod and filters, I had to resort mostly on handheld settings and spontaneous solutions. I tried my best to experiment and find angles as much as I could while we stopped briefly at places without missing out on the explanations from my beloved tour guides. I was extremely fortunate to bring home these wonderful and scenic beauties of their country and showcase them to everyone. Here are my best 30 panoramic shots of the beautiful Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

1. Mansudae Grand Monument

The Grand Monument of Mansu Hill

Our first and foremost stop after we landed in Pyongyang Airport. Standing tall and majestic, the bronze statues of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il welcomes us to the beautiful country of North Korea. Behind the statues is a wall of the Korean Revolution Museum building, displaying a mosaic mural showing a scene from Mount Paektu. Two guards stand beside to keep watch over any threats or disrespectfulness towards the leaders’ statues. We offered flower bouquets to the leaders and bowed 90 degrees to pay our utmost respect. (Read more)

2. Sunset view overlooking The Grand People’s Study House

Grand People's Study House sunset

We strolled around the Mansu Park to stretch our legs after the flight from Beijing. It was here where I first saw how gorgeous the Grand People’s Study House was. At the park, we met a group of little school children waving to us while they were playing in the artificial waterfall. They were so happy to see us and we waved back. The park was so clean and all the locals who were there enjoyed the beautiful sunset. (Read more)

3. Juche Tower & Kim Il Sung Square

Pyongyang City Skyline

Gorgeous view of the Juche Tower in the center. From here we can see the Kim Il-Sung Square which is located in the center of Pyongyang at the west bank of the Taedong River. The square has a great cultural significance and is one of the most recognizable landmarks, as it is a common gathering place for rallies, dances and military parades and is often featured in media concerning the DPRK. It is the 30th largest square in the world, having an area of about 75,000 square meters (807,293 square feet) which can accommodate a rally of 100,000 people. (Read more)

4. Study hall in the Grand People’s Study House

Grand People's Study House Study Hall

Taken inside the study hall in the Grand People’s Study House. Two Kim portraits hang on the wall which overlooks the people who come here to study and read. This central library has a total floor space of 100,000m² and 600 rooms. The building can house up to 30 million books, of which it contains around 10,800 documents, books and “on the spot guidance” Kim Il-sung wrote. The building contains many rooms for education such as audio rooms, computer rooms, lecture halls, and more. The Grand People’s Study House often houses workshops, lectures, seminars of various subjects. (Read more)

5. The city of Pyongyang

Pyongyang City Skyline

Pyongyang, the capital of the DPRK. Right in the center lies the Grand People’s Study House, overlooking the Taedong River. Here you can see how well developed the country is with a big number of apartments, high rises office buildings and hotels. The huge pyramid shaped building is the Ryugyong Hotel that is still under construction. (Read more)

6. Nampo West Sea Barrage

Nampo West Sea Barrage

The West Sea Dam or most commonly known as the Nampo West Sea Barrage is located in the outskirts of Pyongyang. Built in the early 80s, the structure contains huge 8km long system of dams, three lock chambers, and 36 sluices, allowing the passage of ships up to 50,000 tons. The dam is considered a major accomplishment of North Korea and is often part of the itinerary when international tourists visit the country. Upon arrival, all visitors will be seated at the auditorium to watch a documentary about the history and construction of the dam. (Read more)

7. A Farmer and his child at Chonsam Cooperative Farm

Pyongyang Farm

Not to be mistaken for Chongsan Cooperative Farm near Pyongyang. This farm is in fact situated in Anbyon county, near to Wonsan City. We were enroute to Masikyrong when we pass by and visited this farm to have a look. We visited their farms, kindergartens, nursery and a farmer’s residence. The view was magnificent and the crops were all growing healthily. (Read more)

8. National Day celebration outside Kim Il-Sung Stadium

Pyongyang City

DPRk flags fly majestically as it celebrates their National Day with football matches and mass dancing. University students can be seen gathered outside the stadium in preparation for the mass dancing that will be held in the later evening. The stadium once hosted the famous mass games until 1990 and it was the site where Kim Il-Sung held his first speech after returning from exile on 1945. Today, the Kim Il-sung stadium is used as the home ground for the North Korea national football team, the North Korea women’s national football team and the Pyongyang City Sports Group. (Read more)

9. Monument to Party Founding

Party Foundation Monument

Erected in 1995, the Monument to Party Founding is located in Minsu Street which is just 600 meters away from the Golden Lane Bowling Alley. Shaped with a hammer, sickle and paintbrush seized by a worker, farmer and intellectual. The round belt around it signifies the single-hearted unity of the leader, Party and people. Each of these is 50 metres high symbolizing the Party’s 50th anniversary. Amazingly, the monument is also constructed with identical and symmetrical red buildings that further enhances the beauty of the monument and it’s strategic location. (Read more)

10. Monument to the 3 Charters of Reunification

Monument to the 3 Charters of Reunification

It is one of the most recognizable monuments of the country and often shown in many western documentaries. This structure of two women holding a map of a unified Korea has a very obvious concept. Called the Monument to the 3 Charters of Reunification, this monument represents the three Principles of National Reunification, the Plan of Establishing the Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo and the 10-Point Program of the Great Unity of the Whole Nation. It is located on the Reunification Highway which everyone passes by to reach the infamous Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that borders South Korea. (Read more)

11. Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Panmunjom

JSA view from North Korea DMZ

Speaking of reunification, this is the DMZ or more precisely the JSA (Joint Security Area). The only portion of the entire DMZ where soldiers from both sides stand face to face. The blue houses are built for representatives from each side to meet and discuss important issues about reunification. Before entering the JSA, everyone will be briefed with the history of the Korean War and a visit to the little house where the Armistice was signed. Inside the blue house, we were allowed to roam freely to and fro South Korea under the watchful eye of our North Korean bodyguards. The concrete line that runs across middle of the blue houses serve as the division between the North and the South. (Read more)

12. Kumsusan Palace of the Sun

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun

Every trip to North Korea, you will be constantly reminded to bring formal clothes. Well, this is the place where you will have to dress up extremely smart to visit. The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun built in 1976 was once the official residence of the eternal president Kim Il-Sung. Now, it is served as the mausoleum for both the former leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. Foreigners can access the palace only on Thursdays and Sundays. Photography, videotaping, smoking and talking are not permitted anywhere inside the palace. A must see when visiting the capital. (Read more)

13. Kaesong City

Kaesong City

One of my favourite shots. This was taken outside the Kaesong Folk Hotel after our delicious lunch. What I love about this picture is the fusion of Korea’s traditional building designs followed by a propaganda poster on the left side and the people going about their lives. It looks like a scene from traditional Korea. (Read more)

14. Koryo Museum Entrance

Koryo Museum Entrance

The beautiful pathway that leads to the entrance of the Koryo Museum. Housed in the city’s old Confucian academy, it contains many priceless Koryo arts and cultural relics. Once known as Songgyungwan, it consisted of over 20 buildings within a walled compound. Today 12 main buildings and 6 auxiliary buildings show the typical features of a Confucian educational institution of that period. In addition to being the highest educational institution in Koryo, teaching Confucian doctrine to the children of nobility to become officials in the Koryo government, it also was the center of Confucian rites for noted Confucians. (Read more)

15. Ullim Waterfalls

Ullim Waterfalls

Ullim Waterfalls is a popular destination for tourists both local and international alike. A natural wonder and a gorgeous piece of work located in Wonsan. It was discovered by soldiers in 2001 doing some blasting work, it is now a fantastic spot for a picnic.

16. Wonsan City

Wonsan City

Looking quite different from the capital city of Pyongyang, Wonsan is a port city and naval base located on the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. In 2013, it was announced that Wonsan will be converted into a summer destination with resorts and entertainment. Famous sites to visit here are Chonsam Cooperative Farm, Wonsan Beach, Wonsan Station Revolutionary Museum, Changdokdo Lighthouse, Masikryong Ski Resort, etc. (Read more)

17. Taehwa Peak at Masikryong

Taehwa Peak at Masikryong

About 20km off of Wonsan City, we come to Masikryong Ski Resort. Here, we were checked into a gorgeous and luxury room. We took the ski lift up to Taehwa Peak which took about 45 minutes to get there. Since it wasn’t winter, we weren’t able to ski there. However, we enjoyed the beautiful sceneries that was offered while we were on the peak. The beautiful sunset welcomed us to this beautiful resort and I never felt like leaving this place ever again. (Read more)

18. Taehwa Peak at Masikryong

Taehwa Peak at Masikryong

Another view of the beautiful sunset at Masikryong. Here you can see the famous Masikryong Ski Resort which was built in only 10 months. The Masikryong (literally, horse-resting pass) project was initiated by the North Korean government as part of a drive to “make people not only possess strong physiques and sound mentality, but also enjoy their sports and cultural lives in a world’s advanced condition.” Average annual temperatures are 10.4 °C (Read more)

19. Pyongyang City

Pyongyang City Skyline

Another angle of the beautiful city of Pyongyang. In the middle, you can see the Yanggakdo Hotel, it is the tallest working hotel in North Korea. It is located on Yanggak Island in the Taedong river, two kilometres to the south-east of the centre of Pyongyang. The colourful and well organised buildings of Pyongyang never fails to impress me. (Read more)

20. Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum

Fatherland Liberation War Museum

One of my favourite places to visit in the country. The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum is an enormous war museum illustrating the DPRK’s struggle against the Japanese and the Americans. It has over 80 exhibition halls and one of the most majestic interiors of any museum I’ve ever been to. The most impressive part comes at the end where you will be taken to a revolving room and what is thought to be the biggest 360 panorama in the world. The background of the room is painted with battle scenes (according to the guides it took over 40 people more than 1 year to paint). (Read more)

21. Mount Myohyang

Mount Mohyang

Myohyangsan or Mysterious Fragrant Mountain, is a famous vacation spot for the people. It is named after the mystic shapes and fragrances found in the area. It is a sacred site as, according to legend, it was the home of King Tangun, forefather of the Korean people. Besides the beautiful view of the Myohyang mountain, there are other interesting places to visit such as the Pohyon Temple, International Friendship Exhibition and the luxury Hyangsan Hotel. Much of the mountain is covered by mixed broadleaf and coniferous forest and protected in a 16,000 hectares national park. (Read more)

22. Aerial View of North Korea

Aerial View of Pyongyang Farm

This shot was taken on our way back to Beijing. The beautiful green farms across the country is one of the most scenic things to see while airborne. With mountains surrounding the city and a lake in the middle. It shows how gorgeous this country can be. (Read more)

23. Mount Paektu

Mount Paektu at Samjiyon

The sacred mountain of Mounth Paektu. It was a dream come true to see the entire volcanic mountain from far. It was one of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen in my life. At 2,744 m, it is the highest mountain of the Changbai and Baekdudaegan ranges. It is located in Samjiyon where the weather was extremely cold. There was a small airpot here, so we took a small Air Koryo jet up there and spent a night to see this legendary mountain and the Heaven Lake at it’s peak. (Read more)

24. Heaven Lake of Mount Paektu

Mount Paektu at Samjiyon

Heaven Lake is a crater lake atop Mount Paektu that borders China and North Korea. It lies within a caldera atop the volcano, a part of the Baekdudaegan mountain range and the Changbai mountain range. In North Korean legend, Kim Jong-il is claimed to have been born near the lake on the mountain. Upon his death, the Korean Central News Agency claimed that the ice on the lake cracked “so loud, it seemed to shake the Heavens and the Earth.” (Read more)

25. Pyongyang Sunan International Airport

Pyongyang Sunan International Airport

A row of the retro Air Koryo fleet at the runway of Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport. Air Koryo or formally known as Chosŏn Minhang is the state-owned national flag carrier airline of North Korea. It operates international scheduled flights only at 3 destinations of Beijing, Shenyang and Vladivostok. They have numerous chartered flight destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Berlin, Manila and more. (Read more)

26. The Grand Monument at Samjiyon

Grand Monument at Lake Samji, Samjiyon

The Grand Monument at Samjiyon is also a must visit while in the area. We had to bow to the bronze statue to pay respect and listen to the local guide explain the history and legends of the sacred Mount Paektu. It is the second biggest monument to Kim Il-Sung. Erected in 1979 to commemorate the president’s revolutionary activity during the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle. The monument depicts young General Kim Il Sung in a 19.7 m bronze statue. In the area within 250m centered around the bronze statue stands a torch tower that depicts the Juche Ideology. On the right side of the Samjiyon Grand Monument there is the Samjiyon Revolutionary Museum displaying materials on the final attack for Korea’s liberation army in the Musan area. (Read more)

27. Rimyongsu Falls at Samjiyon

Samjiyon

Rimyongsu Falls are unique falls taking its source in the Heaven Lake on Mt.Paektu. It consists of 42 big and small falls within 4 km-section. There are 9 outlets with the average height is 6m. Below the falls there is river Rimyongsu. These falls are beautiful all year around, but in winter they present an especially spectacular view. We had a great time take group photos with the Korean locals as they were so excited to see Malaysians enjoying their beautiful country. (Read more)

28. Sunrise in the Capital

Sunrise in Pyongyang

I was slept early the night before because I wasn’t feeling well. The next morning, I woke up extremely early and I was amazed by this spectacular sunrise before me from my hotel window. I quickly grabbed my camera gear and started shooting. After enjoying this short lived sunrise, I was so happy that I had forgotten all about my sickness. I quickly woke up my wife and we headed out for breakfast at the hotel restaurant and I told her all about it. (Read more)

29. Pyongsong City

Pyongsong City

Not to be mistaken with Pyongyang, Pyongsong is the capital of the South Pyongan province. The city is located about 32 kilometres northeast of Pyongyang. It is also home to the Kim Jong Suk Secondary School where we could interact with the students. They were curious and asked us a lot of questions about our country in English. They told us that they learnt 3 languages in school, Korean, English and Mandarin. We also went to the Paeksong-ri Revolutionary site, which was where Kim Il-Sung University was temporarily relocated during the Korean War. (Read more)

30. Mid Autumn Festival at the Juche Tower

Celebration at Juche Tower

Mid-Autumn festival is a holiday for North Koreans. We were indeed lucky enough to see the colourful fountain show at the Taedong River overlooking the majestic Juche Tower. Locals and foreigners gather at the square to enjoy the spectacular display with catchy North Korean music. (Read more)

Bonus – Mass Dancing outside Kim Il Sung Stadium

Pyongyang City Mass Dancing Celebration

It was the DPRK’s National Day and there were celebrations all across the country. We were taking a stroll along Kim Il-Sung Stadium when we came across this awesome display of mass dancing by university students. The girls were all dressed in beautiful traditional costumes and all were in heels too. The boys wore university uniforms and all of them were having so much fun. We saw a couple of foreign tourists joining in the fun with their female guides. It was one of the best highlights of our trip. (Read more)

Conclusion

Here are some of the shots for everyone to enjoy and experience the beauty of the DPRK. A self-reliant country in which emphasis on education as it’s main priority is indeed a special country to live in. North Korea may not be your ‘modern’ or ‘wealthy’ country in Western standards, but it is in fact unique in it’s own way and the people are one of the most friendliest I’ve ever met throughout my travels to many places. The country is also extremely clean and I can honestly tell you that it sits next just to Japan in terms of cleanliness. A pure and plastic surgery-free North Korea has one of the most beautiful Korean girls in the world. Put North Korea in your list of exotic destinations to visit.

4 Comments

  • November 12, 2015 Reply

    Kimdomyung

    beautiful..

    • December 1, 2015 Reply

      admin

      Thank you very much, Kimdomyung

  • February 24, 2016 Reply

    Green

    Nice I was looking for the good side of North Korea, not everything can be bad, incredible photos keep the good work 😀

    • February 27, 2016 Reply

      admin

      Thank you very much Green. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Do come back for more. I’ll be posting more photos of the country very soon.

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