10 October 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK). Despite all the excitement going around and leading up to the big day, still much of its information and details were shrouded in mystery. This includes the schedule of the parade and the location of where tourists could stand to view the event. On the day itself, we spent almost half a day standing around waiting for instructions. As buses and buses of tourists make their way to our location, it gave us the impression that we were standing in the right spot. In fact, after a while we noticed that everyone were in the wrong spot and not even our guides knew which path and where the parade was going to flow through. After hours of standing around and talking to strangers, everyone suddenly made a move over the Juche Tower Street to the crossroad overlooking the new apartments. That’s when we had the first glance of the parade’s ‘leftovers’ that tourists were allowed to see. There were also a large group of locals that gathered with us to wait for the parade.
We were told that tourists were not allowed to see the parade at Kim Il-Sung Square but we would be able to see other celebrations that would be held around the city. Despite all the notion, that didn’t stop me and my wife Fann from getting our trip planned out and heading there without a second thought. The actual day was celebrated with a massive military parade overseen by Marshall Kim Jong Un. Since we weren’t able to see the actual parade even though we were just a Taedong River away, still it was rather exciting to be in Pyongyang while it happened. The atmosphere was there, all the locals were happy and there was even a traffic jam in Pyongyang which delayed our dinner quite a bit.
Hints of the WPK anniversary were hard to avoid. Posters, decorations, flags of the event and party were seen almost everywhere you turn. It was indeed a special time to visit the DPRK. Performances were themed to fit the celebrations, Mass dances were everywhere, everyone wore beautiful traditional clothes, tons of foreign media toured the city, and best of all everyone was in a good mood. We even met quite some interesting people during this time around. We met with professors of famous universities from all around the world, we met some international VIPs that were invited to the parade, we talked to a couple of people from the media and Fann was even interviewed by Channel News Asia Singapore one morning (cick here to view). Apparently, the crew stayed in the same hotel as us. They overheard us talking and wanted to do an interview about us because we were from Malaysia.
Since there are lots of photos of the awesome parade all around the internet, I’ll show you the celebration from a humble tourist’s perspective. Here are a selection of photos before, after and during the anniversary celebration. Enjoy!
This was my 2nd time back to the hermit kingdom. People are curious as to why I would return to this country. It’s fair to say that I went back again because I wanted to capture more beautiful photos of their city. Pyongyang is a unique city. The streets are well organised, the architecture is unique and surreal, the people are beautiful and friendly, there are no advertising billboards, the feeling of going back in time is extremely exhilarating, and best of all the city is just too freaking gorgeous.
Unfortunately, not all were good during the celebration as a tourist at least. Many important sights were closed to the public, especially my favourite Juche Tower and the Grand People’s Study House. It affected our itinerary and was rather difficult to tour around the city. Despite the massive and last minute changes made to my custom itinerary, there were many beautiful memories to keep. I sure did miss out a lot of photo opportunities due to miscommunication and the mishandling of my trip, but still I try to stay positive. For those who are interested with my North Korea experiences and photos, just drop me a comment below or email. I will be posting up more photos from my trip. You can also check out my Flickr, Facebook and Instagram. I’ll be glad to fill you in with my experiences and stories I learnt while traveling in the mysterious lands of North Korea.
For more WPK’s 70th Anniversary photos click here