The isolated and secretive country of North Korea boasts it’s capital like no other. It is indeed the showcase city of the DPRK. Showing off huge and gigantic monuments, massive displays of propaganda visuals and slogans, the city of Pyongyang is one of the most uniquely beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. The most distinctive feature of the city is the amazingly tidy town planning of buildings and roads. Not only are the structures here colossal and majestic, the city looks like it’s been designed by someone with a serious case of OCD, symmetrical and extremely organised. It kinds of give you the chills when you see the city skyline from above.
During the Korean War, Pyongyang was basically bombed extensively into puddles of mud by the American forces. It was widely known that the devastation of the city was so complete that bombing was halted as there were no longer any worthy targets. Therefore, they had their talented architects visualise how a Socialist Utopia would look like in the future. With great influence from the USSR, they had many of their buildings rebuilt mainly in the Socialist Classicism style. The city was designed with wide avenues, imposing monuments and monolithic buildings. Together, the people of Korea rebuilt the city from scratch under their booming economy in the past and under the guidance of their Great Leader, Kim Il-Sung. Pyongyang rose into a futuristic city that was ahead of its time.
To be fair, Pyongyang looks like a futuristic city that was visualised by someone back in the 60s. Something like what you see from a Jetsons cartoon without the spaceships of course. Their building designs may be unusual or ‘not modern enough’ to us, but it’s quite impressive to understand that the structures they built are to reinforce their political ideology. It is a city that reflects its socialist ideals in the best way possible. Whether in the form of gigantic sculptures or propaganda posters, or mosaic tiles on the exterior and interior of most buildings, everywhere you look, you can’t get too far from what they are trying to portray their version of an utopia.
When I flew in from Beijing, I could only see rows and rows of farm fields all across the country from the plane window. But once we landed and entered Pyongyang, it was quite a shock to see the big contrast where humongous buildings and high rise apartments dominate the skyline. The weird part is that when you see a city full of high-rises, you’d expect to hear noises of traffic, of peoples’ chatter, of police sirens but instead, what we got was a city that’s extremely clean, there was not much traffic and it was awfully quiet. We spent quite a number of days in Pyongyang, visiting monuments and bowing to statues. Although we weren’t allowed to freely roam the city without our guides, still it was an awesome experience. We got enough freedom to capture as many photos as we could. Putting all the biased documentaries I’ve watched about North Korea over the pass few years aside, I think Pyongyang has got some awesome buildings and designs that kick many developed countries’ ass. Here I present to you, Pyongyang City Style: