North Korea is one of the most closed countries in the world, and therefore local attractions are shrouded in a halo of mystery. But there is something to see here.
Things to do in North Korea
The architecture is permeated with the Juche ideology. Its visual embodiment is the gigantic Ryugyong Hotel. Its unusual exterior, reminiscent of a rocket at the start, will be appreciated by fans of futuristic forms.
Those who want to add a bit of surrealism to their trip should include a visit to the mausoleum, where the bodies of the deceased Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are put on public display.
To defuse the situation, you can go to the historical museum. There are interesting exhibits from the Stone Age. The oldest artifact is 1 million years old.
Paektusan is the highest mountain in North Korea. This is an extinct volcano, in the mouth of which the «Heavenly Lake» was formed — a stunningly beautiful reservoir. Lovers of nature and unusual landscapes will like it here.
The construction of the tallest skyscraper in North Korea began in 1987; Due to lack of funding, the hotel was completed only in 2016, but it still does not work.
The height of the rocket-shaped building is 330 m (105 floors). They host 3,000 rooms, 7 restaurants, several nightclubs and a casino. The total area of internal premises exceeds 360 thousand square meters. m.
Ryugyong translates as «Willow Capital» — this is the old name of Pyongyang, the capital of the state.
Mausoleum of Kim Il Sung
The tomb, in which two former North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il are buried, is a real place of worship for local residents. Once the majestic building was the residence of Kim Il Sung — where he worked and received visitors.
After the death of the head of state, his son ordered the palace to be converted into a mausoleum. After 17 years, Kim Jong Il was buried in the same tomb. The bodies of both leaders are embalmed and rest in glass coffins in separate halls.
Tourists are allowed into the mausoleum 2 times a week exclusively as part of organized groups. Dress code required. Opposite the gray building is a cemetery of revolutionaries, a spacious square and a park.
Juche Idea Monument
The gray granite obelisk was erected for the 70th anniversary of Kim Il Sung. The height of the majestic structure topped with a torch is 170 m. This is the second tallest structure in Pyongyang. At the top there is an observation deck where tourists are delivered by a high-speed elevator.
At the foot of the monument there is a 30-meter sculptural group: Worker, Collective Farm Woman and Intellectual. Nearby there is a square, which, in addition to flower beds and trees, is decorated with 6 statues depicting representatives of different professions.
The massive structure with columns and a 3-level roof was inaugurated in 1982. It symbolizes the courage and fortitude of the North Korean people who fought against the Japanese invaders from 1925 to 1945.
The snow-white arch is made up of 25,500 granite blocks. This number corresponds to the number of days that Kim Il Sung lived. You can see the attraction on the way to Mount Moranbon.
The structure, built in 2001, is also known as the Three Charters Arch, after the number of declarations signed by North and South Korea in 1972. The documents contain a number of conditions that make possible the coexistence of these states.
The construction represents two girls in national dresses, rushing towards each other. In their hands they hold a single map of North and South. Under the arch is a 4-lane highway connecting Pyongyang and the demilitarized zone.
Kim Il Sung Square
The largest area (75 thousand square meters) in Pyongyang was opened in 1954. It is opposite the Juche Monument, which rises on the opposite bank of the Taedong River. The vast territory is paved with granite.
Military parades and cultural events are held here. Up to 100 thousand people can be on the square at the same time. Kim Il Sung Square is one of the TOP 30 largest squares in the world.
The former capital of the Korean state is located about 125 km from Pyongyang. In the X-XIV centuries, cultural, political and economic life was in full swing here. The city survived 3 wars, many buildings were destroyed, but even in this form they deserve the closest attention.
Among them are the palace of the ruling dynasty of Goryeo (981), the Songjuk Bridge (XIII century), as well as the ruins of temples. You should definitely visit the tomb of King Gongmin and visit the historical museum.
In the suburbs of Kaesong, ginseng is grown on an industrial scale. So you can combine a trip with a visit to a pharmacy or a shop that sells healing potions based on this root.
In a village about 12 km from the capital, Kim Il Sung was born and spent his childhood. Therefore, Mangyongdae is a place of pilgrimage where every Korean has visited at least once in his life. The leader’s house was turned into a museum. The exposition is not rich: an inkwell and a desk at which the future leader worked and studied.
An observation deck is equipped at the highest point of the village, from where you can admire the surroundings and the panorama of majestic Pyongyang. There is a square nearby, and a little further stands the Revolutionary School.
The Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, is the border between the two Koreas at the 38th parallel. The demarcation line is 4 km wide and 241 km long. The most visited and heavily guarded attraction in North Korea can only be visited as part of a tour group.
In the program: a visit to the monument, which represents four members of families (from the North and the South), trying to connect the globe split in half, and a visit to the Imjingak pavilion. The latter consists of 4 levels. On the first one there is a thematic museum, the exhibits of which tell about the history and achievements of the North Korean people.
Military equipment is exhibited in the courtyard, and a park is laid out around the pavilion. But the most exciting part of the trip is the hike through the underground tunnel number 3. According to propaganda, the passage was dug by South Korean soldiers who planned a treacherous attack on a neighbor, but their insidious plan was prevented.
Museum of the Korean Revolution
The State Museum opened in 1948. He later moved to a new building on Mansudae Hill. The structure is decorated with a huge granite panel (70×12.85 m), which depicts Mount Paektusan — according to legend, it was there that Kim Jong Il was born. Against the background of the panel rise two huge sculptures of the deceased leaders.
Numerous sculptural groups made of red granite are installed on the sides of the museum. One consists of 119 figures, the second of 109 images in stone. The first is dedicated to the fight against the Japanese, the second praises the values of socialism.
The expositions exhibit photographs, personal items, documents and other artifacts related to North Korea’s revolutionary struggle for independence.
Central Historical Museum
The museum was founded in 1945. It consists of 19 halls in which exhibits are exhibited, from the Stone Age to the present. Of particular interest are exhibitions that tell about the ancient states that existed on the Korean Peninsula.
You should definitely visit the archaeological hall, where the finds from the monument to Komunmor are stored. Some are over 1 million years old. Other interesting exhibits include an armored turtle ship, a bone flute, a water clock, and murals from a tomb in Tokhung. Models of the main historical monuments from all over the state are presented separately.
The highest point of the mountain range in the southeastern part of the country is Geumgangsan Peak, rushing into the sky at almost 1640 m. It is famous for its picturesque views: emerald forests, mirror lakes, murmuring waterfalls and bizarre rocks.
Summers are short, winters are notable for the abundance of snow. A large number of Buddhist shrines are concentrated in this area. And all the necessary infrastructure is concentrated in the town of Taebaek.
The highest mountain on the peninsula (2744 m) is located on the border of North Korea and China. Both powers jointly created a nature reserve on the slopes of the peak. It is inhabited by bears, leopards, tigers, deer and other animals.
Baekdusan translates to «White-Headed Mountain». She received such a nickname because of the snow caps on the peaks and the pumice stone that covers the steep slopes. The main point of attraction is Cheongji Lake, or Heavenly Lake. Baekdusan is a long-extinct volcano, and a beautiful blue-green pool is located in one of its craters. The coast is lined with sharp rocks.
Cheongji is the deepest volcanic lake in the world (its depth varies from 200 to 370 m), and it is located at an altitude of 2189 m.
Pyongyang Central Zoo
This is a natural park with an area of about 100 hectares, laid out at the foot of Daesongsan Mountain. Tigers, lions, elephants, hippos, deer, wild boars and other animals live on a vast territory.
Among the diverse fauna from all over the world, more than 90 dogs of 30 breeds are kept in separate enclosures. Almost all individuals were presented as a gift to the leader of North Korea. There is also an aquarium where freshwater and marine fish swim.