Photo-Report: The North Korea Neither Trump Nor Western Media Wants The World To See

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Photo © Eva Bartlett. A group of schoolgirls pause for a portrait photo at Pyongyang’s zoo. Watch a clip from the zoo.

 

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The Pyongyang International Football School opened in 2013. The complex includes a massive stadium and a school teaching all subjects, with football as a focus for the roughly 200 students. Different classes practiced their skills outside, doing warm-up drills to energetic music. When years ago I lived in Korea’s south, practicing Tae Kwan Do I warmed-up to similar drills.

 

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Students at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace playing the traditional Korean instrument, the kayagun. Listen to their performance here.

 

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In Pyongyang Middle School. Students spoke in English of the universal desire for peace, one girl urging people to struggle for peace. On the issue of North Korea’s weapons, one teenage boy said: “We make intercontinental ballistic rockets, not for invading other countries but for our national defense. To protect one’s country, the country must have a powerful defense. To my questions about the U.S. sanctions, a girl replied: “The sanctions are not fair, our people have done nothing wrong to the USA.” Another boy spoke of the silence around America’s use of nuclear bombs on civilians: “Why do people all over the world give us sanctions? Why just us? Why can’t we put sanctions on the U.S.? It’s not fair, it’s totally wrong.”

 

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In a hallway in the Middle School, a poster encourages students to alert authorities if they come across unexploded ordnance (UXOs). Our host, Kim Song-Nam, said: “We’re still discovering old bombs, for example when we dig to lay the foundation for a building.” This article noted the discovery of nearly 400 UXOs near an elementary school playground, that farmers periodically come across UXOs, and that the cleanup period may take longer than 100 years. At the Pyongyang War Museum, we learned: “There were 400,000 people in Pyongyang, and they dropped more bombs than that on the city.” 428,000 bombs, according to the museum guide.

 

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Students playing football outside the Middle School.  Watch the clip here.

 

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Pyongyang’s Science and Technology Center, completed in 2015, is an expansive structure heated by geothermal energy, and with drip irrigation-watered live grass on inside walls. Its more than 3,000 computers are solar powered, the library has books in 12 foreign languages, and a long-distance learning program enables people from around the country to study and earn a degree equivalent to that of in-university studies. Watch a tour of the center.

 

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Student in the aquarium section of Pyongyang’s zoo. While the zoo was well-maintained, by far most interesting was watching the human interactions, from schoolchildren to adults. Koreans returned our smiles with deep, genuine smiles. Watch a clip from the zoo.

 

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The Okryu Children’s Hospital is a six-story, 300-bed facility across from Pyongyang’s towering maternity hospital. U.S. sanctions on the DPRK prevent further entry of machines like the pictured CT scan. While defiantly proud of the health care system, Dr. Kim Un-Song spoke of her anger as a mother: “This is inhumane and against human rights. Medicine children need is under sanctions.”

 

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The Children’s Hospital provides classes to inpatient children to continue their studies while in hospital.

 

Dr. So-Yung (60) works in the tele-consultation department of the Children’s Hospital. “We have contacts with provincial-level and county-level hospitals, mostly about children’s diseases or illnesses. When they have difficulties with diagnoses, they request consultations from this hospital,” he explained. “I cannot suppress my anger about the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other countries. Yet, generally, it doesn’t affect our health system. We have a solid health system, we are giving proper treatment to people and are producing our own medicines.”

 

While walking up a path to the Pakyong Waterfall, over 100 km south of Pyongyang, I met a group of men and women grilling meat over a fire. At the waterfall, other picnickers ate grilled meat, fish, boiled eggs, kimbap (“Korean sushi”), and kimchi (fermented vegetables), drinking beer and soju (alcoholic drink). Having lived in South Korea, this scene is one I saw countless times along the sea or in the mountains. Watch clips here and here.

 

Beneath a tree near the waterfall, soldiers took turns being photographed with the waterfall as a backdrop. Later, they repeated at the waterfall. Watch here.

 

A group of men sit and chat near the base of the waterfall. Watch kids playing nearby here.

 

North Korea has suffered harsh periods of drought and starvation. The long-imposed brutal U.S. sanctions and destruction of the country don’t help matters. Yet, traveling over a hundred kilometers south from Pyongyang, we passed endless lush fields of corn and rice.

 

Plots of land surround houses in the Jangchon Cooperative Vegetable Farm. Homes are equipped with solar water heaters, and use methane gas for cooking. Song Myong-Oh moved with her husband from Kangnam county to the farm. Outside their home grew eggplants, peppers, corn, and herbs. Of America’s threats against North Korea she said: “Although we don’t want war, we are not afraid of the US.”

 

Inside the child-care center of the Jangchon Cooperative Farm. The cooperative also includes a cultural center for meetings and events, and rows of greenhouses.

 

At the Kaeson Youth Amusement Park inside the city one night, I interacted with people and tried out some of the rides. The park was packed with families and children, including a group of 14-year-olds who had visited multiple times. A schoolteacher from Nampo City said she frequently brings her students to visit. A young man next to me on one of the rides filmed with his mobile. With an entrance fee of 200 North Korean Won (about US $0.22), the lines were long. Photo: A second amusement Park outside of Pyongyang.

 

Under colonial Japanese rule, Pyongyang Silk Factory laborers worked in unsanitary conditions. When Korea gained independence, conditions were gradually modernized and improved. The present-day factory is clean and well lit, with water coolers throughout. The 1,600 workers work eight-hour shifts, with financial incentives to those who exceed their quotas. A nursery provides childcare, and unmarried women have accommodation on site, with a cafeteria and sports and leisure areas.

 

Fruit stand seen in Pyongyang. Small stands this size also sell snack food, sweets, water, sodas, beer, and ice cream.

 

A revolving bar and restaurant at the top of Yanggakdo Hotel overlooks a modern, rebuilt city. The DPRK receives tourists from around the world — especially China and Japan, but also South Koreans — and is continually opening up areas for tourism. The potential for more American tourism was recently stymied with the September 1, 2017 U.S. travel ban.

 

At Panmunjom, near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), one learns the North Korean side of history, including the over 8,400 ceasefire violations by the United States. One of many notable such violations was the espionage vessel, the USS Pueblo, now on display outside Pyongyang’s war museum. North Koreans on several occasions proposed to have peace treaty talks, with “no positive response from the U.S. side.”

This is something former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has visited the DPRK three times, confirmed — saying he had met with Kim Il-Sung in 1994 “in a time of crisis, when he agreed to put all their nuclear programs under strict supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency and to seek mutual agreement with the United States on a permanent peace treaty, to have summit talks with the president of South Korea.” Carter maintained Kim Jong-Il pledged he would honor these promises.

In a hall near the DMZ, photos depict 2000 and 2007 meetings between North and South discussing reunification, as well as the support of the people in both South and North. Our guide at Panmunjom noted: “On July 7, 1994, the day before he died, President Kim Il-Sung was looking through documents regarding reunification. He devoted his whole life to this.”

 

Pyongyang’s metro is a three-minute escalator ride below ground into a series of marble stations with elaborate chandeliers and beautiful wall paintings. Passengers ranged from well-dressed people, women in nice dresses and high heels, and others in casual blouses and slacks. Mosaics and engravings depict scenes of farming, construction, factories, rebuilding. Riding the metro costs the equivalent of a few cents. The tour group, Uri Tours, writes that half a million people ride the subway daily. Watch a clip of the metro here.

 

One of our hosts, Kim-Young, holding the flag of the DPRK. Behind her, the Juche tower, so-named after the dominant philosophy of self-reliance. Our other host, Kim Song-Nam, explained: “The Juche philosophy was created by President Kim Il-Sung. Man decides his own destiny, we rely on our own resources.”

 

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34 comments

  1. Dear Eva Bartlett,

    allways thankful for the reports you are writing, not least on the Korean people’s Republic! At the end you are shortly mentioning the Juche Philosophy. Would it be possible to get a more deeper insight on the thinking of the Juche Philosophy, or may be you might know a link etc. It might help to understand the country and its standfeastness better. Just in case you come along some information.

    Thank you. Cordially Detlev

  2. Wonderful docu-logue. The N. Koreans have created a beautiful country, a paradise for children. Any country that develops outside Washington’s domination is going to be targeted and there will be attempts to destabilize not only the DPRK, but Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and Iran and there are others. The lies are endless and outrageous. The assumption is that the US owns the world and it is joined by cowardly vassal states (NATO), all capitalists, that share the booty with the criminal mafioso ringleader and until the world realizes this, there will always be questions about “what the hell is going on.”
    China and Russia have been victimized for centuries by the West. They are not included in the organization of capitalist gangsters, they are our allies.

  3. Thanks, Detlev, I would recommend checking out Professor Tim Anderson’s writings on DPRK, he did quite a bit of reading about Juche.

  4. Thanks Eva, you do very good work. Any advice for an American desiring to visit Syria? I tried in 2015 and could not get a visa; the Syrian government doesn’t trust Americans for some reason….

  5. BTW, here is a LTE that I am sending this week. A good essay on the reality of Korea is offered by Brian Willson here: http://www.brianwillson.com/korea-like-vietnam-a-war-originated-and-maintained-by-deceit/

    Korea

    The real history of the Korean War is different from what we were taught in school. Korea was a unified kingdom for hundreds of years before it was invaded by Japan in 1905. There was no North and South Korea. When the Japanese surrendered in August of 1945 the Koreans were jubilant. The country was divided into North and South by the United States on August 15, 1945. Russia later agreed to this unilateral American action but had no part in setting it at the 38 Parallel.

    South Korea formed a national government on September 6th 1945; the US military arrived on September 8th and dissolved it, setting up a puppet dictatorship. Many Koreans resisted this foreign domination; it is estimated that more than 500,000 South Koreans were murdered by the South Korean government (with American complicity) before the beginning of the war.

    There were over one thousand border conflicts along the 38th Parallel between 1948 and the beginning of the Korean War in 1950, many of them initiated by the South. During the war itself the US military savaged North Korea, destroying every city, every village. every road, every rail line, every dam. One third of the entire population of the North was slaughtered, 3 million people, many vaporized by napalm. Those who survived did so by eating grass and tree bark. The war was 100% a fabrication of the United States; remember, the U.S. created two countries that had been one.

    One year after the 1953 truce that ended the Korean War, The U.S. went to war in Vietnam. Since then we have ravaged Laos, Cambodia, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria in that order. The United States is addicted to war, addicted to killing other human beings. Anyone with a shred of compassion will be overwhelmed by the death and destruction we sow in the world.

    Dana Visalli

  6. THE THING ABOUT THE ANTI-NORTH KOREA PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN
    IS THAT WHEN ONE SEES EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY–LIKE HERE–IT BRINGS INTO SHARP RELIEF HOW IS SO THOROUGHLY A MISLEADING AND DEHUMANIZING A PICTURE IS PRESENTED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

  7. Thanks so much Eva! If Americans an others would watch these videos and read your words, there could be some understanding instead of lies and hatred about the DPRK, which has achieved so much and puts the rest of the world to shame in its buildings, health and education systems.

  8. if it was anyone else I would find it impossible to believe…are you saying you went ‘off the official reservations’ and took a look around, and got to see the ‘real north korea’? Of course after realising 911 was a joint U.S-Israeli false flag, and that ‘The Holocaust’ never happened, and that Venezuala is actually doing quite well, like Cuba, despite U.S sanctions, this is an easier ‘fact’ to swallow… Who financed this trip? Did you really get to see ‘the real’ north korea?

  9. Eva I would love to work with you, I am a veteran for peace ex officer in the 187th Airborne who served in Korea in 53.I learned how my government lied about who started the war in Korea in 1950 many years after the fact. I learned it from I.F.Stone and Bruce Cummings, The US needed the war because their candidate S Rhee lost the election in May 1950 and So Korea was poised to rejoin the North. This was the start of the cold war and the US would not let aNY DEPENDENCY OF THEIR GO COMMUNIST. So they had the south military engage the North and when the North responded and started coming south, the US used that to claim the North Started the war. Russ Christensen from West Farmington, Me. My middle name is Bartlett after my grandfather on my mother’s side.

  10. Thank you for so much for your article! In a perfect world, great work such as yours, should have been published in the mainstream media (along with many others). I am ashamed of our corporate media and governments working so diligently to promote ignorance while continuing criminal conduct globally. Our journalists seem to have been neutered and gutted, now only suited for nonsense about; haircuts, flag waving and who stands during anthems…In this regard, we should all be seated, never mind taking a knee. Unless or until we have something to be proud of other than the march towards totalitarianism…

  11. I admit I learned something about a beautiful, impressive country and her brave people and reduced in a small way the brainwashing we are exposed to day and night by our slavemasters . Thanks to the Internet do we still have an opportunity, although under assault, to see the world a bit more realistic. Fabulaous job, Eva. Thank you… from a German citizen who needed to move to the US nearly 30 years ago to discover what evil place my host country really is.

  12. Always love it when someone asks “who financed this trip” when I go to Syria or in this case DPRK.
    Answer, its really none of your business. But it was myself with support from individuals who like my advocacy work.

  13. Thanks, Sami, very true about MSM. Many of us joke that they are the dinosaur media. Another appropriate term, colonial media.
    They’ll 99% or more of the time lie or distort on important issues. I’m proud to not be a part of that system. I’ve maintained my values and principles and no one can put words in my mouth nor edit my writing beyond the odd grammatical and typo fixes. Thanks again.

  14. Hi Dana. Depends where and how you tried. I know many Americans who have gone to Syria, including within a month or so ago. Most Western governments closed Syrian embassies making it difficult for people to apply for visas to Syria, but more importantly making it more difficult for Syrians living abroad to do things like get/renew passports, register children, vote in their elections.

    For what it is worth, I’ve waited for over a month on many occasions in Lebanon for a visa to Syria. Never easy. I don’t at all hold at fault a country that is being warred upon by most Western (and Gulf, etc…) nations for taking their time with visa applications. They have a lot more to deal with. That said, try applying in Lebanon or another country which has not forced the Syrian embassy to close.

  15. Thanks for posting that, Dana. I’m familiar with the great writing of Brian Willson, but hopefully others will see it too.

  16. This is a very important story that all Americans should see, and all the world. There is so much propaganda against North Korea! Perhaps social and independent media can change this. We also need more cultural exchanges among ordinary workers and students.

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