Country News North Korea

Souvenirs from North Korea – Earth Nutshell


North Korean Propaganda Postcards


Left: “If the US imperialists purpose their gun at us, we’ll do the identical, however with our cannon!”

Proper: “We’ll battle the robust by being even harder!”

North Korean postcards are usually not delicate. They’re typically vibrant, militaristic, confronting and introduced to be motivational. By sending one, you might make a postman’s day or maybe add your self to a authorities watch listing. I’ve about thirty of those postcards, every has totally different socialist-realist paintings and distinctive slogans that reference elements of North Korea’s revolutionary historical past and their objective of a affluent future. The anti-American and anti-Japanese sentiment stays robust, however basically these postcards reference proud features of up to date North Korean tradition reminiscent of scientific development, the Songun Coverage, Juche Concept or Chollima Motion, the position of North Korean youngsters as future intellectuals, the celebration of sporting achievements or performing arts, the opening of Masikryong Ski Resort and even tributes to bean farming coverage. A mosaic of those postcards would give a transparent indication of what the North Koreans maintain pricey (formally).



Prime Left: “Give us any command!”

Backside Left: “With the united power of the entire nation, let’s destroy (detonate) the nuclear conflict manoeuvre provocation of the US!”

Proper: “Elevating the sound of the marching group’s trumpet, let’s march ahead in the direction of a strong nation!”

Kaesong Koryo Insam Liquor


This high-quality beverage is a ‘Particular Class Commodity’ and resulting from its excessive price ticket, is just obtainable to the rich, usually these which are a part of the rising middle-class or elite in Pyongyang. If the field is to be believed, it’s earned each ‘Gold Medals’ and ‘Diplomas’ to worldwide acclaim.


It’s a 700ml, 86 proof bottle of 20-year-old rice alcohol distilled and bottled in Kaesong, North Korea. It incorporates Kaesong’s speciality ‘insam’ (ginseng), an in depth root plant that’s been grown for six years, the right timing to extremely concentrated vitamins. The ginseng is claimed to wield a myriad of medicinal advantages comparable to beating bodily or psychological fatigue to treating diabetes. Ginseng is discovered globally however the Korean ginseng has a strong status, North Korea even began producing a ‘marvel drug’ named Kumdang-2 which incorporates ginseng and traces of uncommon earth metals similar to gold and platinum. It allegedly cures Ebola, AIDS, MERS, tuberculosis and most cancers.

I bought this liquor from the Kwangbok Grocery store in Pyongyang. On the time, this retailer had solely simply opened and I used to be simply the second foreigner ever allowed inside. A plaque on the doorway commemorated the dates that each Common Kim Jong-Il and Marshal Kim Jong-Un had given ‘field-guidance’ to the shop. Images was banned (and it stays that method) and I used to be permitted solely to go to the primary flooring (this restriction has since been lifted). It’s unlawful for vacationers to deal with native foreign money, so on the time I needed to line as much as obtain a receipt, then head over to the foreign money trade sales space providing unofficial, black market North Korean Gained charges. It was right here you make cost, obtain a best-attempt at change in three totally different foreign currency echange, after which take your receipt again to gather your items. Quick-forward two years and Kwangbok Grocery store now serves as the one place in Pyongyang that vacationers are permitted to change and use native foreign money freely regardless of it remaining unlawful. North Korean contradictions are typically puzzling.

As I attempted to go away North Korea this go to, a Common from the Korean Individuals’s Military discovered the ginseng liquor whereas looking my baggage in Sinuiju. Smiles aren’t derived effortlessly in North Korea, however after he noticed this golden water I acquired a glowing ear-to-ear of absolute approval. This smile then evaporated once I refused to let it go as a bribe. I loved a 2.5-hour shakedown that day. I later gave the liquor to my dad and we nonetheless haven’t drunk it, I feel he likes having the one one in Tasmania.

North Korean Stamps


Prime Left: Mechanisation. Automation. Distant management. (Juche, self-reliance ideology and technological development)

Prime Center: 10 Century to 14 century (historic dynasty of North Korea)

Prime Proper: UNDP (United Nations Improvement Programme) technical cooperation for 40 years, 1990.

Backside Left: Mansudae Grand Monument, the anti-Japanese revolutionary wrestle for 10 years, 1974.

Backside Proper: Staff Get together of Korea Sixth Congress determination, let’s unite for piercing penetration! The Federal Democratic Republic IO administrative coverage. Frequency, equal peace, nationwide unity (reunification).

For an remoted nation with a well-documented stranglehold over freedom of communication, North Korea produce a variety of stamps. They’re used within the home publish however are primarily made for overseas consumption, notably in China which is the most important stamp amassing market on the planet. Collections are in depth and while army achievement, political ideology and sporting milestones play a robust position within the stamp’s designs, lots of them are cultural throwbacks to historic Korean historical past and even generic themed collections of canine varieties, pure wonders or crops. You will discover in depth (and well-presented) collections on the market within the Koryo Stamp Museum in Pyongyang or the Koryo Stamp Store in Kaesong and they don’t seem to be low cost, beginning at about 25 euro.

Pictured are some unfastened pattern stamps.


Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea flag


This cheaply made Democratic Individuals’s Republic of North Korea flag obtained me right into a little bit of strife throughout my go to.

It was September 9, Nationwide Day, an necessary calendar occasion celebrating the founding of the DPRK. I had bought this flag from the Yanggakdo Lodge in Pyongyang with the intention of becoming a member of the festivities with light-hearted pseudo-nationalism, which went down incredible and derived many smiles that day. Nevertheless, because the day got here to an finish and after tucking into my dinner, I used to be interrupted and brought apart by one among my guides to be briefed on the state of affairs.

Upon arrival again to the lodge, I had left all however my requirements on the bus. It was widespread for us to go away waters, sweets or non-valuables at our seats (we used the identical bus every day), however tonight I had additionally left the North Korean flag sitting within the again pocket of the seat in entrance. My information requested me if I had executed this, to which I responded that I had. I used to be then suggested that the bus driver had found the flag and had perceived this motion as a transparent try at disposing of stated flag, an anti-State hostile act on a day of such nationwide significance. He had reported this offence to the guides. Fairly alarmed at this level and with imaginative and prescient as to the place this was heading, I gave my utmost apology to my information, which it was filtered again to the driving force. Some tense minutes adopted earlier than my apology was accepted, and I used to be advised to gather my flag and put it into protected preserving.

To go away North Korea with this flag was all the time my intention, however in that second it didn’t matter. The state of affairs might have escalated and it was as easy and as harmless as that. As a traveller, it is very important be nicely conscious of, and present respect and sensitivity to, the cultural norms of any nation, however nowhere is that this extra essential than in North Korea. The stakes are greater and this transgression was a stern reminder.

From that time on, my flag was rigorously folded and stored in my baggage like a pet rock that I checked up on often. Right here it’s on your viewing at this time. An fascinating memento.

‘See You In Pyongyang’ T-shirt


On the time, this t-shirt was the one government-approved attire on the market to vacationers in the whole nation of North Korea. I solely noticed it on the market as soon as in Pyongyang. The design is about as sterile, unimaginative and cheesy as memento t-shirts get, the type that first-time vacationers to San Francisco maintain no disgrace sporting. In saying that, most of us on this tour (together with me!) bought one regardless of a meagre selection of simply three colors. We did yearn for some selection, and even with cash to spend, it was a fast crash-course in socialism: Regardless of our demanding fists full of money, provide was bottlenecked by the state equipment. Market freedom is restricted, locals merely can’t produce their very own designs and promote them legally. On the again under the neck is a small land mass map of North Korea, with the textual content ‘Pyongyang DPRKorea’. This t-shirt obtained me loads of consideration in China on the day I left North Korea (due to course, I used to be sporting it!).

Postcard house to Australia from Pyongyang


Firstly, I apologize for my handwriting. It’s shameful. Anyhow, this postcard I despatched from Pyongyang to my mother and father on 13/09/2014 took many months however ultimately did flip up. All postcards despatched from North Korea are translated and screened by officers, so my phrases have been chosen correctly. Something untoward or essential ensures it’ll by no means see past the border and should land you in scorching water. I did my greatest to sugar coat the expertise because of this, however frankly, it’s principally real. My tongue-in-cheek ode to the Supreme Commander Kim Jong-Un on the finish was strolling a superb line, however I merely couldn’t assist myself.

DVD: A Visitors Controller on Crossroads



I bought this DVD from the Grand Individuals’s Research Home in Pyongyang. It’s directed, produced and distributed in North Korea and stars the long-lasting Pyongyang visitors women that I’m satisfied are topic to a nationalistic fetish in North Korea. You’ll discover the distributor is ‘Mokran Video’, the ‘mokran’ (mongolia) is North Korea’s nationwide flower and also you’ll discover this emblem on each DVD legally bought in Pyongyang, even on the disk of acquainted western titles comparable to Tarzan, the Lion King and Aladdin that may be discovered available in road stalls; they’ve been pirated and are bought at a state degree.

Pyongyang’s visitors women are synonymous with Pyongyang metropolis life and it’s a well-regarded place rumoured to be fulfilled by solely these ladies handpicked by Marshal Kim Jong-Un himself. Whether or not rain, hail or shine these lovely ladies are dressed immaculately and function close to robotically with actions of militaristic intention. No one dare crosses the intimidating regulation enforcement of the visitors woman on the streets of Pyongyang and as a result of a scarcity of ‘orange mild’, you’ll typically witness automobiles come to a screeching halt on the change of their sign. The ladies may even salute passing automobiles pushed by Employee’s Get together of Korea officers who sometimes have quantity plates starting with 7-27. This quantity represents July 27, Victory Day on the North Korean calendar when the armistice was signed marking the top of preventing within the Korean Conflict.

North Korea Flag Pin and Stamp


All North Korean residents should put on, by regulation, a lapel pin of the late leaders above their coronary heart. Strange residents often put on that of both President Kim Il-Sung or Basic Kim Jong-Il themselves, whereas these of upper social standing are permitted to put on a costlier, double portrait model.

As a foreigner, you aren’t allowed to buy the genuine pins, they have to be introduced to you (which has occurred for some foreigners working within the nation). Vacationers are as an alternative urged to purchase the (much less fascinating) memento North Korean flag model pictured right here. So I did. The stamp was truly given to me as a part of my change when a venue ran out of overseas foreign money, as you aren’t aren’t allowed to deal with or use the native North Korean Gained.

North Korean Cigarettes


“Cigarettes are dangerous in your well being.” Shocking, proper? The juxtaposition between well being warnings adopted by a lot of the trendy world and the in any other case regarding way of life circumstances pressured upon residents of North Korea might depart you scratching your head. Me too. Has North Korea really adopted such an inexpensive stance on a recognized well being hazard? In all probability. Alternatively, it’s been hypothesised as a solution to scale back the worth of cigarettes as a foreign money between North Korean individuals, primarily bribery. Believable. Commodity shortage is rife, making cigarettes a extremely helpful foreign money on the North Korean markets.

These cigarettes particularly, ‘Lake Samilpo’, are named after a south-eastern lake of the identical identify I visited in North Korea. A non-smoker myself, and one which’s doubtless spent too lengthy in Asia, I bought them as an icebreaker and foreign money. Unbeknownst to me, they’re a extremely regarded model related to male standing in North Korea, so I ended up handing out packets just like the Santa Claus of cigarettes. This couple I stored as product mementoes, although!

E-book: Supreme Chief Kim Jong Un within the Yr 2012


I bought this ebook on the Overseas Language Bookstore in Pyongyang. A small trusted group of foreigners are employed to translate Korean publications into different languages to distribute the re-education past North Korean borders and into worldwide acclaim.

This specific e-book was extensively distributed, I noticed it at most memento desks throughout my go to to North Korea. I’d say it’s because the transition between Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un’s new management continues to be a delicate political matter they usually’re making an attempt to get some circulation. Confidence from the individuals in Kim Jong-Un as the brand new commander is paramount to North Korea persevering with ahead unchanged.

Your complete guide is a celebration into Kim Jong-Un, particularly, his ‘accomplishments’ and the unconditional, endearing love he has (already) ‘earned’ from his individuals. Comparatively unknown previous to his management, Kim Jong-Un is now present process a part the place a story is being constructed and attributed to his life for propaganda functions, a lot the identical as his father and grandfather. I imply, he’s the Supreme Commander of the Korean Individuals’s Military, the fourth largest military on the earth and has had no formal army expertise. He wants the storytelling behind him.




Air Koryo Gadgets


Air Koryo is North Korea’s solely airline, it’s state-owned, the flag service and the primary level of contact for you as a foreigner into the hermit kingdom. The Pyongyang Occasions is complimentary upon boarding, and the stewardesses don their leaders pins above their hearts. It’s the solely one-star rated airline on earth, and till 2010 was banned from getting into the European Union because of security and upkeep considerations. Was it that dangerous to fly on? I didn’t assume so, however the meals high quality is in a league of its personal, even by airline requirements. Their concept of a vegetarian burger was two items of bread with lettuce. I’m not exaggerating. I imply, I assume technically right is the perfect sort of right in any case.

Both means, I needed to take a memento from the flight with Air Koryo as Air China printed my boarding cross in Beijing and it didn’t tick the memento checkbox…so the subsequent neatest thing? An Air Koryo branded air illness bag and hand-towel. I maintain no disgrace!

Masik Move Slippers


Ordered by Kim Jong-Un himself, Masik Move Ski Resort was constructed by the Korean Individuals’s Military in simply ten months to spice up tourism numbers. After my go to, I can confidently declare that Masik Move is way and away probably the most luxurious constructing obtainable to the ‘public’ in North Korea. Simply.

So, I took their slippers. I feel that was allowed, however I’m not sure. If not, I apologise, they usually’re nonetheless of their shrink wrapping. Sadly, there was no matching robe.

Masik Move was merely beautiful inside, it’s nothing like anyplace else we stayed. It’s on par with worldwide luxurious requirements and jogged my memory of The Venetian in Las Vegas, particularly the loos. It sits in the midst of nowhere with a vibrant attract. Not dangerous for a rustic with an influence scarcity, particularly contemplating we have been the one friends, and the employees outnumbered us. Man, that was a bizarre go to.

One other enjoyable reality: Masik Cross got here to worldwide notoriety in 2013 after having it’s outsourced ski raise order blocked by the United Nations, classifying it a ‘prestigious propaganda challenge’. North Korea formally responded by labelling the choice a critical abuse of human rights.

CD: The Music of the Solar Will Be Immortal



With trendy classics akin to “Lengthy Stay Generalissimo Kim Il Sung”, “Our Chief Beloved of Individuals” and “The Common Lives Perpetually because the Solar”, I simply needed to have it. Apparently the eighth CD within the assortment, a fast ponder of the monitor listing might depart you questioning what number of additional amalgamations of Kim Il-Sung and authoritarian synonyms are left mathematically attainable.

In all seriousness, I needed to go away North Korea with one thing like this. North Korean music is exclusive, each music is politically influenced — pop music as we all know it merely doesn’t exist. Musical freedom is undefined, it’s often militaristic, upbeat and supported orchestrally with feminine vocals. References to the leaders and self-reliance ideology are sure. I watched many performances on Korean State Tv in Pyongyang, and it focussed extra on the spiritual celebration (of the leaders) than the music. Superb stuff, and a fantastic memento.

The Pyongyang Occasions


The Pyongyang Occasions is the overseas language version of the native Korean newspaper distributed throughout the nation. This newspaper is North Korean residents’ solely publicity to the surface world, it’s state managed and gives a restricted view of actuality. It’s an interesting learn.

I used to be informed that by regulation, Kim Jong-Un is featured on the entrance web page of every version and that it’s unlawful to fold within the center, because it might crease the Nice Chief’s head. The paper can’t be utilized in a disrespectful method (firestarter, cleansing a multitude, and so forth.) because it retains close to holy standing, outlining the development of the Korean individuals and the Juche ideology. I learn three editions and located that every one adopted the identical construction, starting with political accomplishments and celebrations, adopted by technological and social breakthroughs earlier than providing a double unfold in focused, aggressive propaganda claims in the direction of South Korea, United States and Japan. Details have been optionally available. Sport and smaller success tales have been on the again web page.

The Pyongyang Occasions has prior to now been scrutinised as a result of its artistic licence, together with claims of South Korea’s ‘poor human rights report’, of sustaining a 50% unemployment fee and their unfold of incurable illness.

This newspaper was one in every of my favorite souvenirs. I’ve included three articles under from inside, they’re an entertaining learn.




P.S – Do you might have any souvenirs with an fascinating story out of your travels? In that case, I’d love to listen to about it within the feedback under!

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