SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea will offer helicopter sightseeing tours of its capital, Pyongyang, starting from this month, tourist agencies specializing in trips to the isolated country told Reuters on Thursday.
North Korea does not publish tourist numbers but an estimated 6,000 Westerners visit the country each year, according to tour companies. The vast majority of tourists are from neighboring China.
PYONGYANG (Reuters) – When North Korea’s late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il opened the Pothonggang Department Store in December 2010, he called on it to play “a big role” in improving living standards in the capital Pyongyang, official media said.
Five years later, judging by the long lines inside the three-storey store that sells everything from electronic gadgets and cosmetics, to food and household goods, the Pothonggang is meeting Kim’s expectations – at least for privileged Pyongyang residents.
PYONGYANG (Reuters) – When North Korea’s late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il opened the Pothonggang Department Store in December 2010, he called on it to play “a big role” in improving living standards in the capital Pyongyang, official media said. Five years later, judging by the long lines inside the three-storey store that sells everything from electronic gadgets and cosmetics, to food and household goods, the Pothonggang is meeting Kim’s expectations – at least for privileged Pyongyang residents.But the department store also starkly illustrates the extent to which the underground market has become the new normal in isolated North Korea. And that poses a dilemma to the Kim family’s hereditary dictatorship, which up until now has kept tight control of a Soviet-style command economy, largely synonymous with rationing and material deprivation. Now that the black market has become the new normal, Kim Jong Un’s government has little choice but to continue its fledgling efforts at economic reforms that reflect market realities on the ground or risk losing its grip on power, experts say.
A Reuters reporter, allowed to roam the store with a government minder for a look at the North Korean consumer in action, noted almost all the price tags were in dollars as well as won. A Sharp TV was priced at 11.26 million won or $1,340; a water pump at 2.52 million won ($300). Beef was 76,000 won ($8.60) a kilogram. North Korean-made LED light bulbs sold for 42,000 won ($5). The exchange rate used in these prices – 8,400 won to the dollar – is 80 times higher than the official rate of 105 won to the dollar. At the official rate, the TV would cost over $100,000; the light bulb, $400.
PYONGYANG (Reuters) – Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States.
Thousands of troops stood at attention under a blue autumn sky in Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung Square, named after Kim Jong Un’s grandfather and the founder of the nation, as Kim, appearing relaxed and confident, made his speech, leaning heavily on the lectern.
PYONGYANG, Oct 10 (Reuters) – Isolated North Korea marked
the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party on Saturday
with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un
and a senior Chinese official who had delivered President Xi
Jinping’s call for stronger ties.
Thousands of troops stood at attention in perfect formation
under a blue autumn sky in Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung Square,
named after Kim Jong Un’s grandfather and the founder of the
nation, as Kim made his way to the podium.
PYONGYANG (Reuters) – Ahead of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party anniversary on Saturday, it is a parade of taxis, not tanks, that stands out most in the isolated country’s capital, Pyongyang. Parts of impoverished North Korea have been serviced for decades by a small fleet of run-down taxis, but in the last few years the industry has mushroomed in Pyongyang, fuelled by a rising consumer class.
One of the newest players is Air Koryo, North Korea’s national airline, which launched a fleet of sky blue and white taxis when Pyongyang’s new airport terminal opened earlier this year. “They didn’t just trickle in,” said Rowan Beard, a guide with Young Pioneer Tours, which brings in Western visitors. “Suddenly there were blue taxis absolutely everywhere.” The for-hire signs on the roofs of taxis cruising for fares now punctuate Pyongyang’s dimly-lit roads at night. Air Koryo’s taxis include sedans as well as mini buses and SUVs.
PYONGYANG, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Smartphones, traffic jams and
modern, energy-saving lights casting a dim glow on the streets –
North Korea’s capital shows signs of change even as it prepares
for a pageant of military muscle and propaganda of the kind the
country is know for.
One of the world’s most inaccessible places, North Korea has
invited foreign journalists to Pyongyang this week for
celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’
Party, and rising wealth is evident despite a creaking state
SEOUL, Sept 11 (Reuters) – It’s not Amazon or FedEx, but in
North Korea’s fledgling market economy a fleet of repurposed old
passenger buses is the next best thing for moving trade goods,
from rice to textiles and livestock, between far-flung corners
of the country.
Known as “servi-cha” – the name comes from “service” and
“car” – the money-making buses have been transporting goods in
recent years in what satellite imagery shows is an increasingly
robust, if still primitive, network.
SEOUL (Reuters) – Weeks after South Korea began blasting K-pop and anti-Pyongyang broadcasts from loudspeakers along the border with the reclusive North, a decades-old propaganda war may have erupted on a new front – South Korean karaoke parlors.
Socialist sing-songs are unlikely to resonate in the liberal, capitalist South, but Seoul’s National Security Law has since 1948 penalized people for distributing North Korean propaganda and lawmaker Hong Moon-pyo, of the ruling Saenuri Party, said the songs were like poison.
SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) – Heavy rain in North Korea killed 40 people, stranded thousands in flash floods and caused “massive” damage on the weekend, the International Federation of the Red Cross said and North Korean media said.
More than 11,000 people were forced from their homes or otherwise affected by the floods, which hit the northeastern city of Rajin, near the border with Russia and China, on Saturday and Sunday, Hler Gudjonsson, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Beijing told Reuters.