This day was packed with celebrations and festivities taking place all over the country. We visited several sites which were considered important to visit.
The Division of Korea
Our second day was the 9th of September 2019, which marks the day of founding of the republic, also known as National Day (인민정권 창건일).
After defeat in World War II, Imperial Japan surrendered control of Korea. Following the liberation from Japan, the country was divided along the 38th parallel into zones of occupation by the victorious Americans and Soviets. As a result, the Korean peninsula was divided into two countries, South Korea (ROK) and North Korea (DPRK).
Mansu Hill Grand Monument
First stop, an important site famous for its gigantic bronze statues of President Kim Il-sung and Chairman Kim Jong-il. It is customary to bow and lay flowers here, visiting is optional.
We left the Monument and were now heading to visit the Monument to Party Founding. Another well known landmark of the DPRK to idolise the Communist regime.
The Mass Dance that occurs on National Day was one great spectacle. If it wasn't humidity and 30°C+ heat I would of joined in for a lot more dances. 😅
Although, the mood and music was melancholy - I wish there were more people to share this moment with. It is unlike anything you'd ever see or experience, and you'd be glad to have visited just for this alone.
Kim Il-sung Square
We paid a visit the Pyongyang's central square, Kim Il-sung square. The home to many of North Korean military parades which draw international attention for it's demonstration of prowess and military flex.
We were then off to board a nice cruise lunch around the Taedong River; with a bonus entertainment hosted by the waitresses.
Floating Restaurant (힉당배)
Unfortunately for everyone, it's the same performance and band every night. They're not exactly in a position to hire a new band every night - this is the North Korean reality.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience on the boat and the cruise in general. I discovered out many quirks - like the sale of Sprite - a sanctioned product of the west.
I normally wouldn't bat an eye but until you remember that, in this country supposedly, sanctioned laws being violated openly in public can be dealt with harsh punishments. 🤷🏻♂️
Juche Tower (주체사상탑)
This looming tower topped with a torch that is always lit. We were on our a way to ascend to get some panoramic views of the city.
We were greeted with a new guide near the entrance who had a very eloquent English accent. She had showed us all the plaques from dignitaries all around the world which - which were conveniently placed at the entrance. This is another symbol to the Koreans and tourists that the world outside respects them.
It is not uncommon for the city to have blackouts - their main sources for power are from coal, solar and hydra. It is supposedly even worse for the countryside.
Enough doctrine for the day, it was time to head into the park and start interacting with some of the locals.
Immediately, this seemed surreal and not at all what you would think of when you say 'I'm going to North Korea'. You don't think of healthy green trees, hundreds of locals having a picnic, playing sports or jamming out on the karaoke.
I had to put my camera away and soak the moment in. In short, we just walked around and hiked up a small path towards our bus in the end.
We also lost someone towards the end, which caused the guides to panic and running around looking for the person. We found him in the end but we then had to rush everything... like the meal below. 🤬
Arirang Mass Games (아리랑 축제)
One of the most spectacular highlights throughout my traveling stint was sitting here at the Mass Games in North Korea. Can't describe the energy levels coming out from this stadium that night.
Despite what Vice News say, the Government didn't just open up tourism to see this event but it does fit the narrative. This is very much a demonstration of peak Nationalism.
Crazy to think that the stadium's only use is for the Mass Games - which only happens for two months in the year September and October.
The energy in the performance was out of this world. There wasn't a moment where you weren't stunned at the performing talent pool.
There won't be another opportunity to see anything like this on Earth and is something worth seeing with your own naked eye and not through videos or pictures.