Countries that have a capital city with a weird name – North Korea

For many North Korea is a pariah state. Staunchly communist, it laughingly refers to itself as the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. Sadly, for the poor citizens of North Korea, the only democracy in the country is giving the leader the choice of killing the country’s citizens through either slavery or famine. Freedom of choice is not an option open to North Koreans, and the despotic government goes to great pains to ensure that its citizens are devoid of any human rights at all.

The capital of North Korea is called Pyongyang, and it is a show city, like many other national capitals, which is endowed with many glorious buildings, marvellous open squares, hardly any traffic and a total lack of personality.

Pyongyang sits astride the banks of the Taedong River in the western part of North Korea, about 35 kilometres from the coast. The name Pyongyang is Korean for “flat lands”, which pretty much describes the river plain on which it sits.

Sadly, for the citizens of Pyongyang, the climate verges on the atrocious. In winter it gets very cold, but that situation is worsened by the bitter winds which blow down straight from Siberia, so the wind chill factor can be horrendous. The most popular dish in Pyongyang is a cold buckwheat noodle soup, so you could imagine how satisfying that would be on a bitter day.
Summer does not offer much relief, as the temperature rises, so do the rains, and so does the humidity, making the city a reasonably unpleasant place to live for most of the year.

As a show city, Pyongyang is graced by a few monuments and gracious official buildings.

The design of the Arc of Triumph, for instance, was basically pinched from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but slightly altered. It was built to commemorate the Great Leader and Eternal President Kim il Sung, and as befitting the President’s greatness, was built slightly bigger the original Parisian monument they copied. So grand and imposing is this wonderful edifice that it is now the world’s tallest triumphal arch.

The other major arch in Pyongyang is the Reunification Arch, which graces the start of the Reunification Highway, that leads to the DMZ, the demilitarised zone which separates North and South Korea.

As no reunification has taken place, and is unlikely to take place within the foreseeable future, the arch is a bit of a fizzer really.
Which pretty much sums up the city of Pyongyang – a pointless place where constant doom and gloom are the only high points in the relentlessly hard lives of the poor Pyongyang citizens.

1 comment to Countries that have a capital city with a weird name – North Korea

  • I have been waiting years for them to open the Ryugyong Hotel and finally it looks as though it will happen this year, in honor of Kim Il-Sung’s centennial on April 15th. Pyongyang fascinates me, I’ll bring back some fresh pictures!

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