DPRK (North Korea):
Pyongyang Metro (Translated by
The subway in the capital deserves its own album.
The system has sixteen stations (one of which is a transfer station), but
here you will see only the two stations that we visited. Judging by some
photos taken by others that I've seen, the remaining stations are also
beautiful. Some are done in a more contemporary style.
The tunnel depth in the metro, relative to the one in
St. Pete, is rather moderate.
Two things can be seen in this shot:
1. A complete absence of advertising. (So many years
were spent getting used to the contrary that at first this felt very
2. The peculiar illumination of the escalator.
Admission of passengers is as usual
achieved through turnstiles at the top. There are two forms of payment -
by token or with a card. The card has a barcode that is scanned at the
turnstile. It seems that it is not in the Koreans' nature to try to
copy, or manually draw their own cards. Such a card system would
probably not be workable in Russia :).
This is a picture of the subway
token (same image on both sides). The two letters in the circle stand
for "earth," and the arrow symbolizes "sub."
Based on certain signs, I could tell that the Russians have taken part
in the construction. However, I did not see any train sets that are
found in our subways, even on old photographs. The rails and ties are
also laid down in a different manner.
As was later suggested to me,
the following trains (there are also others) are German.
During the time we spent in the station, the interval between trains
was about three minutes.
Picture taking is freely allowed. They
don't even ask for payment for this.
In addition, there was a young
woman at the entrance selling a book with photos of all of the stations,
but she didn't have change for a large bill, and later I didn't remember
about it ;(
A fairly characteristic position amongst
Koreans for conversing - squatting.
Kim Il-Sung is depicted in the center of
A curious observation. Despite the fact
that on the whole Koreans are very polite, especially towards
foreigners, it is not customary for them in the metro to let people get
off first; i.e. the subway car stops and the folks immediately start
getting on. Those inside, be they foreigners or not, have to battle
their way through a stream of people who are entering.
This even made
our ladies embarrassed in front of us ;)
As someone later suggested, an analogous situtation is observed in
I'll take the risk in supposing that the
relief at the front depicts construction of the Nampho sea wall (see
Note: it is currently midday (i.e., not
rush hour) By the way, there is only one day off here - Sunday.
Inside it's a regular subway car. There is only one curious detail.
Although upon arrival the doors open automatically, they have to be shut
manually (there are special handles on the doors). The order may be
opposite; I cannot recall exactly.
Two readers have commented on this
in the following way:
exact same train cars travel in Berlin to this day, but not in the
subway (U-Bahn), but as inner city 'electric rail/commuter rail' (S-Bahn).
The doors are opened manually (both from the inside, to exit, and from
the outside, to get on), but they are shut automatically. As far as I
know, this was just to save money on the opening mechanism, and it is
unnecessary to open all doors most of the time, except for during rush
hour at central stations (in Berlin there are often only two or three
people per car that ride until the last stop). In more modern trains, a
button is used to open the doors"
"The cars are indeed German and the doors work along
the same principle as the in the cars in Germany (not only on the
subway, but on all public transit, including bus), i.e. they are opened
on demand. It is enough to slightly press the lever and the automatics
open the doors. You can open them manually, but it takes a lot more
strength, tested in cars at the depot. All doors are closed
automatically. You can open the doors by pressing the lever both from
the outside and inside. This is done to save energy (unnecessary
flapping of doors that are not being used by anyone adds up to a large
sum over a year), and in order not to annoy passengers who are in
transit at the particular station."
A different station
In the metro, as well as in other places
(hotels, squares, public buildings), one can note the ability to think
of interesting lamps, and other creative forms of lighting
In addition: An
interesting site dedicated to the Pyongyang metro has been