Wandering Camera

North Korea: Pyongyang - Palace of Pioneers and Schoolchildren.
(Translated b
y Ilya)


Our next subject is a Palace of Pioneers and Schoolchildren.

If I am not mistaken, there are two of them in Pyongyang. This one (located in the Mangende district), however, is the largest.


The building occupies about three thousand square meters. The hall is designed to hold two thousand people. Plus there is an inner stadium, a pool, and various areas for interest groups.
We were taken there with other tourists to watch a children's concert. Although I am not very fond of such things, it turned out to be a pleasure to view.

The various musical numbers (both solo and chorus) were each very different, and performed with great exactitude.

I recorded about a minute of video (500kb). You can view it using Quicktime or another .3pg player. The image quality is low, but it has sound.

Next there are a few shots of the palace interior.

In the background is a photo of Kim Jong Il.

Regarding the Korean language:

I used to think that Chinese, Japanese and Korean were all hieroglyphic scripts. But it turns out that it's not the case at all with the latter. The Korean language is regular in its structure, like Russian or English. It has an alphabet with 24 letters. However, when they are written, they are composed into groups (each group sounds out a syllable). Thus, outwardly, it may look like hieroglyphics. For example, this sign has the name of a city: "Pyongyang." A circle (stretched or not doesn't matter) is similar in its sound to an "N". It is silent at the beginning of the second syllable (according to some rule).

There is an important difference between the North Korean and South Korean languages. In South Korean one may often encounter introduced Chinese characters. This became absent from North Korean. Beginning in the late 1940's such borrowed words were slowly replaced with native ones. It is said that a few Chinese hieroglyphic words remain, but I did not encounter them once, on billboards or in newspapers.

Usually groups of letters are written horizontally from left to right. However, a vertical arrangement (from top to bottom, as in the old times in Russia) is also allowed, and is found on monuments and some posters.

It is a separate issue when they write in script or use some kind of exquisite font. There you can't even tell right away which letters are being written :)

(I'd like to call attention to the interesting light fixtures in this shot.)

I remembered this along the way... Koreans are excellent singers, i.e. many of the people, not just artists.

For example, both our ladies sang karaoke, and in the park I observed how folks were gathering to sing, while at one of the restaurants the waitresses got on stage (all of them, not just a select few) after serving and began singing while playing musical instruments. And they sang really well too.

National folk music or something like pop with folksy motifs is performed. The melodies to some songs are reminiscent of Russian ones.

What else is there to tell...
The young women (now that they've been mentioned :) in Korea look nice. They are usually embarrassed if they see that they're being looked at. A few times they could be observed hiding their faces with a newspaper or a book (particularly from Europeans. I suspect that this [behavior] may hold some sort of ancient roots.)

They consider it their responsibility to 1). Let a man go first. 2). Open and close doors for him (of a car, a room and so on). 3). Carry the bags. 4). Pour a man wine, beer or beverages, and make sure that the glass stays full.

The first three points were overcome within a couple days, but there wasn't a chance with the fourth :)

Also, as I discovered, kissing is altogether not customary. No! I didn't check :-)

All citizens of the DPRK wear small pins with a picture of Kim Il Song on their chest (on the left side).

This is mandatory. The exceptions seem to be waitresses, performers, and a few others.

There are several different pins. According to some unconfirmed observations they are related to status, i.e. a Komsomol [young workers' organization member] and a Party worker should in principle wear different pins.

The loss of a pin may result in serious consequences.

The palace was opened in 1989.

Note that the date is written backwards (year-month-date).

On the square in front of the building you can see the buses that brought the tourists.

Very many Europeans were attending the concert (At least with respect to other places. In any case they comprised less than a third of the audience:)
There were also, as usual, Chinese and Japanese tourists, Korean bureaucrats (perhaps) and Pioneers [members of youth organization].

Judging by the lively exchanges following the concert, it was very well enjoyed by most.

Particular traits of this building call up the library building on Moscow Avenue in St.Petersburg/Russia, across from the Park Pobedy [Victory Park] metro station (built from the 1980s through the 1990's :)
Before I forget, I would like to formulate what seems interesting about the architecture of Pyongyang.

It seems to me that up to the middle of the 1980's the development of architectural ideas paralleled the course of that in the USSR. However, when Perestroika happened in the USSR, the progression of architectural style, that was starting to develop in Russia, stalled. We just shifted towards copying European and American buildings (economical and functional, nothing more), or the erection of lone buildings, not coordinated with their environment and surrounding structures.

But in Pyongyang the development continued in the late 1980's and in the 1990's (right now, it seemed to me, large projects were frozen)

In addition, there are large numbers of modern buildings here whose architecture was clearly influenced by national traditions (see following albums).

In the next album we will continue our tour of the monuments and buildings in Pyongyang.



Share this page via:
Опубликовать ссылку на эту страницу в Facebook Опубликовать ссылку на эту страницу ВКонтакте Записать в LiveJournal