Unveiling Pyongyang by Atira Ariffyn

by - Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Assalamualaikum. Hai!

Hari ini aku saja nak share dengan korang tentang Bandar Pyongyang, Korea Utara. Aku sering kali rasa teruja dan sifat ingin tahu agak tinggi tentang Korea Utara. Ingin tahu bagaimana budaya, bangunan, pakaian, makanan mereka dan sebagainya!

Korang dah tengok cerita The Interview? Erm, jangan percaya sangat lah cerita tu. Tu hanya parodi dan sengaja dilebih-lebihkan. Untuk hiburan, maybe yes. Untuk rujukan, tak payah lah. Yang aku tahu, ada beberapa orang yang pergi ke Korea Utara untuk dokumentasikan Korea Utara. Tapi, quite limited lah pictures and resources. But hey, boleh dapat gambaran macam mana di Pyongyang kan?

Ada seorang photographer/architect dari Malaysia, Atira Ariffyn yang dapat peluang keemasan untuk bekerja di sana selama 2 minggu. Sambil bekerja, beliau menyelami budaya Korea Utara dan mana yang boleh beliau share, beliau akan share di Instagram akaun miliknya. 

Ada beberapa yang aku share di sini sebab memang menarik perjalanan Atira di sana. Caption memang yours truly dari Atira. So, let's enjoy the view and facts shall we? :)

Instagram Atira Ariffyn (please click to see her feed)

Pyongyang's view from the top of Junche Tower

atiraariffyn Architectural symposium with the North Korean architects, engineers and policy makers at Grand People's Study House. #unveilingpyongyang

Beautiful colors. 

atiraariffyn Architects at work. I was actually impressed that most of the architects and architecture students in Pyongyang are very skilled with 3D modelling tools like Revit, 3dsmax, AutoCAD, SketchUp and V-ray as well as post-production tool like Adobe Photoshop.#unveilingpyongyang

atiraariffyn Residential blocks for the scientists on Mirae Street. As a socialist country, property ownership does not exist in North Korea. All North Koreans are assigned to their homes by the government. "The North Korean law makes it quite clear: It is illegal in North Korea to buy, sell and rent out houses. It is theoretically possible to swap houses within one jurisdiction, but it is still illegal if such an exchange is made to gain any kind of financial advantage for either side." — source: nknews.org #unveilingpyongyang. Mirae Scientists street, Pyongyang. The whole stretch is a newly developed residential sector lined with high rise apartment blocks to house North Korean scientists and engineers. #unveilingpyongyang

atiraariffyn Science and Technology Centre, Pyongyang. #unveilingpyongyang

atiraariffyn There are 28 approved haircut styles in the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea). Among the 28 are 14 styles available for selection for the North Korean women. While single unmarried ladies are allowed to keep their locks long (no longer than mid-length) and permed, married women are instructed to keep their hair short. However, most teenage girls were observed with blunt bob hair. The idea of pure ethnic identity is really strong in North Korea, therefore everyone's hair remains black and undyed. #unveilingpyongyang

atiraariffyn Mansudae Grand Monuments was actually the first place I was taken to on the very first afternoon upon arrival at Pyongyang airport. The 22m high bronze statues of the great leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il stood high against the mosaic mural illustrating a scene of Mount Pekktu, considered a sacred mountain of the North Korean revolution.

We were taken to a flower stall at the entrance. Carrying two bouquets of colourful fresh flowers, we were escorted to the grand monument to pay respect to the great leaders. The flowers were laid on the steps in front of the statues and we were asked to bow down to the statues. It felt a bit strange for me at first but I just compromized. Everywhere in Pyongyang are monuments, statues and large portraits of the supreme leaders where everyone are expected to bow to. #unveilingpyongyang

Yonggwang Station constructed in 1987.

atiraariffyn After being completely destroyed and turned to dusts by the US bombing during the Korean war, Pyongyang rebuilt itself from scratch starting from 1953 under the leadership of Kim Il Sung. Most of the early reconstruction of the city were heavily influenced by Stalinist Neoclassical architecture style. In the past, the DPRK government had sent a number of students to be trained as architects in Russia and some east european countries, hence the adaptation of the Stalinist style in many parts of the city.

The metro system in Pyongyang is among the deepest in the world (110m below ground level). Due to its depth, the metro stations also double as bomb shelters in case of any attacks. It took three and a half minutes to travel down the escalator from the ground level to the platform level. The moment I stepped out of the super long escalator, I felt like I was transported back to one of the Moscow underground metro stations with their beautiful chandeliers hanging on the high ceilings and richly decorated platforms.

atiraariffyn Our cool translator, Mr Pak. Being a son of a professor who teaches english at Kim Il Sung University, he was fortunate to be able to learn english at young age. He took language degree in university hence securing him a job at Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (under Ministry of Foreign Affairs) which is the organizer of the architecture program I was involved in. I asked him if he knows any english songs. He replied saying that he knows all disney songs and some American song from early 2000s.

In North Korea, the citizens are prohibited from listening to any foreign musics and films, especially those which are from the USA or South Korea. Before our departure to Pyongyang, we were strictly advised to remove all South Korean media such as films, musics, TV series, and books from our electronic gadgets. As a language student, he is among the privileged ones to be granted access to foreign films, books and music from the university library. He read all Harry Potter and Lord of The Ring books.

Songs about love or friendship or anything reflecting personal feelings that may be possessed by individuals are non-existence. Instead, everywhere in the city, you can hear perfectly orchestrated propaganda anthems that glorify the leaders, the success of the country, and songs that promote unity and the spirit of patriotism blasting from the speakers and television. After two weeks of listening to them every day every where, even I was beginning to like those songs. #unveilingpyongyang

atiraariffyn With two of my North Korean team members, Kim Ji Song and Sin Tae Il from Pyongyang University of Architecture at our proposed project site.

The three of us had been working closely together in the past week to prepare for a conceptual and schematic design proposal of an urban regeneration project on a small plot of land in the heart of Pyongyang.

In normal circumstances, tourists are prohibited from interacting with the local North Korean. There is a strict division between the foreigners and the local. Felt really blessed to have this amazing opportunity to work with these two talented guys and get to know them on a personal level. We've grown so close in the past week, eating lunch together every day, joking around, and working productively towards our design proposal which was later presented to a group of almost 50 local architects and policy makers in Pyongyang. Conversing in basic english was not a problem with them, although sometimes we need our local translator to help us to translate a more complex matter in regard to the design discussion.

Parting with them was emotional as we won't be able to contact each other after I left Pyongyang. We exchanged personal addresses but we doubt that our letters will be delivered. We joked about forming a partnership in the future. The North Korean are prohibited from communicating with the outside world except for official and diplomatic purposes (which is only accessible by a small number of people). I will definitely miss them very much!

atiraariffyn Modernist concrete architecture of Pyongyang Ice Rink built in 1981. One of my personal favourite. #unveilingpyongyang

Pyongyang ni macam negara yang jauh berbeza dengan kita, Malaysia. Bangunan dia, sistem pentadbiran, pakaian and others sangat unik. Memang langit dan bumi lah kalau bandingkan dengan Korea Selatan yang maju kedepan. Perghh. 

What do you think of Pyongyang? Any thoughts? 

By the way, terima kasih Atira Ariffyn sebab sudi berkongsi pengalaman di Pyongyang di akaun Instagramnya. Eh, bukan Pyongyang je Atira explore, banyak lagi tempat lain yang unik. Kalau korang layan feed Ig dia, confirm rasa nak pergi travel. Macam aku ni, duit takde, so, melancong dalam Instagram je lah. haha. 

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  1. I follow and enjoy her IG feeds as well :D


  2. sronoknya :) takpe, simpan impian lame lame trcapai la :)

  3. wow, menarik juga architecture dia dekat sana. culture pun memang nampak different than i thought it would be. tahu lagu disney. hahaha comel.

  4. architecture on point ! gegambar pun cantik :D

  5. Ok... Nak terjah IG dia jap ☺

  6. I am going to korea too.
    Your writing helped.

  7. Dengar nama Pyongyang ni pun dah seram. X pernah lagi terfikir nak g North Korea sbb macam2 bad impression dalam news.. Tapi your trip nampak ok je


Semoga Scha dapat BABY dengan secepat mungkin. Amin :)