Pyongyang, North Korea

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The capital of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, Pyongyang, is reputedly the oldest city in Korea. However, there is very little to see from the city’s historic past. Pyongyang was rebuilt after the Korean War (1950–53) with wide boulevards, parks and many large Stalinist-style monuments, most commemorating Kim Il Sung. Although more than 2 m. people live in Pyongyang, the visitor is struck by how empty and quiet the city is. There are very few cars, and even relatively few bicycles, no street traders, no bustling shops and no crowds. An eerie tidiness, maintained by armies of women with brooms, reinforces that impression that much of Pyongyang is deserted.


The site of Pyongyang has been inhabited for at least 4,000 years. According to legend, Tangun (the first Korean king, who may not have existed) had his capital in the region of modern Pyongyang. The city’s recorded history can only be traced to 108 BC when a Chinese trading post was established near...

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