Experts say that you never really know a country until you go on the public transport. And it’s true, I mean, what is Rome without a picturesque metro ride? Those who know it are probably nodding along with this sentence 🙂
So Stanito, as faithful as she is with properly going around, joined the pack and went to explore the Soviet-inspired metro of Pyongyang in North Korea. Whichever you name it, doesn’t matter, because it will still be like nothing you have seen before. It’s important to notice that in North Korea commuting and public transportation play a major role in public life, even though there are very few restaurants, far fewer cars than anywhere else and probably even less public gatherings. So the public movement caught my attention as the purpose for such movement remains unclear…
Our guide said “Guys, we get to ride the metro for 5 stations!” I was thrilled 🙂 just the entrance to the station was austere enough: this is Puhŭng station, and to be honest I didn’t expect to see this many people in the afternoon.
Rumor has it it was all staged in the station we got in to impress the outside observers plus the speculation of the existence of concealed Government-only trains and tunnels manufactured by a Chinese company, but then again, you keep hearing the same story through out the entire country and every single place you visit.
The one detail I kept hearing is that the metro receives an average of 400,000 and 700,000 riders everyday and that foreign visitors are only allowed to visit a very small fraction of a much larger underground system which resembles the soviet style as in a very functional system, deep underground serving as shelters in case of bombings
Open in 1973, inaugurated in 1978, finished in 1985, this is one of the deepest metro systems in the world, goes down for about 110 meters. We started our journey at Puhŭng (부흥), which means “Revitalization” and here is where we started our metro tour.
I asked our guide for a one-way ticket price, and a ride costs less than a cent of Euro. I can’t remember seeing any money nor ticket now that I think about it…
The station is absolutely beautiful, old 1940’s style, dim lights, beautiful glowing ornaments. Walls decorated everywhere with beautiful landscapes and socialist art depicting glorious moments of the North Korean fighters, industrial workers, women.
Puhŭn station is filled with socialist art, paintings and mosaics telling the North Korean fighters and the landscapes that glorify their victories. All accompanied by patriotic music and newspapers
Unlike many other metro systems around the world, the metro stations in Pyongyang are not named according to the location of each station but instead they’re named after themes of the North Korean revolutions, like Arch of Triumph Station or Reunification.
Here is a map of the metro, depicting its two line system by a light-up follow-up in red and green like the metro in Beijing and Shanghai.
Or a more legible version of it:
Like most people we encountered in Pyongyang, the commuters didn’t exchange words with us or barely a look (reason why people believe it is all staged)
The train cars are green and reds themselves are green and red. They are relics coming directly from Berlin, in fact you can notice the graffiti on the glass that re-evoke their past origins
Passengers normally ignored us…
Except for this friendly man…
… And this cheerful little girl
For more “Official” information on the metro, please click on the official website of DPRK: http://www.pyongyang-metro.com