Rare photos of North Korean capital's subway system


#1

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#2

On a similar note North Korean soju (Korean “moonshine”) has made its way into American markets.

The special ingredient is the bitter tears of the forced laborers at the distillery.


#3

I was surprised to see that their underground internet includes the kim jong un looking at things tumblr…


#4

I always like seeing the overly affectionate treatment of communist leaders, although I’ve never actually been to North Korea. This is at the entrance to the Museum to Commemorate the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea just across the border in Dandong, China. I thought they hadn’t noticed.:blush:

Incidentally, there is some colourful language describing less popular people here, in the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes in Ho Chi Minh City (now the War Remnants Museum) and the 9-18 Museum in Shenyang (which commemorates the incident on 18 September 1931 that triggered the Sino-Japanese War).


#5

Soju! I found that quality control people at Soju distilleries must be either non-existent or too drunk to perform their duties. If the first bottle doesn’t kill/maim/en-drunken you, then the second bottle might. Or might not. By the third, mayhem should be well in hand. Or maybe not. Sometimes the first half of the first bottle was enough for two, and sometimes it tasted like they’d simply filled the bottle with poor-tasting water and called it a day.

But when the mayhem came, it was good, clean mayhem!


#6

Soju is pretty weak as a distilled spirit (usually 50 proof or less) so its not exactly the most dangerous stuff out there. The ones made from sweet potatoes are usually the most palatable, the ones from barley are the least. I like it when I want something that works well over ice or mixed but not strong.


#7

Well done photo set and descriptions–fascinating! It’s also noticeable that almost all the North Koreans pictured are small and thin, which I would assume implies less-than-stellar food nutrition. The station was both beautiful and sad–the cult of personality is absolutely stifling.

@Mangochin, the Soju I had was in Okinawa, and I recall that it usually didn’t have a label–it was in an unlabeled plastic bottle and had more of a moonshine feeling to it than anything. That’s probably why the quality was shit.


#8

I live close to a large Korean enclave in New Jersey. Finding decently made (by professional distilleries) soju is not difficult in my neck of the woods. There is a Japanese brand which finds its way into liquor stores around New York City.


#9

Wow, even their carbonite freezers are overcrowded.


#10

It’s very common in San Francisco too, in part because it’s about the strongest stuff you can serve on a beer & wine license (a full liquor license is a lot more expensive.) More than a few places use soju for cocktails.


#11

Where are you from? Is it possible that your idea of normal weight is shaped by diet in your own country? In the West obesity from childhood on is increasingly normalised (I read about one study where most participants thought that photographs of children from the 1950s were of concentration camp victims, simply because they were not accustomed to being able to see a child’s ribs, which actually indicates healthy weight). In India, they have managed to achieve the miraculous goal of >50% childhood malnutrition followed by >50% adult obesity.

North Korea has actually had regular food shortages, partly because the North has never been as agriculturally productive as the South, so they were heavily dependent upon Soviet support as well as Chinese. Experts consider food independence to be an impossibility for the country and given that its only remaining source of imports is China, in recent history they have been subjected to the vagaries of China’s own production and interests. Additionally they seem to regularly experience extensive floods or droughts which can in extreme cases practically wipe out agricultural production. In the 1950s government policy compounded the problem by disincentivising agriculture at a time when there were already shortages, but these policies were reversed - frankly the fact that only 20% of North Korea’s area is suitable for agriculture is a statistic that no government policy will overcome.

That said, child malnutrition is known to have long-term impacts on development and North Korea experiences shortages often enough that most people will have experienced want. Also consider that the epigenetic effects of famine are only now beginning to be understood, so adults who experience famine seem to pass famine adaptations on to their children.


#12

So weird to see that Pyongyang is using the same subways as Berlin is (for pretty obvious reasons but still weird)


#13

But its much weirder than that. It’s the Dead Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung (dead, respectively, 5 and 21 years ago) looking at things.


#14

How are subways in No. Korea nicer than subways in California?


#15

They don’t have cars, so subways aren’t just for the riff-raff.


#16

Do I want to continue commuting to work in a car? Do I want that for my kids?

I would vote tomorrow for subways and trains. I would vote to tax commuter cars out of existence.

Let’s liberate ourselves from the disproportionately burdensome costs of gas, oil, insurance premiums, traffic delays, injuries, fatalities, financing, asphalt, registration fees, parking tickets, drunk driving, kids’ respiratory distress, awful ads for new models, political candidates from Texas, the Gulf Wars, and, of course, talking about cars as a cultural proxy for our imaginary, romanticized genius and/or quirky individualism.


#17

As a transit nerd this was a fascinating read. I never expected their subway system to be so opulent and beautiful.


#18

I don’t, so I don’t live out in suburbs designed so car-centrically that it’s effectively impossible to go without one. And to the extent that I exert any influence over public policy, I vote for politicians and ballot measures supporting investment in and expansion of mass transit.

(Now, when I realize my goal of living way up the woods I won’t at all mind needing to drive into town for supplies and socializing, but that’s not what I’d call “commuting.”)


#19

Moscow’s soviet-era underground system was similar (still is AFAIK). I wonder if opulent undergrounds is a commie thing?


#21

Also flat out wrong. After all, it’s Trump Tower, not Trump Trailer Park or Trump Bungalows.