20 Interesting Facts About Pyongyang

Situated along the banks of the Taedong River, Pyongyang, the enigmatic capital of North Korea, beckons with tales of revolution and resilience. With a population surpassing three million, it stands as a bastion of history, tracing its roots to ancient Korean kingdoms like Gojoseon and Goguryeo. Despite enduring the ravages of war, notably during the Korean War, Pyongyang emerged anew, rebuilt with Soviet aid. Today, it serves as the nexus of North Korean politics, industry, and transportation, housing key governmental bodies and hosting the revered Workers' Party of Korea. Yet, behind its imposing façade lies a city veiled in mystery, guarded by a nation notorious for its secrecy and scrutiny. Delving deeper into Pyongyang's labyrinthine streets unveils a tapestry of contrasts—a city both ancient and modern, revered and reviled, where the echoes of history intertwine with the aspirations of its enigmatic inhabitants. Let's unravel 20 intriguing facts about this captivating capital, shedding light on its secrets and unveiling its complexities.

1. Historical Significance: Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, has a rich history dating back thousands of years. It was the capital of Old Joseon and later became the de facto capital in 1948.

2. Cultural Heritage: Known for its rich cultural heritage, Pyongyang is home to numerous historical sites and landmarks, such as Kim Il-sung Square, the Arch of Triumph, and the Mansu Grand Monument.

3. Juche Ideology: The Juche Tower symbolizes the Juche ideology developed by Kim Il-sung, offering panoramic views of the city from its observation deck.

4. Mass Games: Pyongyang is famous for its spectacular Mass Games, a grand performance involving thousands of performers showcasing synchronized gymnastics, dance, and acrobatics.

5. Kim Jong-il Statue: A towering statue of the former leader, Kim Jong-il, is a prominent landmark in Pyongyang, reflecting his significant role in North Korean history.

Kim Jong-il former president of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
kremlin.ru, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

6. Science and Technology Hub: Pyongyang serves as a hub for science and technology in North Korea, hosting several research institutes and universities dedicated to advancing scientific knowledge.

7. Mansudae Art Studio: The Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang is renowned for being the largest producer of art in North Korea, creating grand statues, paintings, and other artistic works.

8. Ryugyong Hotel: The iconic Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang is known for its unique architecture and stands as a symbol of the Juche ideology emphasizing self-reliance and independence.

Ryugyong Hotel - 류경호텔 - Pyongyang - North Korea
Martin Cígler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

9. Traffic Ladies: Instead of street lights, Pyongyang has disciplined lady officers known as Traffic Ladies who manage traffic.

10. Rollerblading Culture: Rollerblading is extremely popular in Pyongyang, reflecting a unique aspect of local culture.

11. Pyongyang Metro: The Pyongyang Metro is not only one of the deepest underground train systems globally but also serves as a showcase of North Korean propaganda art and architecture.

12. Cuisine: Pyongyang is known for its unique culinary offerings, including Pyongyang raengmyŏn (cold buckwheat noodle soup) and Taedonggang sungeoguk (flathead grey mullet soup).

Naengmyeon, Korean cold noodle soup - Pyongyang
Alan Chan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

13. Urban Planning: Pyongyang features wide, tree-lined boulevards, public buildings with terraced landscaping, and a grid-like layout, giving it an orderly appearance.

14. Architectural Diversity: Structures in Pyongyang are divided into three major architectural categories: monuments, buildings with traditional Korean motifs, and high-rises.

15. Population Density: With a population of over 3 million according to the 2008 census, Pyongyang is North Korea's largest city and serves as the political, industrial, and transport center of the country.

16. Geographical Location: Situated on the Taedong River, Pyongyang is about 109 km upstream from its mouth on the Yellow Sea. Its strategic location has played a crucial role in its historical and contemporary importance.

Taedong River in Pyongyang
Lawboy25, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

17. Architectural Transformation: After the Korean War, Pyongyang underwent rapid reconstruction with assistance from the Soviet Union, featuring grand buildings and monuments in the style of Stalinist architecture.

18. Climate: Pyongyang experiences a continental monsoon climate, characterized by hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters, with distinct seasonal changes.

19. Olympic Bid: Pyongyang, along with Seoul, launched a bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics, showcasing the city's aspirations for global recognition and engagement.

20. Taedonggang Beer: Pyongyang is home to the Taedonggang Brewery, known for producing Taedonggang Beer, a popular local brew enjoyed by residents and visitors alike as a part of North Korean culinary culture.

TAEDONGGANG BEER - Pyongyang - North Korea
calflier001, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons