Oversized monuments – the Party towers (giant concrete hammer, sickle, brush), the Juche Tower – a massive phallic celebration of the Juche “philosophy), and then down to the West Sea Barrage, or the Nampo Dam… a rather impressive structure damming an entire river mouth.
And finally – a shooting gallery, with the option of shooting live animals (a coop of chickens was clearly visible at the end of the gallery… waiting for somebody to sate their blood-thirst). The “kill a living being” option was NOT taken, but I did fire a few rounds from a “sniper rifle” (mixed success), an automatic rifle (AK47 or similar) (zero success), and a pistol (reasonable success) – and was then gifted a prize teddy bear by the ladies, presumably from having a near 50% success rate with the pistol. Teddy bear was proudly displayed to the bus driver, and became the group mascot, in the windshield.
Day #7 – 9.9 (Day of the Foundation of the Republic)
The big national holiday… but not the big military parades one thinks of when it comes to North Korea’s celebrations. Instead – we visited the boyhood home and birthplace of Kim Sung Il, then watched some “mass dancing” – a highly organised big crowd of people pretty much “line dancing” – and then marching off in rank-and-file, men in one direction, women in the other. Very odd.
Visited the Water Park – but with not enough time to actually get a swim in. Instead we were just shown all the local citizens obviously having so much fun… by order.
And then, an opera… and true to form, I slept through most of that.
I managed to wake up for the next stop on the agenda – a “local beer bar” – where we were supposed to be able to try a few beers elbow-to-elbow with locals. It was deserted… not a single other person in the bar.
A quick visit to the “Science Street” – which the government is clearly very proud of – a recent district dedicated to science/education. Not particularly interesting.
The War Museum – however – very good… we only got to see a fraction of it, but it was a beautiful massive complex, including…
– USS Pueblo – the US spy ship which was captured… along with a video bragging about this, and stressing the DPRK’s version of events around the whole thing. Interesting stuff.
– A collection of enemy tanks/planes/weapons captured during the Korean War… showing off
– A video explaining how the Korean War started (it doesn’t, actually, it just stresses how evil the US was, and how brave the North Koreans were in repelling the yankee imperialist aggression)
– A 360 degree mural based on one particular battle – with effects as the battle is described. Not sure I’m describing it well, but it was quite well done.
Anyway – in the afternoon… caught a flight up to Orang, on one of the only old-school Soviet-era IL-18 (I think) aircraft still in service… just happens to be the same one which was previously the “presidential plane” for the Dear Leaders.
Saw some of the eastern coastline… and stayed the night on Chongjin, ready for visiting the nearby Mount Paektu.