Pyongyang Metro – an underground museum in DPRK

Visiting Pyongyang Metro is an important part of the guided tour. As with many other communist socialist countries I have visited, Pyongyang too has an elaborately artful metro, something the country is both proud and protective about.

Underground metro in many communist countries were used as bomb shelters and therefore still can’t be photographed. In Pyongyang however, it serves as an important tourist spot.

The Pyongyang Metro is the deepest metro system in the world at 110 metres and it doubles as a nuclear bunker. It takes almost four minutes to reach the train platforms and the hallways have been built with thick steel blast doors.

Once inside, mosaic art depicting ideologies of “socialist realism” adorn its walls and hallways. The common man is the hero, and images of him contributing to building the Utopian state through industry and labour can be seen on wall murals. The smiling pictures of the great leaders are omnipresent.

Hand-me-down subway cars from Berlin were bought by North Korea back in 1999. There are newer trains built in the DPRK – thanks to the country’s belief in Juche, and my guides were excited to share the news with us that we will be riding them. I, of course, was waiting to ride the old Berliner.

A photo journey of my trip to one of the most lavish underground stations is as below.

No country for mad men – the longest 4-min ride down to the train station had no ads on either side of the escalator
Ornate chandeliers and lighted arches adorn the station
Subway walls which would otherwise have ad posters are canvasses for mosaic artwork
The architecture of the marble columns appear to be like victory torches
Live by Juche – the new subway cars
Beautiful architecture
Berlin D-type cars were bought by DPRK in 1999
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A few school girls I met at the train stop
“Long live our wise leader General Kim Il-Sung!” – tiled mural at Kaeson Station, Cholima line
Media is state-controlled in the DPRK
The daily commuters – some office men, some school children, mothers and a few soldiers
The time I visited for during Rio Olympics in Aug 2016 and the DPRK had sent its own contingent of athletes who were widely celebrated via its dailies. The newspaper was not available in the shops and I had to make a special request to get one from my guide
The old Berliner chugging away, plying passengers night and day
Chandelier lights at Cholima line train terminus have an aura of affluence which is aimed at inspiring the working class to pursue national goals
Tourists are allowed to visit only two metro stops – one being the Puhung terminus and the other being Yonggwang Station, which is the next stop. Both stations are lavishly decorated and proudly shown to tourists


 and shown to tourists.
People of DPRK and the ever-smiling General Kim Jong-Il on the mosaic painting far back
Socialism realism murals on each wall are 80 metres long
This mural at Kaeson Station on Chollima line commemorates Korea’s independence from Japan in 1945 – nationalism is very much alive in the DPRK
Spotlessly clean and surprisingly efficient – Pyongyang Metro

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