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Kim Jong Il’s Love for Mercedes

Pyongyang through the Eyes of a Russian (2): Empty Roads
2007-03-08 14:35
Artemii Lebedev, a Russian web designer who visited North Korean on May 2006, has posted his collection of photos from inside North Korea on his website.

Lebedev, while a foreign tourist who could not travel freely within the country, says he could peer into the condition of North Korea from the views of the open scenary of Pyongyang. He was particularly surprised by the traffic in North Korea.

Almost no cars ran on the streets. People walked or used public transportations to their destinations. Sometimes they even used seemingly homemade contraptions.

Cars never stopped in front of the pedestrians, and were often seen blasting their horns. The old cars were fuming an incredible amount of emission.

However, he could often see Japanese and German cars on the streets. Lebedev speculated that the North Koreans in leadership positions especially seemed to prefer the German Mercedes-Benz cars.

He explained that Mercedes was Kim Jong Il’s favorite car, and ridiculed the everyday lives of North Korean citizens that compares to the nation’s leaders’ extravagant lifestyles. He also added that Kim Il Sung’s car, Mercedes-Benz SEL 500, was exhibited in the Mansoosan Memorial Palace where Kim Il Sung’s body is laid in state.

North Korea’s subway entrance was shabby, but he remarked that the insides were decorated more brilliantly than those of Russia. Lebedev said he could easily find the statements such as “Hail to the Sun of the 21st century, General Kim Jong Il” even inside the subway.

Street of Pyongyang. Aside from a truck, it is empty.

Most of the patrol cars in North Korea are Mercedes-Benz. The used cars that have been used by the authorities of the North Korean Worker’s Party for more than years are turned over to the Social Security Agency to be used as patrol cars.

People are waiting for the bus. There are few means of transportation aside from the bus, so citizens of Pyongyang wait for the bus despite the long waiting time.

The cars that cruise around Pyongyang do not easily stop for pedestrians.

Even bicycles are very expensive for regular North Korean citizens.

Subway turnstile. Lebedev said that Asians have smaller body physique, and the turnstile is made lower; it goes up to about his knee.

A Pyongyang citizen reads newspaper inside the subway station.

Going down the escalator to ride the subway. Pyongyang subways are renowned for being the deepest subway in the world; it runs more than 100 meters underground. It takes more than five minutes to go down the subway using the escalator.

Lebedev explained that the North Korean subway stations are decorated more splendidly than those of Moscow.

The portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are hung even inside the subway. The doors must be manually opened, but are closed automatically.



Miscellaneous road signs of North Korea.
 
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