“Be Careful of Your Words Whether You’re in an Elevator or in Your Room”

On the third day of my visit to Pyongyang, I planned to visit the Kim Il Sung statue. Without any prior notice to me, they brought a flower basket and asked me for money.

I took a photo with the guide in front of the arch. They say that they built this arch a bit higher than the one in Paris, France.

The arch is to commeorate the triumphant success of Chairman Kim Il Sung during the 1945 movement for independence, and was built on the Moranbong edge on April 14, 1982. The guide diligently explained how the arch was a 60m high, 52.5m wide, 3-story stone building, and that there was an arch-shaped one-story high door that was 27m high and 18m wide. The first and second floors created the boundary for the balcony and the second and third floors created a rooftop that can be experienced.

“Only in this way can they earn foreign currency”

[imText2]For lunch, we went to the famous “Ok Ryu Kwan,” a nengmyun (cold buckwheat noodles) place located on the edge of the Daedong River. There were many residents gathered there. Since there was no room in the restaurant, people were crouched by the doorway, awaiting their turn; most of them were smoking cigarettes.

I was told that they came by villages, and I later found out why they had to come like that. It was one of the days that the nengmyun restaurant opened. This meant that the restaurant did not do business every day of the week.

We were brought to a special room of the restaurant and were served jaengban noodles without being asked. It was so spicy that I had to eat it by blowing on the noodles so that the spiciness would diminish somewhat. One person even had another plate. He said that the noodles tasted exactly the same as that of the Ok Ryu Kwan of the past. However, since I had never tasted these noodles from the past, I could not tell the difference.

In my opinion, the Pyongyang noodles sold in Seoul was much tastier. As for the price, they charged us 10 times more than the North Koreans for the same noodles. I chose to sympathize with them, thinking, “Only in this way can they earn foreign currency.”

They say that the name Ok Ryu Kwan had existed since a long time ago. This is North Korea’s largest restaurant, built and opened in the 1960’s, located in front of the calm Daedong River. It is a place frequented at least once by foreign officials or South Korean visitors. The Daedong River was brilliantly beautiful, as I looked out on it from the restaurant’s window.

After dinner, those who were North Koreans left, saying they had some sort of debate to attend. I assumed that they were going for some sort of underground activities or propaganda education. Through a special request related to the construction of North Korean business, I met with the president of the ‘Third Company of Daesung Corporation (deep-sea fishery in Charge)’ fishing industry in the hotel conference room. My visit to Pyongyang had a purpose other than mere traveling.

During my tours of Pyongyang, I frequently expressed admiration. However, when I entered my hotel room at night, the criticisms would gush out freely.

“They brag as if they are the best, but how much did the North Korean citizens have to suffer to build those things that they are so proud of, those XXX!”

I took comfort, knowing that it was my private room in which I was criticizing and cursing. But someone warned me that I must be careful with my words, whether I am in an elevator or in my room. In this way, I spent my days busily until I left for Beijing in February.

Hordes of People Upon Lim Soo Kyung’s Visit to North Korea

[imText3]During my visit to Pyongyang, people wanted to feed us well, and so they tried their best to prepare the best foods, but the preparations were poor and even the rice, the main dish, was insufficient. We had to eat the side dishes sparingly to match the rice, and as for the kimchi, it was in name only, and we could not find anywhere the types of kimchi which we were used to.

So the day we arrived in Beijing, we wanted to find a place where we could at least eat kimchi to our hearts’ content, but during those days, Korean restaurants were hard to find in China. Only when we arrived in Hong Kong could we eat as many side dishes as we wanted to, since there were many Korean restaurants there. Because there were no direct flights to China back then, we had to circle Asia, from Pyongyang to Beijing to Hong Kong to Seoul.

That same year, when i went back to Pyongyang in June, Lim Soo Kyung also came to Pyongyang. In order to participate in the 13th annual World Student Celebration, Lim Soo Kyung traveled secretly through Japan and then East Berlin, and arrived in Pyongyang Sunan International Airport on June 30, 1989 without either of the North or South Korean governments’ knowledge.

Upon hearing this news, hordes of North Korean citizens gathered at the airport to welcome Lim Soo Kyung. On a bright sunny day, after a brief shower, the roads surrounding Koryo Hotel were so busy that traffic regulations had to be put in place.

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