Pyongyang’s Fine Dept. Store, Rakwon

A source from inside North Korea has offered an insight into the lives of the rich and powerful Pyongyang elite thanks to some rare pictures of the Rakwon Department Store.

Rakwon Department Store, which can be found on Changgwang Street in the capital’s central district, is operated by Daesung Corporation, part of the powerful No.39 Department of the Chosun Workers’ Party. Lying in an area near Changgwangwon, Air Koryo HQ and the Changgwangsan Hotel, with one of the city’s nicest apartment complexes directly behind it, the store boasts state-of-the-art facilities.

On the first floor, there is a supermarket selling food and other daily requirements, while electronics and clothes are to be found on the second floor.

On the third floor, there is a restaurant with a separate exit to the street which boasts an advanced microbrewery imported from Germany to produce various draft beers.

The restaurant has a main area with twelve tables and a further fifteen rooms. Each room houses a 30” wall-mounted TV and karaoke facilities used by Party officials and their families. The restaurant is known to be among the best in the city, comparable with Roksanwon, which is run by the People’s Security Ministry.

The restaurant’s draft beers are particularly popular with the rich, and other restaurants in the city are now also seeking to import similar facilities, the source told The Daily NK.

As the pictures show, all restaurant prices are denominated in Euro.

There is also a sauna in the basement, the source said. Inside the sauna, there is both a swimming pool and family bathing area. As it happens, there is another popular swimming pool, Changgwangwon, right next door, but The Daily NK’s source explained which is better, saying, “Changgwangwon is for middle-class Pyongyang residents, but they really envy those Party officials and the privileged few who can go to Rakwon Department Store.”

A $30,000 grand piano was sold by Rakwon Department Store even during the currency reform period, causing a sensation among Pyongyang insiders, he added.