The Indispensable Guide for Your Next Trip to North Korea

A new guidebook to the architecture and culture of the North Korean capital comes in two handy volumes -- censored and illicit. Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan has the details.

You may chuckle at the suggestion, but a visit to Pyongyang, which is "probably the world's best-preserved open-air museum of socialist architecture," may be entirely warranted. If you decide to plan a visit, you'll definitely need a copy of Pyongyang Architectural and Cultural Guide, which was released this spring by DOM Publishing and edited by its founder, Philipp Meuser, "a Berlin-based architect who's worked in locales as far flung as Kazakhstan, Sarajevo and Bosnia/Herzegovina and India."

The book is divided into objective content (images, maps, state-mandated information) and subjective content (commentary, criticism, non-state-mandated information) in two distinct volumes, which should help you navigate past the prying eyes of customs officials.

According to Campbell-Dollaghan, "many of the buildings in Meuser's guide are little known to foreigners not familiar with the country. The book frames the buildings around Kim Il-sung's concept of Juche, a mantra of self-reliance and autonomy that he invented in the 1950s. Meuser also examines the city on an urban scale, concluding that 'the fathers of modern architecture would have approved of Pyongyang.'" 

Full Story: A Guide To North Korea’s Eerie Architectural Propaganda


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