The Pyongyang Metro

What does the subway look like in North Korea? See pictures here.

The underground stations are ornate but dimly lit: patrons squint to read posted newspapers while patriotic music echoes faintly across the stone floor. Most of the 16 public stations (there are rumors of secret, government-use-only networks) were built in the 1970s, but the most grandiose halls – Puhoong and Yonggwang – were constructed in 1987. Mosaics and metallic reliefs extolling the virtues of North Korean workers and landscapes line the walls.

The subway cars were acquired from Germany, and despite a green and red makeover, the remnant graffiti scratched into windows and paneling belies their past lives. And as with every other public and private space throughout the country, portraits of past leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il look down from the ends of each car, smiling and ever-present.

It would be interesting to hear more about the number of people who use this system and what parts of the city are served. In theory, shouldn’t more socialistic/totalitarian states have better mass transit systems? Countries that emphasize individualism and consumerism, like the United States, might be more open to transportation options, like cars, that support or enable these values. But, countries that have more communal or equality rhetoric could pour more resources into methods that would help move great numbers of people efficiently.