North Korea: Holidays and National Customs
|January 1||New Year|
|February 16||Kim Il Jong birthday|
|March 8||International Women’s Day|
|April 15||Kim Il Sung’s birthday|
|May 1||Labor Day|
|15th of August||Anniversary of the Liberation|
|September 09||Independence day|
|October 10||Founding of the Labor Party|
|December 27||Constitution Day|
Source: Countryaah – North Korea Holidays
Koreans don’t like to talk to visitors about politics – you end up in the warehouse very quickly!
Great attention is paid to punctuality at business meetings.
The best travel times from a climatic point of view are the months May to September.
|Month||Average number of rainy days||Mean maximum temperatures in (°C)||Mean minimum temperatures in (°C)|
|January||07-09||at 0||-08 to -10|
|February||05-07||02-04||-06 to -8|
|December||08-10||02-04||-06 to -08|
Plants in North Korea
Much of the vegetation in North Korea is made up of mixed forests. These consist partly of oak, beech, maple and birch. In the coniferous forests above 1,100 m, mainly firs, spruces, pines and larches grow, including the native red pine, the Korean fir and the Japanese creeping pine, which is barely 1 m tall. Other trees represented in North Korea are cedars, cypresses, poplars, linden trees, willows, plane trees and the Japanese yew. There are also six species of holly and camphor trees in North Korea.
Japanese camellias, laurel family and privet grow on the beaches of North Korea. The stone root and the poisonous dogwood are also represented. Weigelyen bushes, spar bushes, rushes and bamboo grass are common in North Korea. Frequently one comes across hydrangeas, rhododendrons, lilacs, roses, violets, asters, forest poppies and peonies. The national plant of North Korea is the magnolia. They are available both as a tree and as a shrub. The beautiful flowers impressed the North Korean leader Kim Il-Jung in 1964 and the magnolia has been declared a national plant since 1991.
In April you can admire the rapeseed in its full bloom. The camphor tree is included in the cosmetics industry in the manufacture of soaps, deodorants, perfumes and detergents.
The ginkgo tree is known as a living fossil because it is the only living member of its kind and the oldest tree species. It grows up to 30 m tall and has characteristic bilobed and fan-shaped leaves. Its fruits are similar to mirabelle plums and are also edible when roasted. The active ingredients in the leaves serve, among other things, to increase memory performance, the ability to learn, they promote blood circulation and have a positive effect on balance disorders. Rare side effects are gastrointestinal complaints, headaches and allergic skin reactions. The ginkgo tree is often planted at the roadside in cities because it is very resistant to environmental influences.
Ginseng is between 50 and 80 cm tall, has whitish-yellow flowers and then shiny red fruits. The root, which is up to 15 cm long and 2 cm thick, is interesting and is used to strengthen the immune system and to increase physical and mental performance. A distinction is made between red and white ginseng. The dosage form and dose depends on the origin of the ginseng. In general, the medicine should not be used for more than three months.
The camphor tree belongs to the laurel family and reaches a size of around 50 m. Because of its secretion-dissolving, stimulating, antispasmodic and blood circulation-promoting properties, camphor is used for muscular rheumatism, respiratory diseases and heart problems. However, there are severe side effects from an overdose.
A slight poisoning with camphor results in nausea and vomiting, weak breathing and intoxicating states. Severe poisoning causes anxiety, hallucinations, and epilepsy-like cramps. The lethal dose for children is 1 g.
The dogwood grows as a 3-5 m, rarely 10 m large shrub with characteristic reddish shimmering branches and is only slightly poisonous. The blue-black, red or white fruits are not poisonous, but inedible. The roots, leaves and bark of the plant are poisonous. When consumed, nausea and vomiting can occur.
The home of the ginkgo tree is Japan and China. It can be said that most of the trees in North Korea are not indigenous. The camphor tree also originally comes from Southeast Asia and is also native to Brazil.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that KP stands for the nation of North Korea as a two-letter acronym.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Koguryo Tombs (2004)
The more than 10,000 tombs uncovered here are the only known remains of the old Koguryo Empire, whose rule extended from the 5th to the 7th centuries over the north of Korea and over northeast China.
63 of the graves have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2004. The graves are probably the resting places of the royal family and high-ranking nobles. The tombs span parts of the Pyongyang and Nampo areas. In earlier times, well-appointed barrows were built after their death and decorated with wall paintings. The tomb paintings explain the way of life and religious ideas of the time. The frescoes are evidence of a warlike people. The tomb of King Tongmyong, the story of the founder of the empire, is located in the capital Pyongyang, which has always been the political and cultural center of the country or region.
Historic sites of Kaesŏng (2013)
The city with around 340,000 residents is particularly well known in the west for the ” Kaesŏng Special Economic Zone ” operated with South Korean companies. The city is located near the border with South Korea.
In June 2013, the following 12 cultural monuments from the time of the Koryo Goryeo dynasty between 918-1392 were added to the list of UNESCO cultural heritage sites.
Five of them are part of the city wall of Kaesŏng, including the innermost Palocham Wall from the year 896, the outer wall, which was built from 1009 to 1029, and the inner wall, which was built between 1391 and 1393.
In the northeast, two kilometers outside of the city, is the complex of the Sŏnggyungwan Academy, which was used in this function from 1089, in which since 1987 the Koryo Museum about the time of the Kingdom of Goryeo is located. Several old stone monuments from various temples in the country have been built in the surrounding park.
The Manwoldae Palace was the official royal palace during the Goryeo Dynasty. However, the palace was completely destroyed in the course of the 14th century. During excavations of the ruins under the direction of the North Koreans,
valuable relics of the late Goryeo period were discovered – including 3,000 roof tiles, ceramics, metal parts and ancestral tables.
King Wang Kon’s Mausoleum
Three and a half kilometers north of the south gate, which describes the location of the old city wall, lies the grave of Wang Kong, the founder of the Goryeo dynasty. The mausoleum is a place embedded in a graceful landscape with two unobtrusive burial mounds with stone statues.
Mausoleum of King Kongmin
Eleven kilometers west of Kaesŏng is the tomb of Kongmin (1330–1374), the 31st king of the Goryeo dynasty, which is worth seeing for its size and the number of sculptures alone.
The Namdae Gate is one of the old city gates in the former city wall of Kaesŏng. It dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty.
Other old city gates were the Daedong Gate, the Podong Gate and the Zilsong Gate
The monument consists of two steel monuments commemorating the murdered Jong Mong Ju. The monument is associated with seven grave clusters.
The stone Sonjuk Bridge, which was built around the year 1216, stands near Mount Chanam. Yi Seong-gye had his adversary Chong Mong-ju murdered on this bridge in 1392.
This used to be a Confucian school for the upper classes of society
Korean Neo-Confucian Academies (2019)
The site includes nine neo-Confucian academies, called Seowon, from the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled between the 15th and 19th centuries. Teaching, worshiping the scholar, and interacting with nature were the essential functions of a seowon.
Due to their location near mountains and water sources, they were part of the cultivation of the body and mind. The buildings in the form of pavilions were intended to facilitate the connection between people and the surrounding landscape.
The Seowon testify to the adaptation of Chinese neo-Confucianism to the conditions in Korea. The Korean Neoconfucian Academies were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019
Pyongyang is one of the oldest cities in Korea, it was the metropolis of Choson and was often destroyed by the Mongols.
Since around 1955, the government has had the country’s capital expanded on a monumental scale. Classicist government buildings and public buildings reminiscent of pagodas form the background for a magnificent city that has apparently been clinically cleaned of beggars, old people and other undesirable people.
The city covers an area of approx. 2,650 km² with around 3.3 million residents.
A flagship estate with around 880 apartments was inaugurated on Mansudae Street in Pyongyang in 2009. The apartments with a living space of up to 170 m² and double-glazed windows were allocated to deserving families.
The parliament building in Pyongyang is a building from the 20th century, which, because of its size, reflects the claim to power of the rulers of the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”
Embassy building of Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden
The building is a wooden pavilion and is the first post-war pavilion in the country to be built using traditional methods. The pavilion was dedicated to the Korean symbol of happiness and contentment – the song of the magpie.
Bridge of Friendship
This approximately 940 m long bridge connects the Chinese city of Dandong across the border river Yalu with Sinuiju – the third largest city in North Korea, which was built by the Japanese colonial rulers in 1937.
Around two thirds of North Korea’s trade is carried out via this bridge. It has a road and a railroad track.
Right next to it is the old Yalu Bridge, the last third of which before North Korea was destroyed by the Americans during the Korean War and has not yet been rebuilt. She hates Duan Qiao (Broken Bridge) these days.
Nowadays it serves as a platform for Chinese tourists who can look to North Korea with the help of telescopes at the end of the bridge.
The 105-story hotel was built in the late 1980s and remained empty for a long time. But thanks to investments through the Egyptian company Orascom Telecom, the building was completed in 2012.
In return, the company received a 25-year license to operate the country’s cellular network in 2008.
Sangwon cement factory
This cement factory is located approximately 40 km from the capital. the plant currently has a capacity of around 2.5 million tons.
This flagship plant with around 13,000 employees is manufactured in an ultra-high pressure furnace, among other things, for internal use and for export – especially to China.
The work was named after a horse that is said to have run up to 400 km a day and is a symbol of progress and development for the state and party leadership.
Cultural institutions, monuments
Study Hall (20th century) This pompous hall in Pyongyang was built in the last half of the 20th century
Tower of Liberation
The Tower of Liberation is 183 m high, reminiscent of the liberation from the Japanese. The tower from 1983 is located in the capital Pyongyang
Arc de Triomphe
The arch commemorates the proclamation of the People’s Republic (20th century). The trump card lies in Pyongyang
Opera of the capital
A visit to the opera of the capital is well worth the effort
Memorial in Hoechang
Memorial to 134 of the estimated 400,000 Chinese soldiers who fell during the Korean War. A son of Mao Tsetung – Mao Anying – who died on November 25, 1950, is also lying here. The memorial is entered via a traditional Chinese gate after climbing 240 steps. It is located in the Hoechang district. The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 and ended on July 27, 1953.
in North Korea the practice of religion is tolerated only to a very limited extent and in a controlled manner.
Virtually all churches were destroyed during the Korean War. There are currently around 12,000 Christians in North Korea who are organized in the Union of Christians.
Pongso Church in Pjöngyang
The church was rebuilt and completed in 2008. The church has around 300 visitors on Sundays.
In 2009, the then chairman of the EKD, Bishop Huber, visited the church and gave a sermon there.
There are a few national parks in North Korea, but they are only accessible to foreigners through South Korean travel agencies.
Diamond Mountains (Kumgangsan)
The diamond mountains (Kumgangsan), which begin behind the border with South Korea and have a size of around 530 km², are among the most beautiful landscapes in North Korea with their highest elevation, the Piro Mountain (Birobong) (1,639 m). The name does not come from diamonds that are (were) found there, but probably from the mountain peaks that glisten like diamonds in the sun. The Hyundai Group has created a vacation paradise that is unique in North Korea. On an area of around 50 km², South Koreans can play golf in luxury hotels. Hundreds of North Koreans find work in the facility for a wage of around $ 50 a month and monitored contact with their compatriots from the south. The facility brings hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign currency to the government of North Korea.
The Paektusan has a height of 2,744 m, making it the highest mountain in North Korea. It lies on the border with China in the area of the mountain range called Changbai shan. The mountain is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.
An outbreak would not only have an impact on the region but possibly worldwide – e.g. on the climate. It is noteworthy that North Korea even brought western volcanologists into the country because of the risk of an uncontrolled eruption.
The mountain also plays an important role in Korean history. According to the official account, state founder Kim Il-Sung (1912-1994) was born on the mountain.