I have many other blogs about my trip to North Korea but I hadn’t considered writing about my souvenirs until recently. Unlike a lot of popular tourist spots around the World, North Korea doesn’t have souvenir shops on every corner. Souvenirs are found mainly in Pyongyang although we did go to a few places outside of the captial city that sold them too. They’re only avaiailable to buy at tourist spots like the museums and hotels- since everywhere you go is pre arranged you cannot just wander into any shop you like the look of! There is a bookstore in Pyongyang we were taken to as part of our itinerary and I believe this pit stop is included in most tours.
So, what kind of souvenirs can you buy in North Korea? It probably wont come as a suprise that a lot of the souvenirs were books all about the leaders Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un. Some are biographies, others a list of quotes and some are speeches made by the leader. You can also purchase North Korean flags and badges as well as propaganda posters/postcards.
I thought everything was very cheap- some of the smaller books only cost a few Euros. Larger posters were around 5-10 Euros. Euros or Chinese Yuan are accepted at tourist spots in DPRK but US Dollars can also be used in some places. Check with your tour company in advance if you’re unsure.
Here’s what Josh and I bought home:
Small North Korean Flag
This one is Josh’s. He wanted to display it on his office desk and see if anyone noticed which country it was!
North Korean Newspapers
They had up to date newspapers printed in both Korean and English. I bought both the English and Korean versions. Note how they list the date in both the Juche calendar year and the Gregorian calendar year in brackets. The Juche calendar is the North Korean calendar- Juche 104 is the year 2015.
North Korea Badges
I’m not going to pin these anywhere but I just wanted them as a keepsake. One is obviously the flag and I beleive the other is The Rose of Sharon – the official flower of Korea. (Somebody correct me if I am wrong!)
I didn’t post these to anyone I just got them as souvenirs. There were many choices on offer at the Koryo Museum. They were all images from genuine propaganda posters.
If you have already seen my post, 20 Things I Noticed About North Korea, you will recognise one of the following images. You could buy hand painted posters for a reasonable price as well as cheap printed ones. It’s not something I will have hanging on my bedroom wall at home but I just find all the propaganda posters so fascinating that I had to purchase one. I love the colours and design too. I think the Koryo museum is still the best place to buy these posters.
The title translates to, ‘Two Friends Drink Mineral Water’. It’s really silly but this made us laugh so much we decided to buy it. There were other Korean movies for sale and not just animated children’s ones- there were many ‘classic’ North Korean movies too.
Socialist Constitution of the DPRK
The Constitution is an interesting read. These are the basic rules the country is run by- whether or not these are all upheld it is not clear- but I’m going to say they are not!
Kim Jong Il Aphorisms
This is basically a book of Kim Jong Il quotes.
Anecdotes of Kim Il Sung’s Life
This book could also be called, ‘A list of some of the stuff Kim Il Sung did in his life’.
The Leadership Philosophy of Kim Jong Il
This one is Josh’s and I haven’t read it all but the title pretty much explains it- Kim Jong Il’s thoughts and approach to leadership
Toiletries from the Yanggakdo Hotel
A toothbrush and shower cap I took from our room at the Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang.
Postcard sent from Pyongyang to London
I was able to buy and send a postcard from the Yanggakdo hotel and it arrived in London about 3-4 weeks later! This bridge collage design was the best of a bad bunch, trust me.
Other souvenirs we could have bought…but didn’t:
We didn’t have loads of money or space in our backpacks so we couldn’t buy everything. But some other interesting things you could buy were:
-North Korean cigarettes
-North Korean Liquor
-North Korean stamps
-CD’s of North Korean music
-Documentary style DVD’s, all of which are made in North Korea of course, about various things the country is proud of.
-Pyongyang T Shirts. On the front there is a North Korean flag and it says in both Korean and English, ‘See you in Pyongyang’.
Have you been to North Korea and bought anything I haven’t mentioned in this list? Let me know in the comments!