•   
  •   
  •   

World Hotels of Pyongyang: New book takes readers inside North Korean capital's colorful accommodations

15:36  25 september  2020
15:36  25 september  2020 Source:   cnn.com

Creek Fire ignites fire management debate on 102 million trees killed by beetles, drought

  Creek Fire ignites fire management debate on 102 million trees killed by beetles, drought Bark beetles and drought together left 2,000 tons of dead trees per acre in the Creek Fire, but land managers debate whether logging is the answer.But the stage had long been set for the megablaze, one of a half-dozen transforming millions of acres of Golden State landscapes to ash. Droughts supercharged by climate change dried out vegetation, aiding its transition into fuel. And as observers ranging from foresters to Californians living in the wildland urban interface predicted, the state's zealous, century-long fight to suppress fires meant this flammable concoction grew to unstable levels.

For many travelers, spending a lot of time in a hotel means you haven't properly gone out and enjoyed a destination.

a large clock tower towering over the city at night: www.nicolereed.photography © Nicole Reed www.nicolereed.photography

But in North Korea, the opposite is true.

For James Scullin, who has visited the Hermit Kingdom eight times, hotels were the highlight of the trip -- and one of the only ways to get to know locals in a social setting.

That's the premise of his new self-published book "Hotels of Pyongyang," with text by Scullin and photographs by Nicole Reed.

South Korea Says North Korea Killed its Citizen, Burned Body

  South Korea Says North Korea Killed its Citizen, Burned Body A South Korean government employee who went missing near a heavily patrolled nautical border was fatally shot by North Korean military personnel, the first such killing of a civilian in about a decade. © Bloomberg South Korean Marine Corps soldiers patrol Guridong beach on Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, on Friday, June 26, 2020. On the sleepy island of Yeonpyeong, the threat of conflict is constant with North Korean coastal howitzers just 11 kilometers (7 miles) away and propaganda banners visible through binoculars.

"So much of the world is globalized now. There are so few places you can go to that have a bespoke culture and look and feel," Scullin says.

After moving from China back to his native Melbourne, he connected with Reed, who focuses on portraiture and architecture photography. The two spent five days together in Pyongyang photographing hotels and the people who work in them.

This pool is at the Koryo, Pyongyang's second-largest hotel. © Nicole Reed This pool is at the Koryo, Pyongyang's second-largest hotel.

"Visual deceit"

North Korea has so many interesting buildings and structures to take pictures of that one question looms -- why hotels?

Scullin first visited the country as part of an approved tour group, then volunteered to start leading trips for the company himself. As he got more familiar with the layout of Pyongyang, he'd notice other hotels that he hadn't stayed in before and would ask his guides if it was okay to visit them.

Seoul: North Korea's Kim apologizes over shooting death

  Seoul: North Korea's Kim apologizes over shooting death SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has apologized over the killing of a South Korea official. South Korea’s presidential office said Friday that Kim conveyed an apology in a message to South Korea. It cited Kim as calling the incident “unexpected” and “unfortunate.” It’s extremely unusual for a North Korean leader to apologize to rival South Korea on any issue. On Thursday, South Korea accused North Korea of fatally shooting one of its public servants who was likely trying to defect and burning his body after finding him on a floating object in North Korean waters earlier this week.

a room with blue light: Karaoke is big business in Pyongyang, and the karaoke room at the Sosan Hotel reportedly has the widest English-language selection. © Nicole Reed Karaoke is big business in Pyongyang, and the karaoke room at the Sosan Hotel reportedly has the widest English-language selection.

"You go to the same places all the time -- you go to the same museums, monuments, metro stations," Scullin says. As all tourism to North Korea is tightly controlled by the government, travelers generally stick to places like the DMZ and Kim Il Sung Square.

Hotels provided one of the only safe ways for a foreign visitor to get some variety without going somewhere on the danger list.

"I wanted to personally explore these hotels, but also document these hotels in Pyongyang that service international travelers," he explains.

"It's ironic that a country that is so isolationist would have such a bevy of hotels. I think that juxtaposition really started the idea (of the book). Hotels are the North Korea they want to show to foreigners. What does an isolationist country want people to come away with by visiting? It's visual deceit, in a way."

Kim Jong Un issues rare apology to South Korea over death of official

  Kim Jong Un issues rare apology to South Korea over death of official "Kim Jong Un asked to convey the message that he is very sorry" a letter to South Korea's presidential Blue House said. It was sent by the Unification Division, the North Korean body in charge of relations with its southern neighbor.It is extremely unusual for a North Korean leader to apologize on any issue.But it came after South Korea's Defense Ministry said Thursday that the North had shot and burned the body of a South Korean official who disappeared from a government boat earlier in the week.

Pools? Yes. Room service? No.

Reed noticed one thing quickly when she got to Pyongyang -- her drink of choice.

"Coffee was a big thing for me," she says. "We couldn't get coffee anywhere but the cafes in hotels. So those were a highlight."

But these cafes also ended up becoming some of Reed's favorite places for more reasons than the availability of caffeine.

She was keen to photograph some of the people who worked in the hotels, and doing so often required negotiation with hotel managers or other executives. During the down time, she and Scullin were able to just chit chat with the North Korean workers and get to know them casually, just as people do with new friends in coffee shops all over the world.

The hotels had a mix of amenities. Bars, karaoke rooms and pools were nearly everywhere, but there was no room service or Wi-Fi. The Koryo, which both Scullin and Reed cited as a personal favorite, has a revolving restaurant on the top floor.

Scullin compares the interior design of many of the hotels to Wes Anderson movies -- bright primary colors, color blocking and symmetry. Each hotel also has its own insignia. For tourists who are used to hotel logos, that may not seem noteworthy. However, North Korea is generally free of branding -- there are no advertisements, no TV commercials and no billboards.

Halle Berry's secret boyfriend revealed, plus more celeb love news

  Halle Berry's secret boyfriend revealed, plus more celeb love news Christina and Ant Anstead are separating, Kim Kardashian's considering divorcing Kanye, plus more of the week's biggest celeb love life updates.

These otherwise innocuous insignias help each hotel to stand apart, but they also belie an imagination just below the seemingly uniform surface.

And despite the fact that all hotels in the country are state-owned, each has different management and was designed by different people, thus providing a rare creative outlet.

"Creativity exists under any circumstance," he says. "The hotels are, in essence, an excuse for someone to let those ideas out."

There were some things, though, that the cameras couldn't capture. Scullin says that a major contributor to the overall "vibe" of the country was the omnipresent North Korean revolutionary songs, which were always playing in the background at hotels.

Learning to let go

Normally, Reed explains, when she's on a photo shoot she works by "tethering" her camera to her laptop, allowing her to see and adjust images in real time. But she didn't want to bring her laptop with her to North Korea, so she traveled with only her most basic equipment.

Though she only spent five days in the country, she feels that her trip was more meaningful than usual because she didn't spend hours of her day on her computer or using social media.

"I didn't know how I was going to be able to cope without my phone but after about half a day of not having that technology, I just loved it," she says. "I took so much more notice of my surroundings and the people I was with. It allows you to have a lot more time in the space."

South suggests unprecedented joint probe with North Korea into official's death

  South suggests unprecedented joint probe with North Korea into official's death "We have decided to make the request to North Korea to conduct additional investigations and also request for a joint-investigation," South Korea said.As public and political outrage grew in the South, the country's presidential office said in a statement that there were discrepancies in accounts of the incident and called for further inquiries.

Scullin agrees, and he has seen the way that people on the group trips he organized had a deeper experience without their omnipresent phones. It also encourages more conversations, since people aren't glued to Twitter or Instagram.

"You need to find opportunities to mingle," he says to would-be visitors to Pyongyang. "If you have a good relationship with guides and ask 'can we go for a walk tonight?' they will call their boss and ask if they're allowed to take you somewhere."

Both Scullin and Reed say that some of their most fascinating experiences were simple ones, like watching North Korean locals shop in a grocery store, sing in a karaoke room or visit a spa.

Yet it was in hotels where the most meaningful interpersonal interactions took place.

"There are places that locals go to but that foreigners aren't allowed, so you hang out at the hotel. A lot of people see that as entrapment, but for me it's great because it's where you can hang out with the guides," says Scullin.

"As long as you don't talk about Kim Jong Un or missile programs, you can have really interesting conversations. That's what is really appealing to me about spending time in those hotels. Those guides have a lot to share about the country if you can talk about it in a respectful way."

South Korea’s Moon calls for return of inter-Korean army hotlines .
Moon says hotline to Pyongyang could prevent unexpected incidents like recent shooting of South Korean official.Restoring hotlines would facilitate communications and future rescue operations, Moon told a meeting with senior secretaries on Monday, as both sides continued searching for the man’s body.

usr: 0
This is interesting!