Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Freeway/Highway in North Korea

No, this is NOT North Korea. Hello Los Angeles.
Having lived in Los Angeles, above picture is about the only thing that comes to mind (I lived rather close to the 405-101 freeway intersection, known for the worst traffic jam in the nation). I am actually quite glad that I wasn't present in LA during the recent KARMAGEDDON. So if you live in an area where you just don't drive for the sake of sanity on Friday afternoons (if you live in a big city, you'd know what I mean), you might almost envy North Korea for rather creepy reasons. Pictures below.

First of all, North Korea doesn't have all that many cars. If you omit all the Mercedes Kim Jong-Il buys for the very few high officials and himself, and all the military tanks, all that remains is the decades-old trucks (some run by steam engine, burning wood) for the most part. North Korea actually designed and built their own car, named "Whistle".

All pictures are from, yet again, Joo Sungha's N. Korea blog. Go here if you want to see the rest of the pictures : 평양 고속도로 : 북한RT

And click on the pictures to see the larger picture.
However due to desperate fuel shortage and economic breakdown, the car is virtually nowhere to be seen in North Korea. Advertisements however, remained.

The point is, cars are very scarce in North Korea. They just can't afford it. But they did build highways, before the major economic downfall that started in 1980~1990s. And this is what they look like.
405 doesn't look like this even at 4am.
Car to people ratio -  4:1
And cows with wagons too.
Sign reads : Pyongyang 16km
Drying corns and napping on the road
"Under Construction"
As you can see, there are no lanes on the road, no guardrails, no center divider, no nothing - just an open road. The reasons seem clear enough - there are not enough cars to make those things matter. All defectors agree that all roads in North Korea, even in Pyongyang, are virtually devoid of cars.

So I guess this kind of thing is only funny in America. People wouldn't understand why this funny in North Korea.
Dinner on 405.

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