Riding on the Pyongyang Metro System is oddly a highlight from your visit to North Korea’s lively capital city. Forget the busy London tubes, the old grubby New York Subway and the soul-less Shanghai Metro, this is Pyongyang – and it has a Metro System like nowhere else on earth. Here are 10 facts I dug up on the “Pyongy Metro” , a nickname I gave it.
1. Pyongyang Metro is the deepest metro system in the world (110 metres underground).
2. Pyongyang Metro uses old East German trains, some of which still have German writing on them.
3. Pyongyang Metro has 2 lines (known as the Chollima Line and the Hyoksin Line).
4. Even our tour guides admitted they don’t use the Metro in Pyongyang.
5. The stations all have names related to North Korean stuff (like Glory, Revival, Red Star, Victory, Reunificaion etc.).
6. The station names are not really related to the part of Pyongyang they are in.
7. Each Metro station has a free toilet in it.
8. A ticket for the metro costs 5 North Korean Won, at less than one US cent this is surely the cheapest metro system in the world.
9. The Pyongyang Metro is completely underground – no stations above ground level.
10. The metro stations are all designed to act as bomb shelters if need be.
North Korea is a country that requires your visit to be a guided tour only. Once you arrive in North Korea most of the tour will be planned in advance, almost all tours will allow you to visit the Pyongyang metro but double check with your tour operator and guides.
In terms of getting a ticket for the Pyongyang Metro, you don’t use cash or credit cards. Foreigners are actually exempt, since your tour covers it. You walk through the turnstiles as normal and you are given a cardboard ticket which serves more as a memory than being an actual ticket they check. Nothing is checked.
Currently a single one way ride costs 5 North Korean Won which is less than 1 US cent.
What stations can foreigners visit?
In theory you could probably visit all of them, though it’s noted that this is not normally the case. Most tourists are accompanied on a route encompassing just two of the stations, and at a maximum of six of them. I was on the most frequent route from Revival/Revitalisation to Glory and remember there were no stops in between.
We boarded the Pyongyang Metro at Revival and exited at Glory. These stations are known locally as Puhung and Yonggwang. There are two lines and a total of 17 stations, these are:
#1 Chŏllima 천리마선 Line:
Pulgŭnbyŏl 붉은별 Red Star
Chŏnu 전우 Comrade #2 Chŏnsŭng
Kaesŏn 개선 Triumph (Arc de Triumph)
T’ŏngil 통일 Reunification
Sŭngri 승리 Victory
Ponghwa 봉화 Torch/Beacon
Yŏnggwang 영광 Glory
Puhŭng 부흥 Revival/Revitalization
#2 Hyŏksin 혁신선 Line:
Kwangbok 광복 Restoration/Independence
Kŏn’guk 건국 National Foundation
Hwanggŭmbŏl 황금벌 Golden Soil
Kŏnsŏl 건설 Construction
Hyŏksin 혁신 Innovation
Chŏnsŭng 전승 Complete Victory (in Battle) #1 Chŏnu
Samhŭng 삼흥 Three Rejuvenations
Kwangmyŏng 광명 Shine/Enlightenment (Closed in 1995)
Ragwŏn 락원 Paradise
Any truth in the rumour that it’s all a “big fake”?
I honestly don’t believe all this crap about the Pyongyang Metro being fake. People in North Korea are undoubtedly under the impression that their regime is the best in the world and that the US and the West could invade any time. So they are a proud and together nation. Everyday normal local people use the Pyongyang Metro. It’s a hell of a trick if it’s fake as it’s been going for years!!
Apart from being the deepest in the world, it is a work of art. Murals line the walls, it’s squeaky clean (as is all of Pyongyang). Every day the daily newspaper is placed in boards for the locals to read. The trains came from East Germany — Pyongy does it well.