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AP Photos: Beating heat on Pyongyang's Moran Hill

  • Article by: ERIC TALMADGE
  • Associated Press
  • July 31, 2014 - 6:40 AM

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Along with its towering monuments to socialism, bronze statues of its leaders and sprawling plazas for mass political gatherings and military parades, North Korea's showcase capital is a city of parks.

To be sure, daily life in Pyongyang is filled with the many duties of work, school and mandatory community service. But even in Pyongyang, people need a place to relax and unwind.

With the heat and humidity of the Pyongyang summer now setting in, one of the most popular is Moranbong — Moran Hill — just a short walk from Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square and famous for its shady walking paths, vistas of the city and grassy fields.

Crowded with couples at night and families on weekends, the park on a typical summer afternoon is used by schoolchildren practicing musical instruments, retirees playing chess or sharing stories, and young artists painting landscapes. At the bottom of the hill are stalls selling popsicles, chips and cold drinks.

Like most other landmarks in Pyongyang, it does have a political side.

Moran Hill is closely associated with the history of North Korea's first president, Kim Il Sung, and his son, Kim Jong Il. An all-girl pop group that is all the rage in North Korea these days — yes, North Korea has one — even bears the district's name.

Hand-picked by North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong Un, it's called the Moranbong Band.

© 2014 Star Tribune