Pyongyang Sports
Lottery | Pyongyang

Playing the Pyongyang Sports Lottery today and some notes on the 1920's Pyongyang Lottery.

The Pyongyang Sports Lottery

...the Lottery is an interpolation of chance into the order of the universe. - Borges in The Lottery of Babylon (1941)

This Thursday 25 April is drawing day for Pyongyang’s Sports Lottery (평양체육추첨 | 平壤體育抽籖). Here are Koryo Tours we have five tickets: No. 30874, No. 30875, No. 30878, No. 30879, and No. 30880 — each one put us back 2000 won (~0.25 USD on the local exchange rate). We picked these up a kiosk outside Kim Il Sung Stadium during the Pyongyang Marathon — the lottery is put on by the Ministry of Sport.

Each ticket has a stamp validating the ticket as genuine on the backside as well as the dates of the drawing written on it.

First prize is an air conditioning unit this time around. Second prize is a TV. There are usually other minor prizes such as stationary, gum, or small sums of money.

The tickets are void if written over or lost.

According to NK News, the history of the lottery in the DPRK goes back to the 1950s and lotteries have been held at various times. The history of lotteries in Pyongyang itself goes back to at least the early 1920s.

The Pyongyang Post and Telephone Lottery

In December 1921, there were 210 winners in the Pyongyang Post and Telephone Lottery (평양우국전화추첨 | 平壤郵局電話抽籖), of which 40 were Korean. The winners were announced on Christmas Eve and the Donga Ilbo reported all the Korean winners.

Less than a year later in September 1922 there were 232 winners with 66 Japanese, 22 Koreans, and one Chinese. The paper again announced the Korean winners.

The popularity of the lottery seems to have taken off. In January of 1923, a supplementary drawing was held for the losers of the previous September’s lottery.

Almost a century later, Pyongyang citizens are still trying their luck at the lotto.

Join Koryo Tours for the annual Pyongyang Marathon, our group tours scheduled throughout the year, or book a custom private tour for a chance to see what the Pyongyang Sports Lotto is all about*.


Simon Cockerell

Simon has been Koryo’s General Manager since 2002. He has travelled to North Korea more than 175 times and has probably been to the country more than any other Westerner. He is a respected speaker on the country and appears regularly in international media. He is also a tour specialist in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and the Russian Far East where he has personally designed and led multiple tours over the years.

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