Unusual vehicles
in North Korea

The aesthetics of North Korea can seem kitsch to outsiders – here are three of our favourite retro ways of getting around the DPRK

Stairway to heaven (2008)

This wonderful Air Koryo set of mobile flight steps is sadly nowhere to be seen since the modernisation of Sunan Airport. We loved the mustard yellow finish with a retro futuristic chrome trim.

Pyongyang golf cart (2003)

The caddy and clubs were all part of the package at the Pyongyang Golf Club, but the golf cart was an extra fee for those not used to walking the course in the footsteps ofthe common man or comrade. The story of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il scoring a hole-in-one on every hole on the course is anecdotal – a western journalist who visited the country in 1994 was told by his caddy that he had witnessed Kim Jong Il score five holes-in-one in a single game; this morphed into 11 when the rumour became popular in the west – for once this is the west exaggerating a story.

Volvo (1993)

When we first started taking tours to North Korea in 1993 the Volvo was the most ubiquitous car. Because of it’s age, it is now a rarity on the streets of Pyongyang.

The story of Sweden’s venture into exchanges with DPRK trade was in fact rather fraught, with all sorts of machinery reportedly not fully paid for, including a whole fleet of Volvos.

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