The Beautiful Faces Of North Korea

Mangyongdae Theatre, North Korea
The amazing folks over at the North Korea news and analysis website NK News are back with the second edition of their (hopefully annual) NK News Calendar, with pictures by award-winning photographer Eric Lafforgue. You can buy the calendar here -- and get $5 off by entering beijingcream as the coupon code.

The World’s First North Korea Travel App, Reviewed

North Korea travel app
A new North Korea travel app hit the stores today. Creator Chad O’Carroll, who runs the indispensable NK News website, told CNN that the app “is designed for armchair travelers as well as people who are actively interested in visiting.” Niche? For sure (though not as niche as targeting fans of Playboy who literally do “buy it for the articles.”) But does it have wider applications?

Team China Once Again Beats Everyone At World Table Tennis Championships

Chinese men's team wins table tennis ping pong championship
For the seventh consecutive year on Monday, the Chinese men's ping-pong team won the Swaythling Cup. (Apparently familiarity doesn't make the trophy any less awkward to handle.) It's the 19th time they've finished first at the World Table Tennis Championships, which was held this time in Tokyo. The Chinese women's team, not to be outdone, also won -- also its 19th team title at this worlds competition. The women have lost only twice since 1975.

North Korea’s Basketball Team, Called “The Torch,” Beats Dennis Rodman’s NBA Squad, And Other Weirdness

Dennis Rodman USA vs North Korea basketball
Dennis Rodman sang Happy Birthday to Kim Jong-un, who then watched as his country's basketball team beat Dennis Rodman's USA team on Wednesday in Pyongyang. That's according to Koryo Tours general manager Simon Cockerell, who reports that "the DPRK team emerged triumphant" in a 20-minute game, played as two 10-minute halves.

American Rappers Pacman And Peso Film Landmark Music Video In North Korea

Pacman and Peso in Beijing and North Korea
Pacman, Peso, and I recently returned from a 16-day Asia trip that included a five-day stay in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (as in America, the N-word is taboo in DPRK). This journey started in August when our record label, Forest Hills Tenleytown Music Group, launched a Kickstarter seeking $6,000 to fund the trip and a music video called "Escape to North Korea." With the help of a five-page feature in the Washington Post Style section and a generous $5,100 donation from James Passin (aka "The American Who Bought Mongolia”), we were able to raise $10,400 and get a lot of attention in the process. People actually cared, for some reason.

North Koreans Paint The Loveliest Pastel Posters Of Contemporary China

China as depicted by North Korean artists 1
We're a bit late to this, which is a shame, because the paintings sampled here are some really nice pieces of work by North Korean artists. As explained on the Koryo Tours blog, they were part of an exhibition called "The Beautiful Future" that, sadly, ended on October 3. (Surely they'll be brought out again sometime in the future.)

Here’s The Construction Site For North Korea’s Masik-Ryong Ski Resort

Masik ski construction featured image
Kim Jong-un, who studied in Switzerland when he was a lad, enjoys skiing, so much so that he wants to build a ski resort in his home country. (Or is it because South Korea's getting the 2018 Winter Olympics and he can't be seen as falling behind?) Kim picked out a spot, ordered the military to complete construction by the end of this year, and has reportedly made multiple on-site checks. Everything appears to be going smoothly -- except one big, huge hurdle: international sanctions.

Oi! Kim Jong Un! – How Not to Do Journalism in North Korea

John Sparks in North Korea
"Mr. Kim Jong Un! Channel 4 News, UK!” yelled the journalist at the back of Kim Jong Un’s head. The Great Marshall stopped. He slowly turned and smiled, his visage a million shining suns. The room, which had been full of raucous cheers, came to a hush. In perfect English he replied, “Yes? How may I help you?” Just kidding. That last part didn’t happen.

Arirang Festival Opens In North Korea, With A Small Twist

Arirang Festival 2013b
They don't really do it small for the annual Arirang Festival in Pyongyang, so the "small twist" in the headline is somewhat of a misnomer. Nonetheless, this year's Arirang -- a.k.a. the Mass Games -- that opened on Monday featured something new -- a slight, possibly noteworthy change for the tea leaf readers out there -- as one attendee told NK News.