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North Korea: Kim Jong Un's People and How They Get to Party

North Korea may not be everyone's idea of a party paradise, but it does have its moments

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:August 7, 2017, 12:34 PM IST
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North Korea: Kim Jong Un's People and How They Get to Party
Petrol clams being prepared in North Korea (Image courtesy: AFP Relaxnews)
Take several dozen North Korean clams. Arrange vent-down on concrete slab. Douse liberally with petrol. Ignite. Add fuel until cooked. It is a simple recipe, but one that avoids the need for electricity or a piped gas supply in the isolated, energy-poor country. The "petrol clams" are fleshy and flavorful -- the secret to avoiding a hydrocarbon taste is not to inhale while slipping them into the mouth -- and a specialty of the West Sea Barrage beach at Nampho, southwest of Pyongyang.

The sandy beach lies at the far end of the eight-kilometer barrier across the Taedong river mouth -- ostensibly built for flood control, but which also blocks access to Pyongyang, a few dozen kilometers upriver, for any invading navy.

At the beach, children equipped with pastel inflatable rings play in the shallows, while adults shelter from the sun under tents to enjoy clams and grilled pork, liberally washed down with soju, a Korean alcoholic drink. Most visitors to such seaside spots are on organized outings -- strict controls on movement and a dearth of disposable income put trips like this beyond the reach of the vast majority of North Koreans.

Many making their way to Nampho are work groups -- North Koreans are often expected to socialize with their colleagues -- and some are equipped with portable karaoke machines. The hugely popular North Korean song "Mother's birthday" blasted out from one -- the parent in this case being the ruling party. "My mother - our mother - is the most tender in the world," the lyrics go. "Workers' Party of Korea - mother's birthday."
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