The first photograph in this gallery of Kwangbok (Liberation) Street was taken in a relatively affluent area of Pyongyang to the west of the city centre. This picture is of the older residential areas to the east of the Taedong River which runs through the centre of Pyongyang. This photograph was taken from the top of the Tower of the Juche Idea.
You may notice that in the tree lined street in the top left, there are lots of people walking on the sidewalks, but very few motor vehicles. This is very typical of Pyongyang.
Although this area looks quite old, most of it would have been built since the Korean War. Pyongyang was razed to the ground in 1952 in much the same way as Hiroshima and Dresden were in WWII. Many people that I met in Pyongyang still talk with considerable bitterness about the bombing, even though most of them weren’t alive in 1952. It seems that the stories are passed down from one generation to another, and even today it is talked about as if it was quite a recent event. I sensed that the stories of the bombing of Pyongyang play a large part in the animosity that North Koreans have towards the US.
I found the following report on the bombing of Pyongyang on the Federation of American Scientists website:
“On 11 July 1952 the Air Force launched a concentrated strike on Pyongyang under the name Operation Pressure Pump. The war's largest air raid came on 29 August 1952, when FEAF and carrier planes bombed Pyongyang in a 1,403-sortie assault.
During the war, FEAF units flew 720,980 sorties and delivered 476,000 tons of ordnance. For these numbers FEAF estimated it had killed nearly 150,000 North Korean and Chinese troops and claimed the destruction of more than 975 aircraft, 800 bridges, 1,100 tanks, 800 locomotives, 9,000 railroad cars, 70,000 motor vehicles, and 80,000 buildings.
The Korean People's Army (KPA) losses in the Korean War, called the Fatherland Liberation War by North Korea, totaled more than half a million persons, although North Korea has not released figures. The war also resulted in the virtual destruction of North Korea's economy and infrastructure.”
Not all of Pyongyong is quite as depressing looking as this, as can be seen from the next photograph taken looking west from the Tower of the Juche Idea which shows more of the public buildings in the city centre.