[Photo] Illuminated signboards light up cities across North Korea

Kang Mi Jin  |  2017-06-29 15:12
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Pyongchon Shop located on Mirae (Future) Scientists' Street in Pyongyang
has illuminated signage and menu items scrolling on an LED display. 
Image: Daily NK

Despite chronic power shortages, restaurants and stores in Pyongyang and other major cities across north Korea are beginning to illuminate their signboards at night, Daily NK has learned.

"Until only a year ago, nearly all signboards were practically invisible at night. But now more and more restaurants and stores brightly illuminating their signboards at night. Pyongyang residents and visitors are welcoming the change," a source in Pyongyang said.
"Some of the stores located in newly-built commercial zones including near the Kwangbok Department store, Changgwang store, and the stores in Ryomyong Street have even installed glow-in-the-dark signboards. The residents are saying that they previously had to go into the shops to find out what theyre selling, but this makes things easier."

In the past, the North Korean authorities were known for cracking down on such practices using a variety of superficial reasons (such as claiming that the signboards are too commercial), but the practice is now common and does not seem to be regulated. The restaurants and stores pay money to the authorities, so it is in the best interests of the regime to permit the developments.

"It appears that the Marshal (Kim Jong Un) does not care what methods are used by the residents to earn money as long as they don't threaten regime stability. The more astute merchants have jumped on the opportunity and begun to promote their shops more actively," said a second source in Pyongyang.
With the regime's tolerance of such practices, public sentiment is improving as most residents feel that the illuminated signboards are a significant improvement.

However, it is unclear whether such practices will be permitted over the long term. Some are cognizant of the fact that the North Korean authorities have often sought to prevent people from finding their own way to earn money.

Both sources noted that the residents who make money through private enterprise believe that they have built their own lives without support from the government, and predict that loyalty to the regime will continue to decline, although the authorities will continue to hinder progress.  

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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