Foreign colonies in Pyongyang

1984-1985. I happened to spend a year in Pyongyang, where I (together with my then fellow students with.O.Kurbanova) was in the language internship. It was an incredibly interesting time, full of a wide variety of impressions. The article offered to your attention is a kind of "Premature memoirs", which are based primarily on the made me immediately after return, in 1985-1986., records and on my North Korean memories. In the article, I decided to stop only on one side of the North Korean life of those years – the everyday life and habits of a few foreign colony in Pyongyang.

Starting a story about a foreign colony in Pyongyang, it is probably necessary to emphasize the two main features: it was, firstly, very small and, secondly, is very isolated from the North Korean life itself.

I do not take to evaluate the number of foreigners with full accuracy, but I think that in 1984/85. In the whole country with its approximately twenty millionth population, there were hardly more than one and a half thousand foreign citizens, of which most, in addition, were the short-term visitors who came for several days or weeks. Indeed, there were about 20 embassies in Korea, for the most part with a small state of 5-7 people (with wives and children – a person of 20 in each), about a hundred foreign specialists and their families, a couple of hundred students. In addition, in the summer in the country there were 2-3 groups of tourists from the USSR (and, occasionally, from other Eastern European countries), groups of Japanese Koreans and representatives of all sorts of society ideas, as well as several small delegations and tourist groups. Western tourists in the DPRK entrance, for the rarest exceptions, then was ordered, although foreign businessmen appeared there (including those who vainly hoped to receive payments for the equipment they were in due time, at the beginning of the seventies, had negligence put in Pyongyang without prepayment). Almost the entire foreign colony focused in Pyongyang, from provincial cities only in Wansan and Hamhyn in some universities there were foreign students, and in Chhongin and Pukhin – Soviet specialists.

Most foreigners living in Korea then made up diplomats and employees of various embassies and representative offices, as well as technical experts. Embassies in Pyongyang were a bit, for most countries who had diplomatic relations with the DPRK, usually appointed ambassadors of their ambassadors in China. About 1980. In East Pyongyang, a special Embassy Quarter was built, where most embassies and representative offices were transferred. Only a few largest embassies remained on the West Bank of Tedongan, whose staff did not want to part with lodged places, including the two largest: Soviet and Chinese.

Since foreigners in Pyongyang were not enough, they were attracted to everyone, and in the outskirts of the city of directly -tasy, there was a sensation. Adults looked around, the children of a shame fled to the whole crowds, joyfully screams: "Uncle-foreigner, uncle-foreigner!", And the older children did not forget to remove the hat and, bowing, say hello. Constantly inferior to us place in the subway, in transport. Sometimes it happened inconvenient when some elderly woman suddenly despicable and, with the help of two-three neighbors on the car, literally squeezed in his place (then the Korean habit of supporting politeness with a light physical impact was still now).

In this regard, the confusion has been remembered, which occurred with one young Soviet diplomat. Once he went into a small shop at a hostel for foreigners, where the saleswoman worked – a woman of 35. At that time, she came to work with his five-year-old daughter, which, similar, first saw a living alien. However, it soon became clear that she had ever seen them before – but in the movies. Since nicked foreigners appearing in North Korean films – it is almost always insidious and evil Yankees, "American imperialists", That polite girl greeted the visitor, calling him the way the people like him were called in the films seen to her: "Hello, Uncle American imperialist bastard!" (Kor. Michzhny Achzhossi).

At the same time, Koreans avoided talking to foreigners, especially in the afternoon and in public places – it was unsafe. Our predecessors were told that many more years earlier passersby often did not even respond to questions of foreigners and sometimes one appeal to a foreigner to Korean on the street forced the last to apply to flight. By the middle of the eighties, the situation has changed somewhat, and in the evenings and in poor places Koreans could even talk to foreigners themselves. Nevertheless, when we, Soviet students (and there were 7 people then), waited for the subway train, around us on the platform immediately formed "Circle of security" — None of the Koreans approached us closer than the meter.

The movement of foreigners in the country was rigidly limited. The rules on this subject are unknown to me exactly, because they mostly treated foreigners-car owners, and cars at my disposal, of course, was not. It seems that freely, that is, without much permission, foreigners could ride on their cars within Pyongyang (from an administrative point of view The territory of the North Korean capital is very large, many suburban villages and towns are included in it), as well as on several agreed routes, in particular , Nammo, Kymgansan, Mkhhansan, Caeson. We, students, the Korean administration banned during walks to remove from the real urban feature further than 10-15 km. However, on foot, with all the wish, we could not go beyond this zone.

Generally, speaking of the then position of a foreigner in North Korea, we must not forget how cut off by it from normal Korean life. Upon return, I have repeatedly convinced that even those who seem to have some idea of ​​Korean affairs, after all, seriously underestimated the degree of this isolation. A foreigner in the DPRK did not have the right without the accompanying Korean and special permission to attend even such innocuous institutions as cinemas and most museums, he did not have access to the library, it was impossible for him to calmly talk to Korean, unless he was among the people working with foreigners and properly instructed "Competent authorities". Even on the street, a foreigner could, at most, to ask the road and, occasionally, transfer a couple of words about the weather. About any informal contacts, unofficial meetings with Koreans could not go and speech. A frank conversation with a foreigner could lead to serious trouble, and he remembered well every resident of Pyongyang.

Another side of this problem should be remembered: the majority of foreigners who were in those days in Pyongyang were citizens of those countries that the North Korean leadership considered "Ideano loved ones". These countries, however, in themselves did not very much encouraged unnecessarily close contacts between their citizens (including those abroad) and foreigners (including residents of the host country). I myself, before leaving the DPRK, filled MNGonian "Outdoor case", in which, in particular, should have written a detailed autobiography. One of the ritual compulsory phrases in the autobiography was: "Contacts with foreigners I do not support, in the correspondence is not". Of course, it was simultaneously idiocy and hypocrisy, since both in those days for the Staff student "Do not keep contact with foreigners" It was physically impossible. Nevertheless, it was a reminder that theoretically excessive communication even with citizens "Countries of the studied language" can lead to some trouble. In reality, we did not come across the problems of this kind, although some of the fellow students who visited Arab countries told almost comic stories about the inhound vigilance of local Soviet embassies.

However, the Soviet Union of the eighties was a rather liberal regime. Many foreigners who came to the DPRK arrived there from places with much fierce orders: Of the semi-Maoist China, from more or less Stalinist Romania, Albania, Vietnam, from the Polvotovskaya Kampuchei (masterpiece, not needed in need of comments). It is clear that they had to be more cautious than us, citizens of the USSR and other "Liberal" Socialist countries. Perhaps these limitations affected not so much on communicating with Koreans (he still did not allow the North Korean authorities themselves), but on the communication of foreigners among themselves, which was quite limited and tense. Even to us, Soviet students, was prohibited: a) attend foreign embassies and institutions (including the most friendly countries); b) walk around the city alone (the ban was completely ignored, which everyone knew everything perfectly); c) attend some "International" institutions, in t.C. Diplomatic club and hotel "Pothotgan"; d) have in the hands of a passport (they were handed over to the Embassy: Officially, to ensure their safety; it is realistic that none of us take advantage of the opportunity and did not run into the third country).

However, back to Foreign Pynean, the center of which was, of course, the Embassy Quarter. Located in East Pyongyan, the Embassy Quarter was built up with small mansions of modern architecture, in which diplomats usually worked and lived. As I was explained, it was connected not so much with considerations of convenience and security, how much to the fact that until the end of the seventies in Pyongyang, foreigners were not able to shoot in the city more or less comfortable apartments. Only around 1980. Special homes for foreigners have emerged in the North Korean capital, who were under constant observation of the special services and were carefully guarded (one such residential town for specialists and diplomats was located on the territory of the Embassy Quarter). The theoretically, any, no fences that separated the quarter from the city could have been going to theoretically, but in practice, Koreans were usually not solved for such a walk, so that the streets were deserted there.

The embassies were small in the states: most of them worked only a few diplomats, and in the embassy of Malta (as well as in the Office of the OOP), the entire diplomatic office in 1985 in 1985 generally consisted of only one person – the ambassador himself.

In the center of the Embassy Quarter there was a shop "Pyongyang" (famous among the Soviet colony as a store "Intourist") where foreigners are on "Green" (non-convertible) Certificates bought products and some things. There, on the first floor of the store, there was a small atelier, where they sewed clothes and shoes, as well as repair shops for foreigners or Koreans – happy certificate owners.

In a small extension to the store building there was a remarkable establishment, unofficially known as "Kimchi Bar". It is not clear why this pretty cozy cafe was called the bar and what the famous Korean cabbage here. It is in this small, no complaints, cafes, behind the plane-covered tables most often appointed to each other meetings of foreigners. Under the conversation, there was a cup of coffee with ice cream or a japanese beer jar "Asahi" with salt peanut for snack. Beer there was not bad, ice cream – so-so, but still a lot better than what was sold in street stalls and it was almost inedible. It is there that, covered with a glued table, Corotal the time constantly longing personnel of the Maltese embassy, ​​which, as I mentioned, consisted only from one person. In Malta, then the authorities had the left government, which for some reason decided not only to establish diplomatic relations with the DPRK, but also to keep the ambassador on an ongoing basis. There was absolutely nothing to do the ambassador, and he became famous for his habit of a slightly pester to foreigners. However, his margin was usually quite harmless and, as a rule, were limited to active attempts to treat them with beer or ice cream (as I understand, at the expense of the Maltese government).

Foreign specialists in Pyongyang (and in the DPRK at all) then there were a little. The era of active Soviet care has long passed. I did not know exact figures, but I think that in 1985. our specialists there were no more than 30 people (without considering their wives and children). In addition to them, there were also Germans there and several French engineers who worked on the construction of the hotel "Kore". In addition, some Soviet experts worked in other cities of the country.

An important center "Foreign Life" There was a diplomatic club, which was located near the Bridge Tedong, on the eastern shore of Tedongan. He represented himself a relatively small two-story building. On the first floor he was a restaurant and a cinema hall, in which foreign films were shown in the evenings (usually unloaded), and at the top there was a disco with a bar, billiards and conversations and cards. The club has opened in the spring of 1984 and quickly became a favorite meeting place for foreigners, including informal business meetings of diplomats. Of course, no one has doubts that the Korean special services have provided the club with all the necessary microphones, and therefore, serious conversations usually conducted in the noisy twilight of the dance hall. Waitally walked there not only diplomats, but also "Simple" Foreigners – students and specialists. Soviet students were often there, although I myself didn’t attend this institution too often: I was a unpleasant contrast between the fed life in his walls and hunger, poverty, fear that reigns beyond.

However, it was my fraud, the rest of the students, as already mentioned, went to the club almost weekly. It lasted, however, not long: in February 1985, the Soviet embassy categorically banned the club visit to all Soviet citizens who did not have diplomatic status. Rare guests were there and Chinese diplomats, but the reason here is different: they received a salary of one dollars, in the hands of the personnel of the Chinese embassy there was no. Of course, they could exchange their dollars on certificates, but it is unprofitable, so the Chinese saved Eastovo, and in institutions for foreigners almost did not appear (in addition, such visits in many cases they were simply not allowed). It was not seen in the city and employees then in Pyongyang of the Polpotovsky "Embassy of Democratic Campucci", which, apparently, was forbidden almost all.

On Saturdays, Pyongyang foreigners were collected in the Water-sports complex of Chhangvavon, whose checkout on this day sold tickets only for currency certificates. I will not describe this magnificent structure with a sauna, steam room, two pools, many shower and bathrooms, and I will only say that it enjoyed deserved love and foreigners, and the Koreans themselves. Oddly enough, but not only officials could get there, but also simple Koreans, all who buy a ticket (on Saturdays – only for certificates, and, after all, on the usual, "Wooden" Voons).

In 1985. For foreigners there were a special book department on the fifth floor of the 1st department store, shortly after that, however,. I spent a lot of time there. It was there, of course, a lot of propaganda publications in Russian and other foreign languages, but many and actually Korean books. Trading there was on "Green" (non-convertible) certificates and the choice was, by itself, incomparably better than in the usual Korean store, where only the works of Kim Il Sayna were standing, and all other editions, if reached before the admission, were bought up in a blink of an eye. They were sold there and books that were not in open sale at all: encyclopedia, richly illustrated albums and T.NS., There were even cassettes with records of Korean music in this store. However, it was usually low there: the majority of foreigners living in Pyongyan did not know the Korean language, and those few that somehow owned them, were not too interested in North Korean books.

In the seventies, foreigners in ordinary bookstores have not been sold in principle. Therefore, one of the Soviet students in those years in those years (now he is a legendary figure in korea-diplomatic circles and, quite possibly, the future of our ambassador in the south or in the north) is peculiar and decisively. He asked to display the book of interest to his book, looked at the price, and then, counting the right amount, went out of the store with a book in his hands. Often he was trying to stop, but the answer was one: "I already paid, what’s the matter?". You can condemn it, but then it was the only way to get the right edition.

The main centers of household service foreigners were hotels. Of course, the DPRK existed a tough segregation, and in hotels intended for foreigners, Koreans (except, perhaps the highest officials) could not stop. Under inturist hotels there were shops and kiosks, including books, hairdressers, laundries and other similar institutions. Only for foreigners worked the only dry cleaner at the hotel "Pyongyang".

Of course, all hotels were restaurants for foreigners. In the spring of 1985 at the hotel "Chhangvansan" A large ice cream cafeteroid has opened, a joint venture with some kind of Japanese company (of course belonging to the Japanese of Korean origin). The Japanese trained all his staff, arranged the hall in accordance with the then world design requirements, equipped with a kitchen. This establishment, indeed, was somehow not quite North Korean and in spirit. Even the waitress was worn there not ordinary in the DPRK, Kim I Sray, the prescribed hairstyle with a twist, and briefly cut the hair to the Japanese manner, without curling them (in my opinion, this hairstyle really goes to Koreanians). Moreover: the waitresses have not even mandatory icons for all Koreans with the image of the leader! There was no portrait of the Great and Wise and on the wall of this institution! How owners managed to achieve these unheard of privileges – I do not take to say, but the fact remains. We went there mostly foreigners, but occasionally looked at the representatives "Golden youth", Sonsis of officials from the streets of Chhangwan and Chollima, who dad had praised certificates. Preparing in the cafe not bad, although prices, of course, were considerable: a cup of ordinary tea with lemon cost there about the dollar.

Foreign tourists in Korea were then a bit, and almost all of them came from the Soviet Union. Soviet tourists traveled to Korea almost exclusively in the summer, from May to September, groups of 30-40 people, the duration of the trip was usually about two weeks, and the days of five of all time tourists were held by Wonsan and Kymgansan, where a major tourist center was built. I porously in the country at the same time there were 3-4 Soviet groups. In those prosperous times, this trip was available for the majority, but the trips were distributed, as they said in the USSR, "on the trade union line". Practically this meant that sometimes these vouchers appeared on some Omsk plant, while most of our koreaevedov had the opportunity to go to Korea practically. In Pyongyang itself, our tourists, like tourists from other socialist countries, lived then in the hotel "Chhangvansan" (on Changwan Avenue) and in hotels "Pyongyang" and "Habansan" (on Sonny Avenue). There, as a rule, the Soviet delegations of the low level also stopped. For very few Western tourists and high-ranking visitor, a small, but luxurious hotel was reserved "Pothotgan", next to which the low structure rushed "Ansan-Club", where citizens of capitalist countries held their leisure.

There were very peculiar rumors about this club both among the Koreans and among the Soviet colony, whose members, by the way, a visit to this institution was categorically prohibited. In the Club, the services of expensive foreign guests were not only exquisite cuisine, but also professionally compliant waitresses whom the Korean authorities were specially invited under a contract from the countries of Southeast Asia. One day, one very unpleasant Indonesian, with whom I was forced to talk quite kindly and quite a long time, began to complain that the Thai prostitutes ended the contract and they left, and their Philippine colleagues will have to come only in April, that is, after three months, so the poor thing remained only to start and smash.

In addition to Soviet tourists, there was a lot in North Korea and Japanese, more precisely, the Japanese Koreans, first of all – students and young people, representatives of all sorts of Korean unions and earthquakes, especially Chonern, the propheneyan organization of the Japanese of Korean origin. Although the official diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Pyongyan was not, the Japanese and Japanese goods in Korea were enough (in most cases, these were the Japanese of Korean origin). There were especially many students among them, including those who exist in Japan University of Korea. They are usually trained by groups, everything is in shape, neat, taut and very Japanese, very unlike in your own kind on North Koreans. The only one, perhaps, united them with Korean students is permanent construction, roll calls and calibrations, which were held even in the lobby of hotels and looked rather effectively: a group of tourists quite western species suddenly transformed into something resembling the company Soviet Army.

Immediately at the arrival of tourists, the consul necessarily warned them that Korea is not the country where you can eat everywhere and connect everywhere. In general, a foreigner with a camera in Korea constantly felt suspicious views of passersby, for which he was an obvious spy. During my first trip to Korea in the middle of the eighties, this suspicion was poured only, the biggest, in the illumination of the films, but the decade earlier was often taken by the worst turnover: watchful citizens (and most likely, simply disguised security officers) allegedly inappropriately pushing a foreigner, I knocked out the camera from his hands, which, naturally, was divided into smits, so the lesson was enough harsh. I must say that it happened not when the foreigner took off the military units or industrial giants (no one did it), but when he intended to capture the real life of Korea: slums, poorly dressed people, children on the backs of mothers. The victims first became Soviet tourists, whose outrageous protests were reacted in the embassy, ​​only by hand and mumbling something inequisitive about "specifics of the country" and "complexity of relationship". But in the end, this way was broken by an expensive mirror camera from one German and here the reaction did not make himself wait. At the initiative of the Embassy of the GDR, a number of foreign embassies and representative offices stated the Korean authorities to protest, expressing indignation by such hooligan outcomes. The protest occurred, and such cases were no longer repeated.

A few words would like to say about the life of the Soviet embassy, ​​which, however, I was already known to me more, so these notes will be very superficial. The Soviet embassy was the largest in Pyongyang and by the number of inhabitants, and in the area. It is located next to the Mansud Theater, in the very center of the North Korean capital and occupied the whole – and quite large – the quarter. Along the streets in a row lined up low gray buildings of the GKES, trading, the Embassy itself and his consular department (GKES, trading and the embassy, ​​strictly speaking, were independent institutions, but then I will generally call them all "Soviet Embassy"). At these official buildings were the Embassy town: several yellowish houses in the style of neoclassicism of the fifties of the fifties, garages, boiler room, summer outdoor pool and a large gray building of the Soviet school, in which laundry, clinic and several apartments were also placed. In the center of the Embassy Town there was a small wooden store, in appearance (yes, for some exceptions, and on the range of goods) very similar to the usual Russian rural shop of those years.

Most diplomats amounted to graduates MGIMO, more or less owned Korean. Nevertheless, qualified translators lacked. Then it was believed that in the USSR there were only three people, quite fluent in Korean language: a. Irgebayev, B.Sukhinin I ?.Minaev. Only they were able to translate high-level negotiations. A certain lack of specialists aggravated the fact that the majority of diplomats, although they owned Korean enough, did not seek to improve in the language. The fact is that the better the Korean Embassy officer knew, the more often it was removed from normal daily work, and used as a translator. This, of course, prevented purely professional growth and career promotion, and the prospect of the complete transformation into Tolmach, little pleased.

Embassy staff rarely left the limits of their close Mirka, fenced with high lattice fence. Especially related to the Embassy and other Soviet organizations themselves, but to their wives. However, they could be understood: everything around for them was so strange and unusual that even the usual long walk around the city, as I have noticed more than once, it seemed to be a very risky business. They did not know the tongue at all, could neither explain on the street, nor read the sign, nor even just find the right trolleybus, because the routes were not marked with numbers, but the names of the end items and, it means to figure them out, it was necessary to be able to read in Korean. It is not surprising that the Embassy ladies went to the city only to visit the nearby Dollar Store or Water-Sports Complex Chhangvonon (famous under an inequiable title "Banya").

Life at the embassy itself was quite monotonous. It was there, however, a good library, four times a week (on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) Soviet films were shown in the cinema hall, but these are all entertainment and limited. Outside the embassy, ​​it was also difficult to entertainly entertain: Pyongyang is not Paris, and three times in a row to listen to the same "Revolutionary opera" Could not have a tempered person. Naturally, countless "Museums of the revolutionary merit of the Grand Chief" also did not cause special interest from the Soviet colony.

Especially suffering from such a lifetime, again, women who did not work in their mass, because "Women" jobs in the Soviet institutions were little and settled there was very difficult, and to have some business wanted almost all. Some worked on a public basis, free. Stretching for the Embassy Dame served quite active amateurness and circles, but after all, their main pleasure was a thorough study of the catalogs of Hong Kong firms, through which the staff of the embassy could write out for themselves all sorts of deficiencies (cheaper than in a dollar store, and more choice).

I must say that before leaving in Korea, I heard a lot of unflattering words about attitudes towards students in our embassies abroad. I do not know how then things were in other countries, but about our embassy in the DPRK there was no such thing. At the embassy with attention treated our needs, they always went to meet, never refused to help when someone from us, Soviet students, arose difficulties. Sometimes it was even uncomfortable when the staff of the embassy or consulate sacrificed their time and spent a lot of strength to help us get out of some difficulty, in general, not so serious.

What was the financial situation in "Foreign Pyongyang"? In the monetary circulation of the DPRK at the very beginning of the 1980s, large changes occurred. Around 1982, the Korean authorities introduced a system of currency certificates (t.N."Vehva Pakkun Ton") Two types ("Green" and "Red"), and as a result, in North Korea, there are virtually three semi-independent monetary systems. At first, certificates outwardly looked almost the same as "Normal" North Korean money, differing from them only one detail – a small rectangular seal of green or red. Subsequently, in the late eighties, the external similarity with "ordinary" Certificates have lost money.

In 1984/85., "Green" Certificates were obtained, first, who returned from the border of the Koreans, with which they were issued in exchange for the non-convertible currency delivered to the treasury (Soviet rubles, GDR brands, Bulgarian Leva and T.NS.). "Green" Certificates paid salary to their diplomats and specialists of the government of those countries where in the go was the non-convertible currency. "Green" Certificates also received those foreigners that were in North Korean security: some experts, those of students who studied for the Korean scholarship, Chucheists of various species (under the last I mean activists of all foreign societies for the study of Juche ideas – – – very specific audience). By the way, the scholarship of Soviet students then amounted to 300 "Green" Won (quite a decent amount, if we consider that the Germans received 220, and the Chinese – and at all about 130 certificate ving per month). Money for students paid the embassy.

"Green" Certificates for their purchasing power exceeded "Normal" Korean money (however, the purchasing power of the latter was very close to zero). On "Green" It was possible to acquire goods in special stores, where, of course, there were no cards, but always sold meat, sausage, milk, fruit. Goods were there mostly North Korean production, but in their quality they differed sharply from those that common people could buy in the usual store on cards. V "Green" The carnots on the shop windows were not only the goods that could be seen in ordinary stores where they carried out mainly the role of scenery, but also, say, chocolate or velveteen, about the existence of which the vast majority of residents of North Korea never heard. Would in these stores for owners "Red Won" and imported goods, but little and mostly low quality. Of things valuable and, so to speak, large-format (electronics, furniture, clothing) on "Green" Almost not sold. The largest out of "Green-certificate" shops have already mentioned "Pyongyang", What was in the center of the Embassy Quarter (in those days they were called in the Soviet colony "Intourist"). Kiosks where they traded on "Green" Certificates were in every inturist hotel, in a diplomatic club, in other places where foreigners were.

"Red" Certificates occupied a higher level in the North Korean currency hierarchy: they were received in exchange for convertible currency. Even many socialist countries of the country then paid part of the salary of the currency convertible by their employees, because "Green", Not to mention ordinary money, it was impossible to buy many everyday things. Citizens of the USSR, for example, received 10% of their salary by dollars. Actually "Red" Certificates were an analogue of the convertible currency, they could be free and officially exchanged for dollars. The course of the Red Certificate was tightly tied to Japanese yen at the rate of: 100 yen – 1 "Red" certificate. In the black market, which at the time, however, has not yet received special development, in the spring of 1985 for one "Red" The certificate was given three "Green", And for 1 "green" – Three ordinary trees.

For a shallow coin (Chon – 1/100 North Korean Voons) before January 1, 1985, certificates were not. That’s why many Koreans buying goods on "Red" Voons, part of the cost was paid by chonami (for rental when calculating currency and "Red" They took only currency trifle, usually – yen, less often – cents). Sellers, too, apparently, could, replacing part "Green" revenue with their trifle, put some amount in my pocket. To prevent this, since first of January 1985, special chones were introduced for foreigners, differing from ordinary coins with two small five-pointed asterisks.

By the way, after our departure, somewhere in the late eighties, North Koreans renamed "Red" Certificates B "Green", a "Green" — v "Red". New names were, of course, more logical, since "green" The certificate became the North Korean embodiment of the dollar (which is known, evergreen), and "Red" The certificate has reminded his revolutionary color to the currency of the countries of the winning socialism, as is known, non-convertible. However, these changes occurred later.

In 1986-1987. South Korean and Japanese press began to report that since 1986. All those who own currencies in North Korean citizens were officially allowed to shop in currency stores. However, when I was in Pyongyang in 1984-1985., I drew attention to the fact that then the North Koreans appeared in currency stores completely free. In my then look it seemed strange, because in those days a Soviet man in the Leningrad or Moscow currency store would not sell anything (moreover, an attempt to buy something for dollars could be completely over serious troubles).

"Red" Certificates used on a par with dollars, yen, pounds in currency shops, center of which was located then on Changgwang Avenue, next to the carefully guarded quarters senior officials. Until February 1985 this store was called "Taedong", but then he was named in a new way (maybe it was due to the fact that it has become a joint venture, and he has a new partner – a Japanese of Korean descent). The name was given to it must be said, quite apt – Department Store "Paradise" ("Rakvon"). It happened name of the name of the district, which houses the store, but it sounded a considerable, though, most likely, and unintended irony: the contrast between the ordinary, "for the people", Korean shop and this department store "Paradise" it was impossible to even imagine. On the shelves of this store rows lined recorders and receivers, dozens of kinds of clocks, refrigerators, cameras, fashionable clothing, gourmet foods, cosmetics – all the better, all by world standards (of course, and at a price slightly higher than the world). Service department, too, it was built by the Japanese pattern. Showcases, trolleys, communicating turnstiles were made in Japan and downright shone Japanese brilliance and good-looking saleswoman dressed is not that just too Japanese, but not quite in the North Korean also acted partly by capitalist: Approach to customers, we greet them, actively helped to choose the goods. It is interesting that some of the goods to sell there may have been made in South Korea. At least, the South Korean company running shoes, so even with the Olympic logo, the store bought many employees of the Soviet Embassy (case, remember, happened shortly before the Seoul Olympics in 1988).

In addition to this department store in Pyongyang, there were also other currency shops there, quite numerous (I happened in my frequent and long walks along the Korean capital to detect four or five such outlets, but in reality, they probably had a lot more). They represented curious institutions, partly outside similar to the closed distributors for officials. Such shops had no external signs, and their windows were carefully launched or painted.

Among buyers department store "Paradise" Foreigners constituted a noticeable, but smaller part, and in "Small" dollar stores they generally did not appear. The main buyers there were North Korean functionaries and their wives – not in Korean thick, exquisitely dressed, with lungs, arrogant. However, the simple Korean in the chatter bag of France and in the plated slippers was there also a frequent visitor, and sometimes even the buyer. Embassy staff said that they often meet in the currency store of familiar officials, including members of the TPK Central Committee, and many of the cars that lined up in a row at the entrance to "Paradise", They had numbers of the Central Committee.

The abundance of officials forced the staff of the embassy to suspect that the Korean Elite received legal access to currency. Already later, I managed to find out that these assumptions were completely fair, and that since the beginning of the eighties, the Central Committee of the Central Committee, the generals and higher officials began to receive a part of their salary in the currency on which they were serving in "Paradise".

Foreign colonies in Pyongyang

In addition to currency salary of the North Korean bosses, there were several other sources, from which currency came into the pockets of Koreans. A significant role was played by translations from relatives from abroad, mainly from Japan. Money remained on the hands of those few lucky people who visited the border on business trips or study. Finally, a bribe served as another source, which were already taking more and more often in the currency.

Well, now about us, about foreign students. In total, in Pyongyang, then approximately 150-200 students from various countries. Most of them were the Chinese, which in the spring of 1985 there were 120 people (along with intern teachers). All foreigners who arrived in Pyongyang to study, first mastered Korean in the Department of Korean for foreigners during the year at the Philology of the University of Kim Il Sena, and only then went to "their" universities for education in the specialty. Most of all foreigners were in musical, pedagogical, polytechnic and agricultural institutions. Since we were in Pyongyang on a one-year practice, all our ten Korean months we spent at the University of Kim Il Sen.

We lived in a hostel of foreigners – a small building at the very entrance to the university. There were 5 floors in the hostel, but foreign students lived only in the second – female and third – men’s floors. On the ground floor there were a dining room, a small shop and offices of officials and special services attached to foreigners, and at the fourth and fifth there were employees of the dining room and the hostel, as well as postgraduates of the university (the entrance to these floors was separate, on a special staircase).

On the first floor, the entrance door is located a small passage, in which the round day was on duty. Of course, the entrance to the hostel was categorically prohibited, so if friends or relatives came to someone from the living with us, they were at the very bottom, the passage, wait for their comrade to them. On the hostel, as well as on the overwhelming majority of administrative, educational and public buildings in the DPRK, there was no sign.

In the 1984/85 school year, students were a bit: 7 – from the USSR, 8 from East Germany, 4 from Czechoslovakia, 2 from Pakistan and four floods (more precisely, Prince Sianuk’s supporters). Most of all were Chinese – 6 students and 22 teachers who arrived in Korea for internship. I must say that almost all of these students arrived in the DPRK to study the Korean itself, and not any special items. The exception was only two young and pretty Pakistani, which, by the way, were in the DPRK randomly, without having any real idea about this country and judging by her only on the beautiful pictures in the magazine "Korea" and similar editions. Partly of the ladies, as it turned out, just confused North Korea with South: much of the fact that they at home heard about affairs in South Korea, they became associated with the North. Naturally, the North Korean reality initially retained them into a shock state, but they still remained in Pyongyang with a solid determination to learn the language and then get some specialty.

The routine of our life, in general, was similar to the routine of the life of Korean students. From seven in the morning, breakfast began in the dining room at a hostel, then we went to classes that continued until lunch, that is, before o’clock. We dined at seven in the evening. Food in the dining room for foreigners was amazing in quality and very temperate by price. For students from different countries, they prepared differently: the Germans, Soviet and Czechs were preparing one meals, Chinese and campaucker – others, Pakistanikam (just two!) – Third. In fact, our predecessors – students who were in Korea in practice for several years earlier than us complained that in their times and food, and household conditions were not brilliant, although, of course, they were much better than that of Korean students actually. However, after the visit to Kim Il Senya in the USSR and Eastern Europe (and, apparently, in connection with this visit), which occurred in the spring of 1984, the food has sharply improved, in the dormitory made a thorough repair, sailed residential rooms by wallpaper, changed furniture.

We lived two people in ordinary, but comfortable rooms with an area of ​​about 10 square meters. In addition to beds, there was a wardrobe in the room, two tables with desk lamps, two small bookcases and a bedside table. If desired, the foreigners could live with each other or, if there were free rooms, then alive, but most preferred to neighbor the Korean student – the so-called "Tonsuchan". For Korean students get into numbers "Tonoxucanov" was a considerable privilege, and only those who studied better or had a powerful protection. The conditions in our hostel were, of course, are incomparably better than in the usual, Korean, and, and, moreover, foreigners were considered as a source of some income. Many (but not all) Tonsuchans treated "Own" Foreigners as a painful of the crane, from which various material benefits should have been sized. However, the bosses of Tonumucanov – university officials also willingly took offering and even extorted them, although more subtle.

Were among Tonsuchers and Persons, very inventive in terms of trade and entrepreneurship. For example, the local Komsomolsky leader, the head of the Komsomol organization who lived in the student hostel, not only actively traded dollars, but also used foreigners for their speculation. His favorite scheme was founded on the fact that neither in one open official document did not mention the presence of a card system in the DPRK, therefore, in the first department store, a foreigner sold everything that he would ask, and it was possible to pay for it not only certificates, but also ordinary, "wooden" vona.

The Komsomolsk Leader gave the money to foreigners and asked them to buy in the first department store Scarce Products. Usually it was about the fault, which in the province was not even in currency stores (these institutions were in any major city). A bottle of nasty grape wine, which in the Pyongyang store, where she performed purely decorative functions, cost a little less than three ordinary won, in the black market in the province was sold for one dollar (that is, for 9 won). Somehow, before the trip to the native city on vacation, our youth leader asked for one foreign student to buy 30 bottles of wine, and the other is 20 more. All this was sold in the black market with three hundred percent profit. To this, you need to add a large amount of fabric, which was purchased for him by his neighbor – a foreigner, so that the income of this young merchant was considerable (later, already in post-perestroikny Russia, I once again happened to meet this curious hybrid: the Komsomolsky figure, which became major merchant vodka).

The most important tasks of Tonsuchers were considered, of course, not speculation alcohol, but propaganda "Immortal Juche idea" and "Majestations of expensive leader", as well as observation of foreign students. It must be said that in solving the first task, none of the tonsumuchans of the zeal showed and conversations for chuchhesky themes almost did not lead. What is before watching us, then every day at 18.30 All Tonoxuchans, gathering in a special room on the first floor, reported to their boss from university debris about where they were and what their neighbors of foreigners did, and once a week wrote reports on the same topic. Then the general specialist was Lieutenant Colonel Lee Xe Su, who, but this statement will not seem strange, always seemed to me a delirious and serious man. Food tonsuchans in their canteens, together with "Simple" Korean students.

Cleanliness and order in our abode were supported by exemplary, cleaners, monterters, lasters worked not to downtrend, did everything to create the best conditions for us. They treated us all very goodwill.

All students united in groups exclusively and strictly on a national basis, without taking into account the level of their preparation. Students who came to the same country should have been involved together, even if they arrived from different universities, from different courses and the level of knowledge of the language they had very different. The training program, of course, depended on the duration of stay in Korea. Students from the USSR, for example, came for ten months (with the exception of the students of Isaa at Moscow State University, who spent six months in Korea), from East Germany – for 2 years, from Czechoslovakia – for 6 months, and the Chinese and deployers studied Korean Many years.

The training program of Soviet students envisaged lectures on Korean grammar and text reading, translation from Russian to Korean, hieroglyphic and so-called "Spoken language". I took this word in quotes, because in reality these classes were in listening to the phonogram of some Korean film and the analysis of her, which, I must say, it was really very useful for studying the grammar of a live spoken language (although the films themselves, in each of whom – I have not been lazy to calculate – Kim Il Saint mentioned 40 to 60 times, caught up with a yawn). Classes for studying texts, as can be seen from their name, consisted in reading and translating stories from special advantages, in most part dedicated to the description of a variety of feats and virtues Kim Il Sen. The hieroglyphic was taught in a limited volume and those who did not have before business with hieroglyphs quickly forgotten this wisdom.

It was believed that foreigners "Studied at the University", But, probably, it is better to say that we "Studied at the university", Since we didn’t have any direct connection with university organizations, and we could not even, as a rule, visit ordinary lectures along with Korean students. Everything was done only through officials working at a hostel, or through the teachers of the Department. Only they could organize a meeting with one or another specialist, receiving and photocopying books, even a visit to most museums needed to be coordinated with them.

There was no foreign students and interns and the right to use the Central University Library. Of course, on the very first days we were led to a sightseeing tour of the university and showed the library: catalogs, reading and subscription halls. But it all limited. Every time some of us tried to enter the building of the library, he stopped his duty and politely at the youngest, but resolutely saying that the entrance to foreigners was banned, did not even let the catalogs. As far as I know, to nobody from Soviet citizens through this barrier never managed. We, foreign artists, could get books in this way: with our dormitory there was a small library, to the head of which we treated to find literature on a particular topic. He himself picked up in the Central Library, those books that considered it possible to show foreigners, and issued them to us. To other libraries, Pyongyana, the entrance was all the more ordered. Although during excursions in "People’s Palace of Study" We were persistently invited to his library, but when students from the GDR tried to penetrate there, they did not come out of anything: they didn’t even have anything left for their pretexts and there even to the catalog.

Not so simple was a foreigner and go to the museum. For free visits to Pyongyang, only four museums were opened: historical, ethnographic, art and museum-monument of victory in the domestic liberation war. The remaining museums (for the most part – notorious "Museums Merit of the Great Leader", as well as a very close to them museum of the history of the Korean Revolution) could only be visited in an organized manner, with excursions. Somehow I and with.O. Kurbanov decided to go to the Korean Revolution History Museum. As we were explained in the museum itself, for the start, we turned into a hostel in the authorities with the appropriate request. In response, we were told traditional Korean "Discuss". Over the next two weeks, we have repeatedly reminded this request, but only after 16 days we were informed that everything was agreed and we can go to the museum. From the dormitory, the administration allocated us a car and accompanying graduate students. In the museum we met a guide and we are together, accompanied by two Koreans, slowly moved through the halls, almost completely empty (for the Korean visitors, the museum is open only at certain hours, and you can go to it only with groups).

For foreign students, excursions were organized in museums, watching movies in special small cinema halls at hotels (in ordinary foreigners were not allowed at all) or, together with Korean students, in a university club, occasionally – country picnics, and sometimes multi-day rides in the country, which Partially paid for the university. During the practice, I managed to go to Mehansan (2 days) and in Kymgansan (4 days) with visiting Wansana. In addition, somehow we made a one-day trip to Nammo, and a few trips to picnics. We should have visited in Keson, but this trip was interrupted because October 23, just during the visit to our "Summary" A group of Phanmunchzhom, who inhabited by the Embassy, ​​a MGIMO student, a certain Mr. Matuzok, ran (in the most literal sense of the word) to the south, provoking thus a shootout, led to victims on both sides.

We went by train, in a jewel car, while the Koreans themselves traveled, sitting on the rigid benches of common cars. Usually in the jewelry car we went alone foreigners, but sometimes the Koreans came across passengers – major officials (the benefit of the North Korea of ​​the functionar from a simple person could be distinguished). We went late in the evening, and in the morning were already in place. The train was slowly, standing for a long time at frequent stops, but in darkness outside the window only the dark stains of the mountains appeared, yes, if the case was in the spring, glittered water on rice fields. Little plants of weak yellowish lights gave out the villages, occasionally floated past the collectors, the same noncainted, as in Pyongyang: a pipe boiler room and 2-3 shops around. Life guessed rather than seen outside the window.

At the place of us already waited for a bus or cars on which we drove to the hotel. Hotels for foreigners in Korea is quite expensive, so the university helped us very much by taking advantage of housing during travel.

Stay in provincial cities was due to us with noticeable restrictions. In Kymgansan, however, none of the officials who accompany us did not tell us any prohibitions. It was also in Mkhhansan. In this, however, there is nothing surprising, because there are relatively deserted places there, and even specially equipped for the reception of foreigners, so the probability of some unwanted meetings is Mala. But in Keson, as we were officially warned long before the trip there, foreigners are forbidden to even leave the hotel. In Wansane, it was possible to go to an independent walk, but only with a special permission of the elder from the officials accompanying us. I and S.O. Kurbanov permission was obtained, although not without some work (and as a result they saw a lot of interesting things).

In addition to Pyongyang, the institutions for the service of foreigners were in Mkhhansan, Kymgansan, Wansane and, it seems, Nammo. In the mountains, Mkhhansan had a small, but very comfortable hotel, and in Kymgansan – a major tourist center of two complexes: more luxurious – for Japanese Koreans and simpler – for Soviet and other tourists. In addition, foreigners often went to swim on the beach in Nammimo. In the middle of the eighties, the North Korean government explicitly began to place some hopes for foreign tourism as a possible source of currency. In 1980-1985. Diplomatic club, dollar stores, several new hotels opened, a number of ambitious projects were launched – in particular, the construction of a 35-storey hotel "Corner". However, as now it is clear, these hopes turned out to be vain. Foreigners did not rush to spend the currency to admire the monument of the ideas of the Juche or the native village of the Great Chief, and the nuclear crisis of the beginning of the nineties and began in 1995. Hunger created the country not the best reputation abroad. Tourist Mecca North Korea did not, and the number of foreigners there became gradually decreasing.

So I saw Ya "Foreign Pyongyang" in 1984-1985. Of course, a foreign colony in Pyongyang represented a small, specific and isolated group. However, I hope that the story about the lives of those foreigners who are the will of fate or, more often, the will of the authorities were in, perhaps, the most closed society of the world, represents some interest, and, probably, deserves to give him a dozen-other pages. In the end, times are changing, and "Foreign Pyongyana", about which there is no question, he is already left only in the memory of those few who saw him sometime.

Foreign colonies in Pyongyang

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