Pyongyang Department Store No. 1

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Laika ac Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 (11975506264).jpg
Exterior of the Pyongyang Department Store No. 1
Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 is located in Pyongyang
Pyongyang Department Store No. 1
Location in Pyongyang
General information
Address Sungri Street
Coordinates 39°1′20.14″N 125°45′11.42″E / 39.0222611°N 125.7531722°E / 39.0222611; 125.7531722
Design and construction
Architect Yun Ko-gwang[1]
Paradise Department Store - taken from the first floor down towards the ground floor

The Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 is a major retail store in Pyongyang, North Korea, catering mainly to the local community.[citation needed]

Located on Sungri Street near Kim Il-sung Square in downtown Pyongyang,[2] it is one of the largest retail stores in the country and is often the site of large commodity exhibitions.[3]

The store, along with two others, are run reportedly jointly with Chinese business partners.[4]


The store offers a wide variety of items including electronics, clothing, furniture, foodstuffs,[5] kitchenware, and toys.[2] As of 2013, approximately 70 percent of the items in the store are produced domestically.[6] The store is also one of several official tourist stops in the city.[7] While in other, more upmarket, department stores, like Paradise Department Store, only hard currency or a hard-currency related Won debit card is accepted as payment for the goods, in Department Store No. 1 only local currency is accepted.[8]

Swedish undercover journalist Caroline Salzinger (sv) describes her visit to the department store as a tourist: Upon arrival, the store was still closed.[9] One of the tour guides accompanying her tried to distract her, while the other one rushed in to get the doors opened. When opened, the guide had to scramble passers-by to occupy the store as "shoppers". The moment they step in, the escalator is started.[10] The shoppers appear clueless as to how to act in a department store. When after great pains Salzinger managed to purchase the goods she wanted,[11] the cashier is confused and will not hand her a plastic bag for her items: "We look at each other in the eyes. She knows that something is wrong, and that not everything is like it should, but she does not know what it is."[12]

Similarly, according to Salzinger, a Western diplomat had monitored the department store for one hour, and saw no one come out with purchased items.[11]

However, an United Nations international officer who lived in Pyongyang for 15 months[13] in the early 2010s and visited the Department Store No. 1 on a regular basis, met always a lot of local shoppers in the store, purchasing especially food stuff and cheap cigarettes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Choe Kwang (April 2014). "50-Year Devotion to Education". Democratic People's Republic of Korea. No. 700. p. 29. ISSN 1727-9208. 
  2. ^ a b Hokkanen, Jouni (2013). "Pohjois-Korea: Matkailijan opas" [North Korea: Traveler's Guide]. Pohjois-Korea: Siperiasta itään [North Korea: East of Siberia] (in Finnish). Helsinki: Johnny Kniga. p. [10]. ISBN 978-951-0-39946-0. 
  3. ^ "Commodity Exhibition Held at Pyongyang Department Store No. 1". Korean Central News Agency. Dec 6, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ Jae Cheol Kim (Nov 1, 2006). "The Political Economy of Chinese Investment in North Korea". North Korean Economy Watch. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  5. ^ Pak Won Il (Feb 25, 2012). "North Koreans Experience The Marvels Of A Supermarket Firsthand". Business Insider. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ Curtis Melvin (Feb 22, 2013). "North Korean products in department stores on the rise". North Korean Economy Watch. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Kumgangsan Tour". Koryo Tour Group. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ e.g. Andrei Lankov, Money matters: the three-tiered system of the 1980s North Korean currency, NKNews 28 May 2014; and Rob York, Black market cash, The real value of N. Korean Won, in: NKNews, 1 September 2014;
  9. ^ Salzinger 2008, p. 47.
  10. ^ Salzinger 2008, p. 48.
  11. ^ a b Salzinger 2008, p. 49.
  12. ^ Salzinger 2008, p. 50.
  13. ^ Black market cash, The real value of N. Korean Won, in: NKNews, 1 September 2014;

Works cited[edit]

  • Salzinger, Caroline (2008). Terveisiä pahan akselilta: Arkea ja politiikkaa maailman suljetuimmissa valtioissa (in Finnish). Translated by Lempinen, Ulla. Jyväskylä: Atena. ISBN 978-951-796-521-7.