Commie Blocks in Pyongyang

Commie block, brutalism, oppressive, USSR, cultural revolution, North Korea 1960s economic miracle, North Korea 1970s stagnation, North Korea 1986 September 5th night of the red candles, North Korea eternal bear market, “2003 name swap of the Asiatic Black bear and the Danish major league semen producing bull (soon to be native to North Korea) in order to bring about economic revitalisation”. You just finished rehearsal. You’re a Lieutenant in the Korean people’s army, musical division. Moranbong band, your parents would think it’s a big deal – they’re working in spartan conditions harvesting soybeans, but you’re only third seat. It’s hypothesised Kimmy boy lost interest after the producer penned “Let’s study (For the glorification of our nation)”. At the same time General Kim Yoo-Sin – lead conductor mysteriously disappeared (hypothesised to be a concubine, Kimmy did pick the starting 10 of Moranbong himself after all), it went rapidly downhill since then, from a true Juche band to a Red Army Orchestra clone with over 96 members. But dear God those tomboys in military uniforms are hot, you’re patiently waiting for the next full-scale famine so when you do suck on their titties it’s for Juche purposes of bone enrichment. Anyway, you’re walking back to your commie block from rehearsal, browsing the /dgl/ board (dispatches [from] glorious leader) on your intranet’s Mount Pektu Snow Shoveling forum. Postings are terse, except for one retard named “Bandi” trying to get you to read his book about how kafkaesque Pyongyang is and why you should escape your workless life, does he not realise how derivative is. “Yankee go home!” you exclaim, to the immediate applause of the Kim Il-Sung statue manual grass cutter. “Keep cutting grass, grass cutter”, contrary to 老外 belief, eating grass is not the imperative of these thankless heroes of the Juche ideal, preservation of the supreme leader’s land is. Turning the corner on to Vinylon Street 1265 your commie column comes into view: since you have a degree in Juche science from the atom university of Pyongyang (designed by Mia “Hadid” Khalifa) you get to live in the modern science district, which unlike the city center isn’t just patel pillars of oppression. Concentric rings of an atom’s orbit criss-cross one another up 70 floors, but it’s purely metaphorical – there isn’t a single electron flowing inside. Your apartment is a satellite in disguise, you’re not 100% sure on that one, the metal plate on the roof could just be “Art Deco”. Tourists think they’re hot shit when they remark that the pastel commie blocks of centre Pyongyang are a thin veneer over mere figuratively oppressive rectangles, wrong again. 20% of those “monoliths” are 3d printed with styrofoam to give the illusion of population. They house one Juche-idea monitor for 2 days, a styrofoam penthouse apartment blending in with the real deal by virtue of it’s darkness. Three days and the building’s gone, the styro melts in the summer and shatters in the winter. The iconic Pyongyang pastel isn’t a distraction, not an ethereal veil of childish delight over run of the mill brutality, it’s retardation plain and simple. That’s all. Back in the day, when electricity was scarce, the best way they could make a building look lived in was to make it colorful. If you’re distracted by a rip off of patented barbie pink maybe you won’t notice that all the windows are dark. Science district fixes that doomed strategy: constantly powered LEDs line each level, you gotta see it kiddo, it’s like Vegas over here. Look real close and you’ll see the house-lights are still off, but you can’t look close! Gaze tracking intelligence follows your every movement. You ever read academic articles about the perception of the common western Jackdaw? Crazy shit, you can turn your head profile style, but orient your eyes on a piece of food, and they’ll move towards the food slower than if you were just doing profile head eyes forward. If Pyongyang zoo can train an ape to smoke some fat darts, you bet your ass Eastern Jackdaws of superior IQ are reporting you to the Juche monitor if you gaze into the abyss too long. So you know who you are now, you’re a North Korean lass, real cute lil thing, you’re being humanised, I’m humanising “you” to you, indoctrinating you to the only ideology that reliably creates tomboys, understand yet? Simple stuff really, I may be the last Irish follower of the Juche ideal left – am I the final synthesis of the IRA and all it’s splinter groups? Possibly. I figured it out guys, I really did, but let’s get back to the point. GOD I want to fuck the Moranbong band cellist. 2013 cellist, google this shit on youtube, those fucking military pants got her looking like a more commie Oswald Mosley. Are unfinished monuments to financial ruin that weren’t originally intended to be brutalist, brutalist? Yes, they are, brutalism is when you’re meant to be cool and efficient, but you’re boring and poor instead.


You’re a French born businessman. 30 year partner at Bain & Company in Los Angeles (you are French by blood, but university graduate you just couldn’t ignore the fact that US consultants at the same company get 30% higher pays than their European counterparts, so you left Europe, you soulless bastard). The phone rings, it’s the year 2048 and the phone keeps ringing. Pick it up: Pyongyang calling, new world towers on lonesome street (Blur’s best album, notably featuring no brutalism. I know you think ol’ commie North Korea is brutalist paradise, but does the man on the street really think so? Damon Albarn certainly doesn’t, seriously, where the fuck is the percussion? Where the fuck are noises that don’t sound like they came out of a Nokia? Brutalism is clearly a contentious matter, perhaps a matter of salience? Consider the following: Brutalism in Bristol – you’re in Bristol, brutalist theatre in London – out of place and disturbing since no one ever suffered in London, brutalist commie block in Pyongyang – it’s exactly what the Westerner expects, therefore they don’t really notice it. If you follow my reasoning here, this begs the question, is brutalism only possible and effective when the surrounding ideology and atmosphere isn’t brutalist? You’re tired of this, you’re French and you have things to do) needs a big man with a big capacity to organise along geopolitical lines – that’s you. The private jet crosses the electromagnetic firmament over the DMZ, complete silence for the first time in anyone’s life. Ryugyong Hotel sits lame in the distance – “Looks kinda like an untopped bic pen in a pyramid” you muse. Touch down, meet Corporal Lim Koo-Yin, minister of infrastructure.

“Listen, you’re organising your workflow along manufacturing lines, you need to organise it along geopolitical lines”. 

“G’ne c’est qua brutaliste, comprendre?”

“Mister, we try geopolitical in 2003, no good. We tell Queen Elizabeth “Eight of Pyongyang’s best architecture students for eight of yours, good deal, yes?”, but Britain tell us “No. We want agricultural science”.

The conspiracy against North Korea to stop them building buildings that aren’t commie blocks.