pyongyang pc sale

Outside the Kimilsungia-Kimjonglia Exhibition Hall, home to Pyongyang’s spectacular annual flower exhibition, there’s a gift shop (wherever you go, there’s always a gift shop). This one sells the usual DPRK faire: seeds, ginseng, motorbike parts, postcards, that sort of thing… and it also sells computers. There’s a gleaming, unpriced Mac G5 sitting in the corner, while several PCs clutter up the counter-space. Unusually, a couple of them are priced in tourist currency (in this case $US, although the euro is more commonly seen) and North Korean won, suggesting that there’s a bustling local trade in used computers.

Modem apparently not included

One careful owner

On my flight from Shenyang to Pyongyang, I sat behind several rows of young North Koreans, Kim badges shining proudly on their lapels. Three of them were also wearing iPods. And if they have mp3 players, you figure they have access to computers. Perhaps they bought them at a flower exhibition.


  1. And I don’t have an iPod..

  2. a computer can be a gift. but then i think computers are the work of the devil and if anyone should give you a computer as a gift they should be slain.

  3. One unusual thing about this is that the price in DPRK Won for one of the computers is 78,200 Won and in USD it is 460, this makes the exchange rate 170 Won to the dollar, which is the official rate but this is not a rate used by anyone in NK at all, it is just an arbitrary rate which has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual purchasing power parity of the Won to the $, very odd and although it is common to see things priced this way in Pyongyang it is almost always at shops where many foreigners are expected, there is no way that they seller will accept 78,200 Won in local money for the computer as that amount is only about 25 bucks at the PPP rate, which begs the question; if the computer is for sale to the locals then why put a price in Won that it can’t possibly be sold for, and if it is for sale to foreigners why is it at the flower show? not the usual place one pops in to get a second hand machine

  4. Used to be a place of tongue in cheek hilarity this, and I, for one had become a regular viewer. Seems to have all gone stale here however, shame!

    • You’re right – updating this site has very much taken a back seat since I’ve been working on the Kittenwar book, but I hope a return to form won’t be too long in coming.

      In the mean time, apologies.

  5. stumbled accross your blog (over german fun-site…the showed your silk-pupa-pizza-experiment :-) ) and its really good writing style.
    I really like the ironic way to write about the experience in todays world.

    About the computers: Reminds me of shanghai and bejing…the big Computer-markets….had a lot of fun there with friends..especially finding the real new stuff….in german eyes: crazy asians ;-)

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