Not only the capital of North Korea but also the smaller towns in the country are changing slowly but steadily. Ever more often we see somebody using a mobile phone, wearing a bright colored jacket or pushing a baby stroller (children are traditionally carried on the back). Next to great plainness, even poverty in the countryside this contrast is growing fast.
Also, the number of tourists is growing year by year. Many Chinese want to see how life is on the other side of the border.
But at the same time there is the trade embargo of many countries. This is one reason why the big ferries that in former times cruised to and from Japan, have now been laying still in the seaport cities of Wonsan and Rajin for many years. Till somebody had the creative idea of doing cruises along the coastal line! During our stay in Rajin the ferries still were under repair, but newspapers reported lately that now, it is possible: Tourists can smoothly travel down from Rajin (in the far north-east of the country) to the scenic region of the Kumgang mountains (near the South Korean border) in only 20 hours.
I think it is exiting to observe the development of Korea’s North. Often painful as well, because the extremes are so far apart. My greatest challenge lies in ranging all these contrasts and the often contrary estimations of other observers rightly.