There were many soldiers and foreign tourists, making for an odd mix. Normally the government prohibits tourists from taking pictures of the military, but perhaps for the special day, since they were there ceremonially, and since there were so many of them they let us take pictures and video of them.
The cemetery also overlooks Pyongyang and the Mausoleum holding the bodies of Kim Il Sung and, presumably by this point, Kim Jong Il, though they hadn’t yet reopened the mausoleum after Kim Jong Il’s death by this point.
More footage of the cemetery
More footage of the cemetery, including many soldiers up close in formation.
The cleared away most of the other tourists so we had somewhat privileged access for being cool with our guides.
How often are you surrounded by North Korean soldiers?
It doesn’t happen every day.
Closing shots of the Martyrs’ Cemetery
I should note that the cemetery holds the graves of some very important North Koreans, including the mother and one of Kim Il Sung’s wives, so the soldiers are paying respect to great heroes of the country.
I have always been confused with how soldiers respect honor and uniform in the abstract. If enemy soldiers hold similar ideals and follow their leaders loyally, do opposing soldiers respect and honor each other while trying to kill each other?
I raise this point because many Americans oppose doing anything with North Korea while their leaders govern so oppressively. Of course, I feel differently — that increasing communication and understanding among regular people will change things faster than waiting for our would-be leaders. But I feel like a lot of those Americans also hold the military in high regard.
I wonder how they would regard a martyrs’ cemetery. Presumably the people buried there fought for that country’s freedom.
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