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Dawn.com presents a rare picture of the black nights in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The clock strikes 10, and a siren ruptures the silent Pyongyang night.

The music that follows sounds like a traditional Korean string instrument played to a repetitive tune with high notes and a slow tempo. The haunting melody reverberates through the buildings.

“It’s the signal for people to go home,” said Hwang Sung Chol, a resident. And this music, which is played nightly from the railway station, would be played twice more, at 11pm and midnight.

There was a constant stream of people on the streets, all walking some place, somewhere. Trams and buses were always packed to the roof but why are these people always going somewhere and where are they going?

And why are there still so many locals out at night despite their Dear Leader’s call for them to return home?

These people seem accustomed to walking in the shadow; shadows that could have been banished with more street lights but instead, these additional lights are used to light up the portraits and murals of the two Kims all around the city.

They walk silently and stoically in the shadow of their leaders’ glory, always moving, perhaps in hope of change.  – Photos and text by Wong Kang Wei for Dawn.com

A tram filled with passengers drives past the roundabout in front of Pyongyang railway station. Two slogans flank the portrait of the nation's Eternal President on the top of the building. They read: ?Long live the Great Leader and respected comrade Kim Jong-il!? and ?Long live the glorious Workers Party of Korea!?
A tram filled with passengers drives past the roundabout in front of Pyongyang railway station. Two slogans flank the portrait of the nation's Eternal President on the top of the building. They read: ?Long live the Great Leader and respected comrade Kim Jong-il!? and ?Long live the glorious Workers Party of Korea!?
Most buildings are pitch-black inside and hide well in the darkness of the night. However, slogans glorifying their leaders and political ideals will flash word by word before lighting up as a sentence for a few seconds. The slogan here above a building along Yonggwang street reads: Long live our country's Socialist system!
Most buildings are pitch-black inside and hide well in the darkness of the night. However, slogans glorifying their leaders and political ideals will flash word by word before lighting up as a sentence for a few seconds. The slogan here above a building along Yonggwang street reads: Long live our country's Socialist system!
North Koreans walking in a dark underpass, beneath a junction that connects Sungri Street, Yonggwang Street and Otan-Kangan Street. Underpasses are commonly seen in the city centre as they replace pedestrian crossings at road intersections.
North Koreans walking in a dark underpass, beneath a junction that connects Sungri Street, Yonggwang Street and Otan-Kangan Street. Underpasses are commonly seen in the city centre as they replace pedestrian crossings at road intersections.
Most shops in Pyongyang close at 7pm and turn off all lights. The pharmacy in the picture has its interior dimly lit in addition to the shop sign despite its closure.
Most shops in Pyongyang close at 7pm and turn off all lights. The pharmacy in the picture has its interior dimly lit in addition to the shop sign despite its closure.
A mural by the side of the Pyongyang Grand Theatre shows a scene of soldiers and children singing, dancing and playing music as though celebrating a victory. The words on the banner read: Long live General Kim Jong Il. Murals and monuments are often the brightest sources of light at night.
A mural by the side of the Pyongyang Grand Theatre shows a scene of soldiers and children singing, dancing and playing music as though celebrating a victory. The words on the banner read: Long live General Kim Jong Il. Murals and monuments are often the brightest sources of light at night.
Lights from the drink and snack store beside Pyongyang railway station serves as lighting for locals to watch their steps while walking the dark. ? Photo by Elizabeth Law for Dawn.com
Lights from the drink and snack store beside Pyongyang railway station serves as lighting for locals to watch their steps while walking the dark. ? Photo by Elizabeth Law for Dawn.com
The 170m tall Juche Tower, which symbolises North Korea's ideal of self-reliance, is illuminated with four rows floodlights situated at the corners, with its crimson red flame tipping the city's skyline. The two buildings flanking the tower with their outlines lit are topped with glowing red slogans of ?Focus? and ?Cohesion?.
The 170m tall Juche Tower, which symbolises North Korea's ideal of self-reliance, is illuminated with four rows floodlights situated at the corners, with its crimson red flame tipping the city's skyline. The two buildings flanking the tower with their outlines lit are topped with glowing red slogans of ?Focus? and ?Cohesion?.
The Grand People's Study House (centre), built in 1982 to celebrate Kim Il Sung's 70th birthday, is aligned directly opposite the Juche Tower across Taedong River. On the left and right are the Korean Art Gallery and Korea Central History Museum respectively.
The Grand People's Study House (centre), built in 1982 to celebrate Kim Il Sung's 70th birthday, is aligned directly opposite the Juche Tower across Taedong River. On the left and right are the Korean Art Gallery and Korea Central History Museum respectively.
Blackout is a common fixture in Pyongyang. A waitress is waiting by the bar counter for the lights to return after she gave out candles to guests dining in the restaurant.
Blackout is a common fixture in Pyongyang. A waitress is waiting by the bar counter for the lights to return after she gave out candles to guests dining in the restaurant.

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microbima Apr 15, 2012 11:16pm
Hoping that North Koreans will soon find light out of this dark, mysterious tunnel in which they are stuck.Great job Dawn.