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Pyongyang Circus information
Lonely Planet review
The Pyongyang Circus is a popular afternoon or evening out, though it’s housed in a palatial building a million miles away from your standard big top and sawdust floor. Here you’ll see a stellar display of acrobatics, some very funny clowns and some deeply sad-looking bears who skip rope while dressed in outlandish costumes.
Cinema, theatre and opera trips are also possible (although rare) , and while performances aren’t likely to be particularly gripping, again, it’s the experience that’s interesting. The two cinemas on offer are the newly refurbished Taedongmun Cinema on Sungri St and the Pyongyang International Cinema , a six-screen complex on Yanggak Island. The biennial Pyongyang Film Festival (www.pyongyanginternationalfilmfestival.com) is held here in September of even-numbered years.
The main theatres are the Pyongyang Grand Theatre , the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre , the Moranbong Theatre and the Mansudae Art Theatre , although spectacles vary little from one to the other. The newly completed People’s Theatre is part of the brand-new buildings along Mansudae St, and stages some of the most prestigious spectacles in the city.
Drama is not usually shown, and instead you’ll usually see orchestras performing classical and traditional Korean music, or one of the five North Korean revolutionary operas such as The Flower Girl and A Daughter of the Party . Jump at the chance to see these, as they are sumptuous productions with very high production values.
Soccer , a very popular local spectator sport, is a good way to spend an evening with ordinary Koreans. Sadly though, foreigners are normally only allowed to attend international fixtures, though exceptions have been known. Matches are played at Yanggakdo Football Stadium.
Other sports are possible by prior arrangement, especially if you’re travelling with a sports group. The Olympic pool and the Changgwang Health Complex are both open to foreigners on Saturday, while a round at the nine-hole golf course at the Yanggakdo Hotel will make a great anecdote for years to come.
If you’re stuck in your hotel for the evening then karaoke , pool and a visit to the sauna are the main entertainment options, though the Yanggakdo Hotel, the most common residence of tourists in Pyongyang, also boasts a casino , ten-pin bowling , pool tables and a microbrewery serving up delicious beer. Note that the Chinese sauna at the Yanggakdo is a ‘special service’ sauna for tired businessmen, so it’s best to stick to the normal sauna.