Pyongyang’s central square is where North Korea’s massive military parades normally take place. The plaza is ringed by austere-looking buildings: most impressive of these is the Grand People’s Study House, the country’s largest library and national centre of Juche studies, where any North Korean over 17 can come for free lectures.
With over 30 million books, finding what you want is inevitably quite a challenge – and you will be proudly shown the impressive system of conveyor belts that can deliver books in seconds. You’ll also normally visit a reading room, a classroom, the intranet room and a room full of late-'80s cassette recorders.
Other buildings on the square include the Korean National Art Gallery, which is worth a visit to see the postwar socialist realist art collection. There are 14 rooms of prewar Korean art that are of very high quality, too. There’s also the ho-hum Korean Central History Museum on the opposite side of the square. There’s a great view from the riverside bank across the Taedong to the Tower of the Juche Idea, where groups usually go to take photos. There’s also the Austrian joint venture Ryongwang Coffee Shop here, where you can get a decent cappuccino.