Kijong-dong: North Korea’s Deserted “Propaganda Village”

On April 12, 2014 by Tim Newman

Kijong-dong - Propaganda Village - flag

North Korea is no joke of course, but some of the stunts and propaganda they’ve come out with over the years can genuinely appear childish. And funny. Kijong-dong is one of their more flimsy attempts at looking prosperous and succesful.

Kijong-dong or “Propaganda Village” as it’s known by the West and South Korea is a small town built in the North’s half of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The DMZ was set up under the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War. The DMZ is a buffer zone between the two uncomfortable bed fellows. Despite its name it’s one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world. The bridge pictured below goes between the two countries and is endearingly referred to as the “bridge of no return”.

Kijong-dong - Propaganda Village - bridge of no return

According to North Korea Kijong-dong is a bustling town of 200 families who run a collective farm. The town is reportedly serviced by a childcare center, kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, and a hospital. Upon closer inspection, that’s clearly rubbish.

Kijong-dong - Propaganda Village - shells

In reality the town appears to be completely deserted. Their aim seems to have been to try to tempt South Koreans to defect over to them. Some of the houses are brightly painted and have been wired for electricity, but using high-powered lenses it becomes clear that they’re nothing more than concrete shells, windows without glass and some without internal rooms.

Kijong-dong - Propaganda Village - Blue roof


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Lights turn off and on like clockwork and the occasional street sweeper is seen keeping up appearances like an extra staying after hours on the set of Eastenders.

On the southern side of the North-South divide is a mirror village that belongs to South Korea called Daeseong-dong, which is inhabited. In the 80’s they built a 98.4 m tall flagpole. North Korea would NOT be outdone by the southern infidels so they built the Panmunjeom flagpole which won the petty size battle at 160 m in height. See what I mean about childish? It was the second highest flagpole in the world at the time (now third after the flag of Azerbaijan in Baku at 162 m and the Dushanbe Flagpole in Tajikistan, at 165 m).

Kijong-dong - Propaganda Village - pole

In an effort to step up the North’s temptation to would-be southern defectors it installed huge speakers on the walls of some of Kijong-dong’s buildings . Initially the speakers roared with a commentary about how great it was in North Korea and how southerners would be welcomed like brothers if they were to simply cross the border.

At some point they realised that wasn’t working. At all. So they switched to banging out patriotic marching music and anti-Western speeches, sometimes for up to 20 hours a day (childish?) In 2004 both sides decided to pack it in with the speakers.


As far as the North’s concerned Kijong-dong is still busy and prosperous. But the photos don’t lie. But then I can’t imagine Kim Jong-un standing up one day and going “Yeah, OK guys, you got me! It’s deserted! LOL! We’re actually pretty screwed up here, you know, mass starvation etc… you got any burgers I could borrow?”


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