Pyongyang is the infamous capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a city of soaring monuments and beloved willow trees. Poised on the banks of the Taedong river, the city is home to some 3.2 million inhabitants, mostly Communist party faithful and other notables, who dwell in a stark maze of state-owned apartment blocks. Citizens of Pyongyang are considered the fortunate ones, enjoying benefits otherwise denied to villages beyond the capital, including well-stocked state-run markets where goods can be bought at a fraction of the price of the black market.
In true Communist fashion, Pyongyang is a planned city, heavily rebuilt since the Korean War. Its long, wide boulevards are flanked by immense and imposing buildings, all conforming to the dimensions of state-endorsed architectural styles. In North Korea, urban environments are believed to shape human consciousness, thus the layout of any city becomes a vital part of ideological control. An architect is considered much more than a designer of buildings, rather he is an engineer of the soul.