Rare photos of a North Korea amusement arcade

north-korean-arcade-photos-2-600x450.jpg Gaming blog UK Resistance has obtained several present-day photos of a depressingly bare, archaic video game arcade in Pyongyang. The person who took and submitted the photos chose to remain anonymous for safety reasons. Speaking of North Korea, the current issue of The Paris Review has an amazing article by Barbara Demick about two young North Koreans who risked their lives to make a romantic relationship work. Inside a North Korean arcade


  1. What’s with the glass hood? If that automatically lifts up with a hiss after you insert the coin, I say those are way cooler than the rest of the world’s video games…

  2. Nothing more depressing than sunlight in a video arcade. Don’t they understand those places are supposed to be dark?

  3. as these pictures were sent in anonymously and not corroborated, can we be sure that this is not simply a retro-style games museum?
    question everything

    1. yeah, uk resistance is umm. awesome site, but not somewhere I’d take as a reliable source of anything besides sonic related oddness.

  4. What´s with the half-transparent person behind the standing girl? A prank or some weird effect from the camera?

  5. That’s one of the saddest things I’ve seen today. Especially when *South* Korea arguably has the biggest game industry/cultures in the world.

  6. The sun shines over there?

    Seriously, the lack of press coverage and the few bits of grainy footage of North Korean TV that I’ve seen makes me imagine the place to be overcast and gloomy most of the time.

  7. The part in that couple’s story of the girl believing life in her village is better than in the rest of the world (because the propaganda says it’s a barren famined war-stricken place) is amazing. Truly Orwellian. I wonder how many will go mad when that day of liberation comes.

  8. Those cabinets are commonly available, and are a pretty price effective choice for a MAME cab if you have the space.

  9. It’s somebody who moved while the camera shutter clicked. It’s probably dimmer in there than the picture makes it seem, and the shutter speed was dropped to compensate.

  10. Considering how he seems to be incorporated into everything, I would not be surprised if Kim Jong Il-II is a playable character.


  11. Are you quite sure it’s not the arcade at York Beach ME circa 1982? (Just kidding, but it brings back memories).

  12. Here’s another fascinating peek into North Korea: these two managed to enter by train via the Russian border, normally closed to Western tourists. They were in North Korea for 36 hours without a guide!


    They were aware they were taking a big risk, but they managed to stay out of trouble. Once they reached Pyongyang, they went through the standard prepackaged tour, and then left North Korea via the scheduled train to China.

  13. and this is in the capital where only the elite are allow to live.the kids in the villages don’t have white jeans and sneakers.another thing,look at how beat things are.is this because these games a second or third hand from a even more elite and very private living area or the people who use/used them were flustered/drunk–think ex NK army-air force base “club”..

  14. lol, those are my photos, taken last year.
    As far as i can remember this was at the Mangyongdae Fun Fair. You have to admire their ability to keep those machines working for so long. I mean, getting spare parts can’t exactly be easy for them. The oldest machine in those photos is Western Gun, from 1975 I think.

    — J

  15. Hey gang. Thanks for name checking the Yie Ar Kung Fu. I had totally forgotten about playing that as a kid. I must’ve dumped fifty bucks in quarters into a machine one summer. Think I’ll go get the Konami Klassix version for the DS and be entertained for about 5 minutes.

    Thanks for the memories, Kim Jong Ill!! Please die quietly in your sleep so I may come and make grilled cheese sandwiches for your citizens.

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