This Country Has No Commercial Advertising, And Its Cities Look Weirdly Barren As A Result

Pyongyang, North KoreaA main road in the capital, Pyongyang.

Observing all the recent coverage of North Korea, we couldn’t help but notice how bizarre it looks to see a city with no advertisements.

The following photos are creepy, all subtle variations on the shade of grey. Major urban spaces that would be covered in ads elsewhere — bus stops, concrete facades, public plazas, major roadsides — are eerily empty in North Korea (if not occupied by communist or anti-American propaganda). 

Obviously, the lack of billboard advertising is due to the country’s communist disposition. But it’s still an interesting glance at what a world with no ads might look like.

Most striking about these images is the sheer volume of space that is simply left blank. The photos are street scenes from Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, and they bluntly illustrate the stark contrast to the thriving bustle of the country’s Asian neighbours.

From a distance, Pyongyang looks like any other Asian city. The Ryugyong Hotel, the tallest building in North Korea, is in the distance.

But at street level there is almost nothing to see other than the physical architecture of the city.

A public skating rink in Pyongyang. In America, this would be covered in hoardings.

Pyongyang men in uniforms pass the time in a public square.

A main thoroughfare for pedestrian traffic, entirely ad-free.

A barren commuter hub in Pyongyong.

An eerie nighttime scene in Pyongyang shows portraits of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung and ex-leader Kim Jong-il illuminated next to a highway.

A Pyongyang street framed by a bus window.

A man pushing his bicycle in central Pyongyang. The large billboard is an example of North Korean propaganda.

This metropolitan scene looks odd without marketing indicators of any kind.

This almost looks normal but ... the decorations lining the streets turn out to be communist propaganda. This was the 99th birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, in April, 2011.

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