North Korea’s first-ever video game (according to Shanghaiist) let’s you drive through a virtual Pyongyang. The game is produced by Nosotek, a western IT company based in North Korea, and you can play it for free on the website of Koryo Tours.
We gave it a try and will share our impressions.
The first thing that’s clear from the game is that Pyongyang is a welcoming place. There are lots of exclamation points and friendly statements welcoming the player and potential tourist. The soundtrack is a tinny, exuberant, and bizarre symphony, typical to mid-90s video games, except in this case it may be what North Koreans actually listen to.
The controls are simple enough, as is the directive to plow into petrol barrels so that your car doesn’t run out of gas. There’s also a warning that if you crash into 10 other cars you will lose (more on this later).
I get off to a bad start. After trying to drive off the road to explore uncharted areas of Pyongyang, and getting teleported back to the road, my steering wheel gets stuck to the side and my car keeps veering to the side and teleporting back again.
The game scolds me: “Pity they can’t teach you to improve your driving.”
As I cross the first intersection, I meet an attractive traffic lady. She too scolds me: “Drive straight on. Don’t stare at me, I’m on duty.”
In the background there is a large propaganda poster. I can’t help but notice Pyongyang is a ghost city.
Chafing against the reins of this totalitarian society, I crash my car into the first vehicle I see. The traffic cop reappears and she isn’t pleased. “If you hit three vehicles, you will be stopped for bad driving,” she warns me.
Three?? I seem to remember the instructions at the start of the game saying 10.
Driving around I encounter certain tourist attractions, like the famous Pyongyang Gymnasium.
I see a billboard that suggests that they have car dealerships that sell Volkswagens in North Korea. Can this be true?
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