National Geographic : 2008 Jun
PH OTO J O URNAL I YANNIS KONTOS One evening at the Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang, I saw these men playing billiards. They're probably hotel workers, because most of the guests are either tourists or Chinese businessmen. The hotel keeps visitors on a tight leash; there's nothing to do at night anyway, even if you were allowed to go out. There's no escape from all the political art in Pyongyang, including this 160-foot-high hammer, sickle, and brush built in 1995 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of North Korea's Workers' Party. Communism may be on the wane elsewhere, but giant statuary serves as a potent reminder to the people: The state is far bigger than you are.