Inside North Korea

Guardian writer and architecture critic Oliver Wainwright’s new book offers a rare look inside hotels, stadiums and leisure centres in the totalitarian state

The phrase ‘socialist architecture’ tends to evoke images of utilitarian buildings – imposing high rises and squat concrete structures devoid of all colour. But this is not the case in North Korea.

Pyongyang’s skyline is dotted with tower blocks in bright shades of yellow, blue and green. The pastel-hued interiors of its leisure centres and theatres wouldn’t look out of place in a Wes Anderson film. Landmark buildings such as the Pyongyang Circus have a sci-fi feel – combining retro futuristic elements with features inspired by traditional Korean temples – while the Metro is decorated with lavish chandeliers and colourful murals. The city presents a fascinating mish-mash of styles and its idiosyncratic buildings serve to promote the ideals of the ruling Workers’ Party.


Why do I need to register?

Every month, hundreds of thousands of people visit us here on our website. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. We just ask you to provide a few details about yourself and what you do. Don't worry, we won't share your information with anyone, unless you give us permission to do so. In return you can:

Submit your work

Send us your latest projects, which we will review and consider to be featured on our website or in the print magazine.

Receive our newsletter

Get the latest creative insight and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox, in a newsletter curated by the CR editorial team.

Subscribe for more from CR

Subscribe to Creative Review to access all our premium online content, the digital archive which includes over 400 issues of the magazine and much more.




Maidenhead, Berkshire