Bowling? In Pyongyang?
The Pyongyang Bowling Alley, which was opened ten-odd years ago on the bank of the scenic Taedong River, renders active services to the cultural and emotional lives of the people and promotion of their health.
It contains 40 bowling alleys, electronic amusement facilities, a restaurant, a shop and saunas.
It is always full of working people and students who visit here in their spare time, to say nothing of holidays and red-letter days.
The alley hosts the DPRK bowling championships every year. Bowlers from the Pyongyang Bowling Alley Sports Club show fine results in the championships.
Foreigners also visit this place.
Its employees take good care of bowling equipment and service facilities and are always kind to visitors.
Supposedly, Diane Sawyer bowled here in 2006 while filming a piece on North Korea. You can see an overhead view here.
Here’s another description from Ermanno Furlanis in part III of his very entertaining “I Made Pizza for Kim Jong Il:”
We had often seen a building with a sign which said “Bowling” in English. We imagined this place to be the usual run-down Korean dive and we dared Mr Om to take us there. After we had nagged him for a while he finally agreed with a sly grin. Once again it was our turn to be embarrassed. We entered the largest, most modern bowling alley I have ever seen with 20 lanes, lights and mirrors everywhere, all of it brand new and in impeccable condition. Our first thought was that this was a place for tourists, but we were mistaken. The patrons here were Koreans and better bowlers than we, in spite of the famine. There were also a lot of foreigners. We met a banker from Great Britain whose bank was starting to sow the first tiny seeds in this country in the hope that the market will one day open up.
According to CanKor, the bowling alley plays an important role in youth rebellion:
The playing of Rock and roll, and all its variations, in public is
banned, BUT if you live close to the Chinese border, you can hear Yanji
radio stations play western music. Also, CD’s, video, etc. flow into
North Korea through unofficial “official channels,” i.e. travelers
returning home from abroad bring CD, DVD, video tapes, etc. to the DPRK
to facilitate “the study of English and other foreign languages.”
Pyongyang’s bowling alley has a sound proof basement where youths gather to chat and listen to music of all kinds.
There is also a bowling alley in the Yanggakdo Hotel.