Browse the travel section of any bookstore and along with old reliables such as Michelin you’ll find a plethora of other titles and brands covering just about every destination and taste.

Surely the strangest addition to this genre is the two-volume “Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang,” edited by Philipp Meuser, a German architect and architectural historian. Strange because Pyongnang is unlikely to be on anyone’s “see before you die” list and because, even if it were, it’s not an easy place to see

 

…the city’s air of unreality derives in the main from the fact that Pyongyang is a suffocating propaganda hothouse where everything—the layout, buildings, monuments, billboards, signage—is designed to express the ideology of “Juche,” or national self-reliance.

Photo Credit: Ravaged by successive wars, the Pyongyang you see today is the result of centrally planned postwar reconstruction. Yeowatzup / Flickr.com