North Korean Arcade is a Blast from the Past
October 21, 2009 | by Lycurgus

North Korea is an enigma. Not many people know what goes on past the DMZ, though speculation has it that Kim Jong-Il, the country’s diminutive and reclusive leader, is a fantastic golfer.

This is given credence to the fact that other forms of entertainment, such as arcades, are still stuck in the 70s.

As a series of photos reveal an arcade in the capital Pyongyang that has yet to acquire the next generation of video games or Skeeball, we’re left to wonder: how can anyone survive without Dance Dance Revolution?

Arcade 1

The images reveal an arcade of times past, where the cabinet’s are rusty, the directions worn off, and the buttons most likely don’t work. Although the games are unidentifiable due to a lack of any distinguishing characteristics, it’s clear they’re from an era time forgot.

Arcade 2

The images do not have a credit attached, as the individual who took them had wished to remain anonymous, presumably because any unauthorized photography from across the DMZ would anger the fearless leader.

Arcade 3

Arcade 4

Arcade 5


  • holy jesus.. somebody give them atleast a PS1…

  • woah.

    oh rak gwan.
    in south korea, arcades are known as oh rak shil.
    i've heard of a lot of differences/similarities in terms of the language, it's interesting to see it in reality.
    i'm not sure which vowels this applies to, but north koreans pronounce certain vowels in different ways as opposed to how the south koreans pronounce them.

    and that place needs more pizazz!

  • If they can't get a PS1, at least get them a N64 or something… Jesus I feel spoiled now.

  • and to think that their are just beside the MOST connected country in the world (South Korea)…

  • I was in an arcade in Jakarta in 2002…it looked a lot like this, and cost about the equivalent of 2 cents to play the games!

  • The last photo has a bunch of JAMMA cabs, so they at least got somewhere into the mid-80s. (I'm not sure what brand those cabs are, but they certainly aren't relics–like the leadership of N.K.–from another age.)

  • …give them a dreamcast or somethin…

  • Yeah, I think he gets it.

  • Can't imagine the life with ony that kind of video games… should put on some photos of South Korea for contrast

  • That is really amazing I am a South Korean in America and to see that they have an arcade in North Korea is interesting. Is it the only arcade in North Korea??? Where are all the kids that should be there??I am a true classic arcade fan I wonder if they have any really unique or rare arcades there that they dont know about. One of the most interesting things that I have seen here.

  • Wow, those are some old arcade games!

    You should check these out:

  • I'm Korean in Seoul, Korea, I think the N. Korean government made the situation of pics for showing how many people are enjoying games by using people. ;) Lockes of the game machines are rusted. That means it's just for showcase I think. People of pics might not need to put coins into the machines.. Whatever. I just hope they would be free from N. Korea's ideology. As you may know the Korean characters on game machines of the pictures, all games are relevant on War for growing up ppl's agression. lol

  • OldSkool!! The game machines look so cool. I have a vintage pinball machine myself, i find these games quite interesting.

    Chris H
    Designer @ Cheap Web Design

  • the real game is seeing how long you can play one of those before the machine dies and needs to be repaired for the next player

  • Oh, man. Back in 1972, I loved that submarine game where you try to torpedo the ships by aiming the periscope. I wanna go to North Korea and relive the 1970's!

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