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, July 1 (Xinhua) -- The newly completed terminal of Pyongyang International Airport, which the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) says is "a model edifice in the Songun era," was officially put into use starting Wednesday after a topping out ceremony held here in the morning.
The modern and spectacular airport terminal, which overshadows the one-story old one right next to it
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, is a three-story building plus an underground parking lot. The first floor was designed for international arrivals and second floor for departures.
Cars can also be parked on the open ground outside the terminal which is roughly estimated to be able to accommodate 100 cars.
On the top floor there are three restaurants offering totally different cuisines, including one European restaurant, one Asian restaurant and one Minzok (meaning "national") restaurant which features Korean-style food. The Asian restaurant even offers Peking roast duck at a price of 7 U.S. dollars.
While the other two are open for all visitors at the airport, the Minzok restaurant can only be accessed by passengers who have finished check-in procedures and gone through security check.
There are also shoe stores
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, coffee shops and stores selling electronic goods (both domestically-made and imported), toys and Korean traditional costumes. A woman's dress sells at about 80 U.S. dollars, cheaper than individually tailored dresses sold elsewhere in Pyongyang.
Coffee prices range from 2.5 dollars to 10 dollars (Cognac coffee) a cup. Coca cola and orange smoothies are offered for 0.5 dollars each.
A young barista named Kim Myong Won said he had been sent to Germany for a two-month training session to learn how to make coffee and cocktail before working here. The coffee maker was imported from Italy to ensure the quality of the coffee, he said.
Kim said he has acquired a qualification certificate and can speak some English for communication with international passengers. Most staff working here are able to speak English
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, Chinese or Russian in order to better serve the visitors, he added.
Also, there are shops offering photography services, cosmetics and skin care products and watches launched by Air Koryo (the only airline company in the DPRK) in collaboration with Swiss companies. Passengers can have the staff take a picture of them and print it out and frame it in crystal-clear glass to make it a souvenir in 30 minutes. The service is only available at the airport and Masikryong ski resort
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, the staff said. Prices range from 3 to 60 dollars.
The broad range of services are offered around the clock, said airport staff.
Visitors are not prohibited from taking photos in the terminal. Many DPRK families are busy taking pictures in the hall with big smiles on their face.
Bus and taxi hailing services are provided on the first floor. There is a currency exchange booth with exchange rates between several major currencies displayed on a screen on the wall, but the staff told Xinhua that the exchange service is not yet ready for passengers.
Passengers who just arrive here are allowed to purchase a SIM card capable of 3g network services and domestic phone calls, but the SIM card operated by Koryolink is only valid within the visitor's staying period. Visas are often checked for confirmation on how long one stays in the country.
For short-term visitors
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, it is suggested that they buy a SIM card that is effective for one week.
Around 4 p.m., passengers started to check in on the second floor for an Air China plane bound for Beijing. There are 12 counters in all, but only two are open for use, one for economy class and the other for business class. Passengers' luggage are not under intense scrutiny by the crew.
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, for international arrivals the entry inspection is more strict. Passengers are asked to register their cellphone type and the number of cellphones they carry with them. Laptops and other electronic devices like Kindle are also required to be opened for check.
Recently the DPRK foreign ministry has delivered a note to all diplomatic missions and global organizations in Pyongyang to inform that the DPRK will take more strict measures to prevent circulation of some unfavorable publications in the country.
A total of nine counters (plus one for the disabled) were all opened for immigration check and registration. There are two carousels in the baggage claim area and six security gates. A duty- free shop is open to provide liquors, Swiss chocolates and Korean specialties such as Ginseng liquor and cigarettes like 727, the most expensive domestic cigarettes in the DPRK.
Announcements are continually broadcast in three languages -- Korean, Chinese and English -- in the terminal hall to inform passengers of flight information.
Airport staff started working around 10:30 a.m. after a completion ceremony that began at 8 a.m. This is the first day that the new terminal has been put into use after the country's top leader Kim Jong Un inspected it a couple days ago and praised it as a gateway to the capital of Pyongyang "well built in harmony with modern aesthetic taste and national character."
According to the official KCNA news agency
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, the last time Kim visited the construction site of the terminal in late 2014, he criticized the construction work, noting that there were deviations in the interior layout and that facilities are not distributed to match the space of the terminal.
Kim, who expressed great satisfaction after touring around the new terminal
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, has called for constructing more buildings "symbolic of the thriving and highly-civilized country" for celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea in the upcoming October.
This year?s 24 Hours of Le Mans is expected to be a contest between the diesel-powered race cars fielded by Audi and Peugeot. As expected, the popular enduranc.
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