An Evening Promenade – Jongdok Islet, Wonsan

Wonsan has been an important port since it was established in around 1880, primarily for trade with Japan. In 1919, during their occupation of the Korean Peninsula, the Japanese further developed the port and built a causeway/breakwater out to Jangdok Islet on which they built a lighthouse – for the protection of the harbour and shipping, mainly their own.

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Songdowon International Children’s Camp, Wonsan

With all the current restrictions in place, around the world, I imagine many parents being at a loss as to how to amuse ‘their unruly kids’, or ‘their little darlings’, depending on the parent’s perspective. Well here is something that may not have immediately sprung to mind. How about packing them off for a couple of weeks at the Songdowon International Children’s Camp in Wonsan, North Korea?

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Wonsan Central Square and the Mangyongbong 92

Given a fairly tight schedule in Wonsan we only had time for a brief stop in the city’s central square, surprisingly not to formally visit and pay our respects at the statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il but rather to see a ferry which, apart from a few ‘special runs’, has lain unused here, by the dock, since 2006.

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Sleeping and Eating in Wonsan, North Korea

In 2014 Kim Jong-un embarked on a programme to massively increase international tourism into North Korea, it being one of the few ways in which foreigners could (and can) legally engage with the country, most other avenues being frustrated by US lead international sanctions. Separately the United States barred, and continues to bar, its citizens from travelling to North Korea, except under very limited circumstances.

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Wonsan – The Drive from Hamhung and an Introduction

Pyongyang is often referred to as a showcase capital, for good reason. Anyone who is anyone lives in Pyongyang, anyone who is not anyone is only permitted to enter the city under special circumstances and they certainly cannot live there. The infrastructure, buildings, services and facilities are the best North Korea can offer.

With a few noted exceptions, North Korea outside Pyongyang is a different world but it is a world that is changing, albeit slowly. While only the fifth largest city with a population of around 365,000, Wonsan, in terms of recent development, comes (a distant) second to Pyongyang.

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Hamhung Royal Villa and Yi Seong-gye

When many people think of North Korea they actually think of one or more of the Kim ‘Dynasty’ Leaders, as opposed to the country itself. This ‘dynasty’, now ruling for seventy-two years and counting, began on 9th of September 1948 with the appointment of Kim Il-sung as President of the newly created Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Though never envisaged by anyone that the DPRK would become a dynasty, on Kim Il-sung’s death in 1994 he was succeeded by this son Kim Jong-il who in turn was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un in 2011.

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