Overland from Pyongyang to Hamhung via the Ullim Falls

With the military and other celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s foundation, on the 9th of September, over it was time for us to head east for the first of two forays which would let us see a large part of this, much less frequently visited and scenically beautiful, side of the country. For this trip we started with a bus ride, 300 kms across the country giving us a wonderful introduction to this beautiful scenery and an insight into country life more generally. This review is a photo journal of my trip from Pyongyang to Hamhung, on the east coast of North Korea. Continue reading “Overland from Pyongyang to Hamhung via the Ullim Falls”

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National Gifts Exhibition House

Nearly everywhere in the world it is courteous and common practice to bestow gifts upon leaders and dignitaries on official visits. Also, gifts are commonly given and received on important national days, birthdays and such like.

While the North Korean Leaders (here I mean Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un and, oddly perhaps, Kim Jong-suk (wife of Kim Il-sung and mother to Kim Jong-il)) have travelled very little outside of North Korea and few leaders or high officials visit them from overseas they have managed to amass ‘hundreds of thousands’ of gifts since 1945. These have come from all corners of the world as well as from within North Korea – where the Leaders have travelled somewhat more, dispensing their trademark on-the-spot guidance and this, that and everything. Continue reading “National Gifts Exhibition House”

Taean ‘Friendship’ Glass Factory

In 2018 our route to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) on the border with South Korea took us via Nampo, North Korea’s west coast industrial city and home to the West Sea Barrage. En route to Nampo we stopped at the Taean ‘Friendship’ Glass Factory. No, we were not stopping there to see a glass blowing display or view their offering of cut glass or crystal in a gift shop. They don’t have a gift shop and we where there to see them making large sheets of plate glass for use in glazing windows. Who doesn’t enjoy a good old factory visit while on holidays? Continue reading “Taean ‘Friendship’ Glass Factory”

Pyongyang Trams and Observations from a Short Trip on the Kowngbok (Liberation) Line

Given the dearth of private vehicles in North Korea ordinary citizens rely on public transport to get around, where they cannot walk or cycle to their desired destinations. In Pyongyang public transport comprises a metro (underground) system, trams, trolley-buses and buses. This is supplemented by an increasing number of taxis but due to their extremely high cost, compared to other forms of public transport, they are really only an option for the upper and (growing) middle classes. Continue reading “Pyongyang Trams and Observations from a Short Trip on the Kowngbok (Liberation) Line”

The Kwangbok Department Store – Let’s Go Shopping

Unless in the middle of the night, when I arrive at any destination the first thing I do, having dropped off my bags at the hotel, is to go out for a walk in the neighbourhood. The walk will invariably lead to a coffee or another beverage suitable to the time of day or my mood and, if I come across one, a look through a market or shop. Not so in North Korea. Continue reading “The Kwangbok Department Store – Let’s Go Shopping”