Tonghung Hill – The Eternal Leaders in Hamhung

If you need a hill, overlooking the city, preferably at the end of one of its main avenues, on which to erect massive statues of the Great Leader and, later, the Dear Leader and you don’t have one, what do you do? Well, naturally you build one, and especially so in North Korea.

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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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Pujon Stone River and Revolutionary Site

After what turned out to be a four hour drive from Hamhung (as opposed to the expected three), due to problems with one of our buses we arrived at the entrance to Mt. Ongryon park in the Pujon Highlands, one of the ‘Eight Great Sights of Korea’.  Here we met our local guide for our short walk to the Stone River and to some very special trees.   The bus trip, which I have written about in two separate reviews (Part A HERE and Part B HERE), while at times gruelling, was scenically beautiful and gave us some insight into everyday life (road maintenance in particular!) in this remote and rarely visited part of North Korea.

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Driving from Hamhung to Pujon County, North Korea – Part B

This is Part B of my review on my bus trip from Hamhung to Pujon County, through some of the most scenic parts of North Korea, affording us glimpses of this scenery and of everyday life in this rarely visited part of the country. If you have not read Part A then I suggest you do so, particularly as it includes a commentary on why I have chosen to publish a number of photographs which are possibly in contravention of North Korean rules on photography.

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Driving from Hamhung to Pujon County, North Korea – Part A

The main activity for our second day in the Hamhung area was a trip to an amazing stone river at Mount Okryon in Pujon County together with a look at some very special trees which played an important part in the fight to end Japanese colonial rule in Korea. In this review (in two parts) I will cover our bus trip from Hamhung to Pujon County, three hours each way, through some of the most scenic parts of North Korea, affording us glimpses of this scenery and views of everyday life in this rarely visited part of the North Korea. Continue reading “Driving from Hamhung to Pujon County, North Korea – Part A”

Hamhung Overview – Part B – Sightseeing incl Shots from the Window of a Bus

In Part A of this review I focused on a general overview of Hamhung and its history, in particular its development as an important industrial centre and port. I also briefly covered the city’s destruction as a result of American blanket bombing in the early part of the Korean War and the (disproportionately) horrific impact that the mid to late 1990s famine had on the city. The city and its people have been slow to recover from these events and for this reason it was off-limits to foreigners until around 2010. Continue reading “Hamhung Overview – Part B – Sightseeing incl Shots from the Window of a Bus”

Hamhung – Overview Part A – Introduction and Background

Hamhung, on the east coast of North Korea, is the country’s second largest city and a major industrial centre and port. It is the capital of South Hamyong Province and has a population of nearly 800,000 or less than a third that of the capital, Pyongyang which lies some six to eight hours away by road and much more by train. It took me ten hours to get there as we had a couple of scheduled stops, and one unscheduled one, along the way. Continue reading “Hamhung – Overview Part A – Introduction and Background”

Hungnam Fertiliser Factory – Hamhung, North Korea 


Like everyone else, I had hoped that after our tiring though eventful ten hour bus trip from Pyongyang to Hamhung we would call it a day and head for our hotel. That was not to be. The day’s itinerary showed that we still had a fertiliser factory to visit and, notwithstanding that we were running a couple of hours late, visit it we did! Continue reading “Hungnam Fertiliser Factory – Hamhung, North Korea 
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