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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Old Wonsan Train Station

When the fairly typical western style Wonsan (now Old) Train Station was opened in 1914 by the Chosen Government Railway it was certainly nothing special, indeed it was somewhat plain and utilitarian – unremarkable. A momentous event in 1945 would change its status for ever.

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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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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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