The Kim Jong Suk Middle High School – Pyongsong

After lunch at the  Jangsusan Hotel it was off to school, the Kim Jong Suk Middle High School, one of the classier schools in the county, for gifted children. Gifted children in North Korea will always be from families with higher ‘songbun’ or status within the country – academic ability on its own being insufficient to meet the criteria.

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Pyongsong en route to Mt Myohyang

When I visited Mt Myohyang (best known as home to the International Friendship Exhibition) in 2014 we went there directly from Pyongyang and returned to the city with no stops en route, in either direction.  In 2018 we had a few stops on the way up in South Pyongan Province and one, in North Pyongan Province, on our return to Pyongyang.

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En Route to Mt Kumgang

Leaving Wonsan, unlike most visitors who return west to Pyongyang or head north to Hamhung, we took the coastal road south to the Mt Kumgang region. This mountainous region borders with South Korea along the infamous demilitarised zone (DMZ) which is ironically one of, if not, the most militarised areas in the world. Tourist access to the DMZ on this side of the country is not possible.

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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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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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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”

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 
”

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”

Kim Ki-song Hoeryong First Middle School – Children of the Revolution

On arriving into Hoeryong from Chongjin our first stop was the Kim Ki-song Hoeryong First Middle School, one of the country’s more prestigious secondary schools catering to the offspring of the city’s Nouveau riche. It is named after the revolutionary brother of anti-Japanese war heroine Kim Jong-suk, wife of Kim Il-sung and mother to Kim Jong-il. Continue reading “Kim Ki-song Hoeryong First Middle School – Children of the Revolution”

Pyongyang Railway Station

Personally, I think Pyongyang’s Railway Station is one of the most beautiful buildings in North Korea but then again I have a thing about railway stations. While many of the high rise buildings built, at the speed of Chollima, in the city in the last five years or so may be as aesthetically pleasing, in their own ways, I wonder about their potential longevity. Continue reading “Pyongyang Railway Station”