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.

Continue reading “Wonsan – The Drive from Hamhung and an Introduction”

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”

Mother Kim Jong-suk – From Kitchen Hand to Commander of Mt Paektu

Our primary reason for visiting the north east city of Hoeryong was to learn about Kim Jong-suk, one of the “three Commanders of Mt Paektu”, hero of the anti-Japanese revolutionary forces and mother to Kim Jong-il – the successor to North Korea’s first post Japanese occupation leader, his father Kim Il-sung. Continue reading “Mother Kim Jong-suk – From Kitchen Hand to Commander of Mt Paektu”

‘A Conversation With Oscar Wilde’

45This rather unorthodox memorial and tribute to a rather unorthodox man was unveiled on 30 November 1998 by Stephen Fry, who played Oscar Wilde in the 1997 film “Wilde”.

Entitled  ‘A Conversation with Oscar Wilde’ the memorial, in the form of a green granite sarcophagus and designed as a seat, depicts Oscar Wilde, one of the most brilliant and flamboyant literary figures in late Victoria London, emerging from his afterlife, cigarette (when it has not been stolen) in hand, ready to share his renowned wit and views on anything and everything with whoever cares to sit down and have a chat. Continue reading “‘A Conversation With Oscar Wilde’”

CC Kingston – Patriot and Statesman

19This rather pompous looking statue of Charles Cameron Kingston somewhat detracts from his achievements and lifestyle which were anything other than highbrow or pompous in nature.

I must say that on first seeing this statue I had not heard of Kingston and wasn’t going to bother writing a review. I make a point of not writing reviews on statues unless the subject is well known (to me at least!) or unless there is an interesting story to tell. With Kingston, having now read up on him, it is the latter. Do let me tell you about this interesting man. Continue reading “CC Kingston – Patriot and Statesman”

Robert Burns – For Auld Lang Syne


After a number of years fundraising and having (after seven years of asking) secured land from the Federal Government the Canberra Scots set about building a statue to the memory of the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns. No sooner had work on the statue commenced in 1935 then a bill for £4 10s, being the first annual land rent, arrived from the Government. This affront was not going to be taken lightly and the quick thinking and “generous” Scots promptly dispatched a honeyed note (or was it a poisoned chalice?) to the Government offering the statue to the people of Australia. The Government couldn’t refuse and on accepting it accepted that it had to pay land rent to itself. The canny Scots had their Burns statue and the government had been outfoxed. Continue reading “Robert Burns – For Auld Lang Syne”