Kaesong, North Korea (Part 2)

So Jen and I have arrived in Mongolia, and there’s lots to say regarding our initial days here, but if I don’t write the second part about our second trip to North Korea now, it’ll never happen. And we also have our trip to Jeju too… soon!!!

A huge lunch was provided for us and although it
was absolutely delicious, I couldn’t help but wonder
about how the majority of North Koreans dine. Even
our servers, who get to see all this wonderful food
and watch as foreigners gorge themselves…

This was a common sight in the city. There are
virtually no cars on the streets, save for the occasional
city bus or military jeep.

Jen posing with the statue of the dear leader, Kim Jong Il.
We weren’t allowed to get any closer.

The city’s library.

We were allowed to “explore” the city of Kaesong and by explore, they mean we were allowed to walk up and down about a 100 meters of an empty street. I shouldn’t say that I was surprised though, as even allowing us to be there, within the city and having a view of North Koreans walking by – and that’s all we were able to see… people walking, biking, or riding a bus – this alone is quite a step for such a reclusive state.

Seeing the people and being exposed to a real, functioning city was the real draw of the tour, but for many South Koreans, there were other parts of the tour that held more significance than it did to us. We visited a temple (which we hiked to earlier in the day), the Pyochungbi Monument, the Seonjukgyo Bridge, and the Goryeo Museum.

The Seonjukgyo Bridge is nothing much to look at so at the time I didn’t bother taking a photo, but the events that transpired here were pivotal in Korean history. Kaesong was the capital city of Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty, which spanned from 918 to 1392. Jeong Mongju was a loyal subject of Goryeo and he was a great scholar, founding Eastern Neo-Confucianism. He was assassinated on the bridge by Yi Bangwong, who later became the third king of the Joseon Dynasty, and it is said that you can still see a blood stain from his assassination, which I did see. The assassination of Jeong effectively ended the Goryeo Dynasty and began the Joseon Dynasty, where the capital was moved from Kaesong to what is now known as Seoul.

Here I am at the Pyochungbi Momument. Well, actually
the enclosure surrounding the monument.

Jen with the actual monument. There are two turtles,
a female and a male. Males are supposed to rub the
female turtle’s nose for good luck while females
should rub the male’s nose for good luck. Get it
wrong and you get bad luck instead…

There was a lot to see on this trip and a lot more to talk about. The city seemed so run down in many ways. There was nothing new in the city, or rather nothing that looked new, as we did see some construction happening. Certainly, without a strong economy to fuel rampant growth that has occurred in so many other places, the history in Kaesong (and there is a lot of it, being the capital during the Goryeo Dynasty) is well preserved. The temples and museums actually *look* like temples and museums. Oh and we also bought some North Korean propaganda stamps at one of the souvenir shops. It’s rather ironic that they sell so much anti-American propaganda to Americans who buy them using American dollars. At any rate here are a few more select photos…

Here’s the department store, which, of course, was
not open. We were part of the sixth group to venture
to Kaesong and our guide told us that he’s never seen
it open. I’d be surprised to hear otherwise.

Here’s a photo down a little alleyway, which we were
probably not allowed to photograph, but there was
a good bit of surreptitious photography on this trip.
See the mountains in the background? It looks like
a pregnant woman lying on her back.

One of my photos shot from the hip (in tribute of Trevor!)
of a city street that we were not supposed to photograph.

Here’s a crop from the above photo. You can see
guards in the jeep watching all of us. He obviously
wasn’t doing a very good job, or maybe he just didn’t
realize I can still push the shutter release even if I
don’t hold the camera to my eye…


~ by dawseng on August 22, 2008.

4 Responses to “Kaesong, North Korea (Part 2)”

  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.

    Tim Ramsey

  2. These are great! So I’m curious… did they tell you that the mountain looked like a pregnant woman lying on her back, or was that just a random Jeff observation?!

    Miss you guys!

  3. […] Kaesong, North Korea (Part 2)So Jen and I have arrived in Mongolia, and there’s lots to say regarding our initial days here, but if I don’t write the second part about our second trip to North Korea now, it’ll never happen. And we also have our trip to Jeju too… … […]

  4. As much as I would like to take credit for finding something so cool, my powers of observation are not that keen. In fact, they are rather quite the opposite, as Jen will readily attest to!!! So yeah, the guides told us.

    It would have been a cool Jeff observation though huh? Alas…

    Miss you lots too!

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