Tag Archives: Alan Only

North Korea Day Two (Aug. 29)

4 Oct
Apologies for the delay but between poor internet immediately after North Korea, going trekking and then losing all my North Korea notes while trekking, I’m only getting around to this now.

The second day was a feast of North Korea statues, monuments, museums, galleries and generally being impressed by North Korean building feats. Our tour started by first getting lost. We were going to the National Gift Museum but we took a handful of wrong turns which lead to many U-turns but eventually we made it to a museum where there were a huge array of presents and gifts that Koreans from all around the world had made to country. A lot of them were from China and Russia but there were some random American and Canadian ones too, which interestingly had images of Indians on them. Unfortunately there were no cameras allowed in there.

Then we went back into the city to take the subway for a few stops. Supposedly it’s one of the deepest subways in the world and I was told it’s exceptionally unique, as unlike other subways around the world, this one does not come above ground at any point. For the few stops that I got to see it was well decorated with plenty of murals dedicated to the past President Kim Il Sung. He is the founder of North Korea and still worshipped like a god. I think the biggest surprise for me was that the subway was actually used. Each train was full of people going about their business and a little like the Seoul subway the capacity limit was only reached when you physically couldn’t put another body on the train. Each stop had either statues or huge images of Kim Il Sung on the walls with the other images of people gazing at him.

From there we went to the main statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Jong Il’s statue was only put up in April so they put that together pretty fast considering he passed away in December. I would later discover that everything was made or built in about half the time that they had forecasted‚Ķvery impressive workers!! The statues are phenomenal though, pictures don’t really do them justice in terms of the size and scale of them.

During the drives between each of the sites, Amy began to ease and i realized that the other two really couldn’t pick up on anything I was saying so I casually dropped into a conversation that I had lived and worked in South Korea. She didn’t really say much at the start but as the day wore on her curiosity grew. I’m sure she’s had people who’ve lived or worked in the South before but I guess the stories never get old.

I was then brought to North Korea’s proudest attraction, the U.S. Pueblo. It was a spy boat that they captured in the 60s. The Americans tried to pass it off as a shipping vessel but that story proved hard to continue when all sorts of weaponry and recording equipment were found on board. The U.S personnel onboard eventually confessed what they were doing and were made write formal apologies to the DPRK but the U.S refused to accept their confessions as truth. The North Korean solider who showed me around the boat boasted of how only a small number of North Korean navy personnel (I think 6 or 7) took control of this ship that had around 60 American ‘spies’ onboard. The American government wanted the ship back but the North refused and held onto it as a trophy prize of their famous victory. On December 23 1968 an official apology was written on behalf of the American Government.

After countless statues and attractions it was finally dinner time where I was able to talk to Amy again. I had to tread carefully because I sensed that sometimes I annoyed my guide a bit, so I’d always followed that up with something boring or silly about the South. But one thing that I did find interesting from all her answers was that she has no ill feeling towards the people in the South. She always referred to the peninsula as one which unfortunately happened to have a line drawn across it. Her main question to me was why America had come all this way to split a country that they had no major interest in. The biggest difficulty I had was that if someone grows up their entire life being told that the colour of grass is red and they’ve never had to question that or were allowed to question that, how do you explain to them that they were lied to? She was always interesting to talk to, though, quite refreshing really. She explained to me that in her opinion both sides had to put away the guns and find a way to re-unify the country but would always remind me that the North would respond to provocation from the South‚Ķwith lethal force!