Kaesong, North Korea. Part2.

31 05 2009

Part 2 of our Kaesong Adventure.

Following our lunch at Tongil Restaurant it was time to recommence tourism duties. We piled back onto buses, us up back, minders up front. Another lecture on not taking photo’s of normal everyday street scenes, and off we went.

First stop (of the afternoon at least) was the Sungyang Seowon, a Confucian shrine and academy. Well, what used to be a Confucian shrine and academy. Now a museum to show to foreign tourists.

Sungyang Seowon crowds

Our tour guide around here (no English of course, but we had bits of it translated for us). They do say that North Korean women are more beautiful than those from the South.

North Korean Tour guide

Looking down into part of the academy, this guy seems to want us to not go up. Shame I was already at the top 🙂

Stop! You shall not pass

Confucian Insect?

Insect and Confucianism

Following our (brief) visit to Songyang we moved on again. This time no matter what our guides did they couldn’t avoid the classes of Elementary kids looking, waving and smiling at us. Unfortunately no pictures (sense a trend here?), but really they looked and acted much like South Korean kids, except for the red neck ties.

We moved on to another famous Kaesong sight, the Sonjuk bridge and Pyochung Pavilion.

Sonjuk bridge was built in 1290. It is famous for the assassination of a famous Confucian scholar called Jong Mongju, apparently on the orders of the Kings son, Yi Songgye. They claim that you can still see Jong Mongju’s blood where it stained the bridge red. Even if it is a small bridge it is one of the National Treasures of North Korea

Sonjuk Bridge, Kaesong

Of course being a national treasure, it deserves a “kimchee” photo.

Sonjuk Bridge, Kaesong

Just over the road from the Sonjuk bridge is Pyochung Pavilion which was built during the Joseon dynasty. A small wooden pavilion is home to 2 enormous stone stele standing on the back of huge stone turtles.

Entrance to Sungyang Lecture Hall ?

Wikipedia tells me that one stele was erected in 1740 by King Yongjo, the other by King Kojong in 1872. Both commemorate Jong Mongju’s assassination.

Turtle and stele, Kaesong North Korea

Drawing towards the end of our day, our final stop was the Goryeo Museum. A museum which which a bit interesting with old pottery and the like, was much more interesting on the outside, and within its gift shops.

A seven storied stone pagoda in front of much more modern communication towers.

Seven storied pagoda with more recent towers

A stone lantern.

Stone lantern in Goryeo Museum

And more interestingly, a dragon head jumping out of the sand infront of a pavilion.

Dragon Head in the Goryeo Museum, Kaesong

Following our visits to sights of Kaesong, it was time to head back. Not quite back to the South yet, a small drive through the Industrial Complex that is a join North/South venture. Interestingly it looked straight out a game of simcity, with large city blocks, a perfect traffic light network but no traffic, wide streets and footpaths with no pedestrians etc. Very much like the artificially constructed city that it is.

North Korean immigration was interesting, with specialised photo police who scan all your pictures and demand you delete any they don’t like or deem to be inappropriate. Guess nobody has told them that it aint rocket science to recover photo’s.

Returning to the South through the DMZ is a bizarre experience, back to the relative safety of South Korea, the country we call home.

Since we visited, relations between the North and South have disintegrated to the point where the tours are all stopped, the Industrial Complex is “on hold” and missile tests are happening 😦

Still, if you get the chance to visit, 100% recommended.

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