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17th May 2012 - DPRK Trip - day 6 - Hamhung

Day six of our adventure involved an early start to fly on a Tu-134 to the city of Hamhung on the eastern side of the country.

views of Pyongyang

It was a fast 25-minute ride on the “pocket rocket” and we landed at the airfield with upwards of 50 An-2 military aircraft lining the runway, plus another four performing circuits.

Tu-134 flight and sounds

The drive to the city was very agricultural, and at one point our pair of busses were seemingly driving directly at workers on bikes!

The rural landscape gave way to the city with was very industrial. During the Korean War the city was heavily destroyed and was built up again with the help of East Germany as an industrial city, and to this day is the main centre for chemical manufacturing in the DPRK.

views around Hamhung

We saw trains for the fist time on this trip, and also trucks that had been converted to burn wood, due to the fuel shortages.

After a brief tour of the city we checked into the Kumagangsan Hotel, where hot water was premium. We found our baths full of cold water and huge bucket full of hot water. Not knowing quite what to do with this, we retired to the bar!

We also visited the Mount Kumgang Resort, where four of our group had decided to stay, and the resort seemed very out of place here. Huge walls cut this complex off from the outside world and the plush hotel had its own private beach with golden sand.

I went for a walk along the beach outside our hotel later in the day and found that you could only walk so far before spying a soldier guarding the perimeter. They are probably there as much to keep you in, as well as to keep the riff-raff out!

Mount Komgang Resort and the Kumagangsan Hotel

For me this was a wasted afternoon of relaxation, as I’d much rather see more of the city. We consoled ourselves by drinking the local bottled beer, which had a distinct metal taste to it.