I entered North Korea on a 24 hour train ride which consisted of two parts. A Chinese part from Beijing to Dandong (Chinese border town) and a North Korean part from Dandong to Pyongyang (the capital of North Korea). The Chinese train ride was okay, although a little long, and I soon stepped into the train to North Korea with a bunch of North Koreans and Chinese people aboard. The mood was good and there were some copies of the DPRK national magazine available for reading (just don’t fold, please). It did take a while for the train to leave station because a most friendly DPRK customs officer invited every passenger separately to empty all their bags and suitcases and show him every single item. He was struck by curiousity by the flaslight in my suitcase, but the rest of my items were fine, even my smartphone, which he just took a glance at and wrote the brand down. We soon left for the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
The first glances at “the country behind the border” where sad ones. A friendship bridge between North Korea and China which was bombed during the Korean war and still hasn’t been repaired, and a worn down themepark, quickly followed by a swimming park in which more than a few Koreans were enjoying themselves.
The train ride from Dandong to Pyongyang took quite a while, mostly due to the bad rail roads (which originate from the time of the Japanese occupation of Korea) and the extensive immigration control at the North Korean border town of Sinujiu. But this made the train ride no less enjoyable. There was a good mood aboard and everyone was either playing games, relaxing, or enjoying the best food I’ve ever eaten on public transport, in a soviet-style diner carriage.
After a few more hours of North Korea’s beautiful countryside with the greenest grass I’ve ever seen, we entered Pyongyang train station and I soon set foot into the world’s most secretive state. Three Korean guides were waiting to introduce themselves. Adventure ahead!