Pyongsong has been open for a while, but only for hotel stays at the Jangsusan Hotel when Pyongyang is booked out. Now it’s open wide up with visits possible to the Kim Il Sung Wartime University, the Paeksongri Foodstuffs factory and the Kim Jong Suk Middle School Number 1 as well as a visit to the statue of president Kim Il Sung and the central square.
Our National Day Returners group were one of the first to visit the city and we were all pleasantly surprised with a very diverse day long itinerary. Pyongsong is often called a mini DPRK by the Koreans as it has a very diverse economy for such a small region. It’s also a scientific centre for the nation, with lots of research centres and universities.
First we visited the wartime university which is the location selected for Kim Il Sung University during the war so the students could continue their studies in a safer region than Pyongyang. Some of the buildings have been preserved (or rebuilt) and there is also a statue commemorating the visits by the President there. Some of the mosaics and propaganda posters there are also worth a look. Next was the foodstuffs factory which specialises in corn products ranging from cakes, candy, soft drinks (Using high fructose corn syrup, they’re not corn flavoured, unfortunately). The level of automation there was quite impressive. After that it was lunch at the Jangsusan Hotel, with time for a couple of draft beers at the outdoor bar in the courtyard. We then headed off to the middle school, where we toured the school and then dropped into a class, where one of our braver Pioneers Julien took the opportunity to teach an impromptu class, which he did an impressive job of and the students were very pleased to have a chance to talk with him.
All in all, it’s an excellent itinerary with a great variety and being only 40 minutes from Pyongyang may become a much more regular stop. We’re hoping they will soon open up the Ponghak brewery to finally provide a replacement for the now closed to tourists Taedonggan brewery and news looks good, so stay tuned!