The main draw of Samjiyon county is of course the famous Mt Paektu. The highest mountain in the region, this volcanic mountain is known well for its beautiful crater lake — Lake Chonji — and for its deep symbolic history to Koreans (and North Koreans in particular).
Getting there is, in itself, an adventure — currently the only possible way for Western tourists is to join a chartered flight from Pyongyang, which is usually an Antonov An-24 Turboprop plane.
There is more to Samjiyon, however, than Mount Paektu. Aside from the beautiful pine forests and charming little airport. The area also boasts a stunning but often overlooked monument.
Samjiyon Grand Monument
The Samjiyon Grand Monument was erected in 1979 and features a young General Kim Il Sung. A bronze-cast statue, it stands 15 meters high on top of a stone base that is 4.7 meters high. There are multiple statue groups around the main statue, with some even in Lake Samjiyon itself.
Altogether there are 84 human figures contained within the monument, as well as a small version of the Juche Tower. The monument is set in front of Samjiyon Lake with a large square in front, and pine trees all around, giving an excellent perspective on just how large it is.
The birthplace of General Kim Jong Il
Another major draw is the Paektusan secret base camp known in the DPRK as the birthplace of General Kim Jong Il (Though most Western historians conclude that he was born in Vyatskoye in Russia). Also in the region is the beautiful Rimyongsu Waterfall, located in a slightly rundown but nevertheless charming little town.
Finally, Samjiyon town itself is currently undergoing major reconstruction with the aim of it becoming a model mountain town for other counties to aspire to. The construction is expected to be completed by October this year right on time for Party Foundation Day on the 10th of October. Hopefully this will provide more options for tourists to the region in time for the 2020 Paektusan flight season.