The very first and last destination for all travelers visiting North Korea by train is Sinuiju Railway Station. The DPRK immigration and customs are also based at this station where the process of entering or exiting North Korea are conducted.
Introduction to Sinuiju Railway Station
Sinuiju Chongnyon Railway Station, also known as Sinuiju Youth Railway Station is a terminus station that ends at the Sino-Korean Friendship bridge to Dandong city in China.
It is the most important train station of North Korea as it handles the majority of tourists and freight entering and leaving the DPRK.
History of Sinuiju Railway Station
It was opened in 1911 by the Imperial Japanese Colonial Government only after a year after the Japanese had annexed the entire Korean peninsula. The railway station and the track line were operated by South Manchuria Railways.
After World War II the station came under the control of the DPRK administrated by the Korean State Railway. During the Korean War it was bombed multiple time by US allied forces, who also destroyed the Japanese colonial buildings, the track and the Sino-Korean Friendship bridge.
Following the restoration of that station, it was named Sinuiju Chongnyon station in honor of the Youth Shock Troops who helped with the rebuilding of the war torn station and city.
The old Sinuiju Station
In 2016 the station underwent further renovations which didn’t take place over the decades to provide a shelter over three platforms, and the station building was revamped with modern DPRK infrastructure. This was a bid to match Dandong Railway Station which constantly undergoes renovations each year.
Previous to the recent renovation to the railway station, there was a book/souvenir shop that tourists could enter and visit, as well as an East Berlin style draft beer bar on the second floor that you were not really supposed to visit, but could occasionally persuade the immigration officers.
Modern Sinuiju Station
Previously immigration officers would inspect your items on the train, now these days there are two large scanning machines installed inside the first floor of the station to scan bags for any reading materials or electronic devices. Electronic devices are simply counted, not usually checked by the officers.
There is a duty-free shop located near the entrance selling mostly North Korean products such as alcohol, cigarettes, and snacks. There are toilets located on the second floor with running water.
Staff have trolleys that are wheeled out to the platform selling items required for the train journey such as Taedonggang Beer, dried fish snacks, cheap Chinese snacks and water.