Picking a favorite anything is hard – unless the favourite in question is ‘best Star Wars character’, in which case Supreme Leader Snoke wins hands down – but if I was pushed to pick a favourite place in North Korea, it would be Wonsan.
But why male models Wonsan?
There are many reasons to love Wonsan, but I personally feel, as a former seaman (I worked at sea – not a ‘semen’ gag), I have a real love for coastal cities. Alas, when I worked as a bartender on P&O cruises we did not visit Wonsan – or, indeed, the DPRK – which is a shame.
There’s tonnes of great stuff to do when you visit the North Korean city of Wonsan; beaches, live sushi, a lighthouse, statues of the leaders, the Wonsan Young Pioneers’ camp, and Wonsan Port.
Ports generally bore most people, but having spent a year docking in places like Civitaveccia I have a love for these weird industrial outposts. Ports are basically a country’s window to the world, and Wonsan is North Korea’s most important port (certainly for trade). It also previously served as the main link between Japan’s Chongryon Koreans and the DPRK, and was served by a ferry called the Mangyong 92.
The Japan connection
The Mangyong 92 linked Wonsan to the Japanese port of Nigata from 1971 until the Japanese government banned it in 2006, with no indication that the route would reopen. In 2018, the same ship carried a North Korean delegation to the South Korean port of Mukho. In its heyday a first-class ticket would have cost $1500 –not exactly chump change.
Nowadays, Wonsan resembles more of a sleepy seaside town; this adds, rather than detracts, from its charm in this writer’s humble opinion. In fact it’s very much worth taking a longer tour just to see it up close and personal!