Kaesong

The centre of Kaesŏng

Kaesŏng (개성, 開城) is a city in North Korea, only 8 km from the DMZ with South Korea.

Understand

Kaesong is a small city but was a former capital of the Koryo Dynasty (9181392 CE) for several hundred years and was the only major city that changed hands between North and South Korea as a result of the Korean War.

It is becoming increasingly well-known for the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a "special economic zone", developed by Hyundai Asan with North Korea. In 2012 this special administrative industrial region had over 50,000 North Korean workers typically working for about 20% of the South Korean minimum wage in dozens of brand-new factories operated by more than 100 different South Korean companies. In April 2013, North Korea recalled all 53,000 North Korean workers from the Kaesong Industrial complex, effectively suspending all of its operations. In response, South Korea withdrew all of its citizens working in Kaesong and threatened to give up on the venture. In October 2013 there had been small yet positive steps by both sides to resolve the issues and eventually resume operations; on February 10, 2016, the South Korean Ministry of Unification shut down the joint project as the South Korean government believes it is serving as a source of hard currency to bankroll the North's nuclear weapons programme.

Twelve historic monuments and sites in Kaesong were inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013.

Get in

View from the South

On some of the DMZ tours in South Korea you can see Kaesong from the 'Ganghwa Peace Observatory'. You may see the occasional convoy of trucks bringing manufactured goods across the border into South Korea. You can not use your own camera, although coin-operated binoculars are provided.

The only realistic way to visit Kaesong is through an organized tour group from Pyongyang by highway, about two and a half hours away. This is often combined with a North Korean DMZ visit.

There are connections to South Korea via road and rail through the DMZ, although these routes are heavily restricted and limited to business and diplomatic traffic only.

In the past there were group tour buses running daily from Seoul (taking about 2 hours), however this was stopped by North Korea some years ago and it is unclear when they will become available again.

By rail, there is the relatively new   Kaesong Station (built with South Korean funds) however it appears currently not to be in use.

Get around

Visitors to the city must be accompanied by a tour guide, and all your travel will be arranged for you.

See

Nam Gate in Kaesong
Tomb of King Wanggon
Kaesong Old Town
Pakyon Falls

Buy

Souvenirs such as DPRK stamps, books written by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Il, and Korean handicrafts are available, and not expensive. Stores selling souvenirs accept US dollars, euros and Chinese yuan.

Ginseng is grown locally and is a particularly good buy both because of its quality and low price.

Eat

The Kaesong Folk Hotel also has a restaurant, as do the Foreigner Hotel at Puk Gate by the Pakyon Falls and the Janamsan Hotel near the Sonjuk Bridge.

Sleep

The majority of visitors are placed in the Kaesong Folk Hotel, which comprises traditional Korean houses and courtyards converted into a hotel. It has a small souvenir shop and restaurant. If you're not part of a tour group you might have the hotel all to yourself. It is located just a few blocks away from the Nam Gate.

Go next


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 05, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.