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North Korea -> Kaesong
Kaesong     
Hwanghaebuk-Do Province

To see a North Korean brochure on Kaesong in Adobe pdf click on this hyperlink “Kaesong

Kaesong was the capital of the Koryo dynasty from 918-1392 AD. Koryo was the first unified state on the Korean peninsula. The name Kaesong means the opening of the castle gate. It was also called Songak, Kaegyong, Hwangdo and Kaeju. It still has many historical relics and sites from the Koryo period, although many are just ruins or not readily accessible, including Manwoldae, the old royal palace during Koryo.

Kaesong is located 99 mi./160 km. from Pyongyang by road or rail, although most visitors go by road. It should also be noted that Kaesong is located just north of the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) in North Korea, 47 mi./70 km. from Seoul by road or rail. From August, 1945 until the Korean War it was part of South Korea, lying south of the 38th parallel. When the dust settled at the end of the war it was in North Korean territory and was closed to visitors from the South.

The Pyongyang-Kaesong expressway was opened on April 12, 1992. There are some scenic and historic sites along the way, including some ancient walls built during the Koryo period; Songbul Temple, erected in 898 AD, on Mt. Jongbang (also written as Mt. Chongbang); and dinosaur footprints near the Ryonggung Tunnel. Approximately half-way to Kaesong is the Sohung Tea House, or oasis where you can stop for refreshments. Kaesong is also famous for the quality of its insam or ginseng. Promotional literature states that “…pharmacologically the Koryo insam of Kaesong is incomparably better than other kinds of ginseng owing to the particular soil and water conditions and the meteorological factors peculiar to the Kaesong area and the singular methods of cultivation and processing employed.”

Kaesong is also the starting point for any visit to Panmunjom in the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ).

It should also be noted that as of December, 2007 Kaesong was opened for special day-tours from Seoul operated by Hyundai Asan. Anyone can now visit "North Korea", meaning Kaesong, from Seoul any day of the week except Mondays. These tours go from 6:00 am to about 6:00 pm and cost about $225-250 per person, including a shuttle bus from Seoul to the starting point, depending on the day of the week, the season and the exchange rate. Unfortunately at present the tours are only in Korean, although we can provide tour information in English. To see a flyer on Kaesong tours in Adobe pdf click on this hyperlink “Kaesong Tour Flyer

Asia Pacific Travel, Ltd. is a General Sales Agent for Hyundai Asan and can book these tours for clients. Please note, however that they are very popular with South Koreans so you need to book weeks, if not months, in advance. This is also to be sure to be included in the group visa forms required on the tour.

In the last few years the Hyundai Asan company of South Korea has also negotiated with the North Korean government to establish a special economic zone in Kaesong, called the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The idea is for South Korean and other foreign companies to set up factories in this special area using the less expensive North Korean labor force. As of 2008 72 factories have already been set up, with 50 more under construction, using over 30,000 North Korean workers, and are producing goods that are shipped to South Korea for distribution and sale. This is significant in that this means there are now daily crossings of the DMZ by hundreds of mostly South Korean business people. At present these crossing are done by road, but in December, 2007, a newly renovated rail line, the Gyeonggui Line that historically went all the way up through Pyongyang along the west coast to Sinuiju on the Chinese border, was reopened between Kaesong and Seoul to facilitate the flow of freight and eventually passengers. If this link is completely opened it would provide a direct rail link from South Korea to Europe via rail for at least freight, cutting the time to ship goods from Busan to Hamburg from over 25 days by sea to about 9 days. Longer term there are also hopes for the reopening of regular rail service along the east coast of Korea that would link up to the Russian Trans-Siberian railroad.

To see a North Korean brochure on Kaesong in Adobe pdf click on this hyperlink “Kaesong

Asia Pacific Travel, Ltd. • P.O. Box 350 • Kenilworth, IL 60043-0350 USA
Tel: 1-(847) 251-6400 • Toll Free: 1-(800) 262-6420 • Fax: 1-(847) 256-5601
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