September 26, 2022

Inside Chongjin: A Photo Essay

Chongjin was made famous last year as a result of Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy, a book that focuses on the lives of several individuals who lived in the city during the great famine of the early 1990s.  In Nothing to Envy, Demick paints the picture of a city suffering chronic decay, in which dead bodies filled the streets, children had to fend for themselves, and looters ransacked factories for spare parts.  Quite how bad it was, one will never know for sure - but it is clear from pictures recently acquired by NK News, that conditions in Chongjin appear to have fortunately improved since then.

Chongjin has been open to tourism for a while now and the following pictures, sent in by a reader, give a unique insight into conditions in the city in 2011.  Very few tourists get the opportunity to visit the city, so there are few pictures available online.  This is because it is relatively expensive (and difficult) to visit Chongjin.  Travel by road from Pyongyang is reported to take three days by road, or 27 hours by train.  Consequently, tourists must charter an aircraft from Pyongyang and fly to nearby Orang airport, a dual-use military airport located approximately an hours drive away.  Allegedly this flight is by no means cheap either, meaning just a handful of Westerners visit the city each year.