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View more articles by Chad O'Carroll
Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
The city of Pyongysong, located approximately 35km northwest of North Koreas’s capital city, has opened to foreign tourists.
Koryo Tours, a Beijing based North Korea tour operator, announced Tuesday that the city had opened to tourism with attractions including a town square, Kim Jong Suk Higher middle school, Paeksong Revolutionary Site, and soon a plastic leather factory, beer factory, and schoolchildren’s palace.
“It seems to be up and coming and genuinely I got a good vibe off the place,” Robin Tudge, a tour guide at Koryo Tours, told NK News.
“It was surprisingly relaxed, so it seemed, there was a calm ambiance, the locals were all out in the light of the setting sun and they seemed healthy and happy,” Tudge added.
Pyongsong has a population of approximately 100,000 and according to the Federation of American Scientists, is home to an Atomic Energy Research Center and Pyongsong College – which contains a nuclear physics department. Some South Korean sources estimate that 5,000 to 6,000 staff are associated with these institutions, which combined would have a larger staff than the Yongbyon nuclear weapons production facility.
North Korea has been slowly opening up cities throughout the country to foreign tourists. This year, the northeasterly towns of Hoeyrong and Namyang opened up, as did access via the Tumen border.
In August North Korea announced that tourists would be welcome to visit the country throughout the year. Traditionally the country shut down to foreigners in for a period of several weeks during the peak of winter.
Photos courtesy Koryo Tours