Several times a month, a train goes through North Korea from Pyongyang, the capital, to the Sinai-Russian border, in the coastal city of Rason.
Traveling from Pyongyang to Rason represents an opportunity to discover a more authentic facet of the country. Behind the train window, landscapes go by, —verdurous valleys and hills, undamaged forests, harvested fields, immaculate coastlines, akin their wild state —, where only few modern buildings come to disturb this view. Build on the soviet model from the 60’s, the train quite rudimentary, is kept in good conditions for the needs of the tourists, while the inhabitants work the land and ride by bike.
Tourism is still a specific and controlled activity; travelers are supervised by authorities whose dictate steps to take all the trip long; isolated in a wagon dedicated to foreigners, they do not have any contact with the North-Korean population; and in Rason, passports are carefully scrutinized. Nonetheless, this special economic zone, intrinsically link to international opening due to its contiguity with Russia and China, is an exception: getting there gives travelers freedom of movement again and the opportunity to become familiar with the population.
Davide Monteleone traveled through the Pyongyang-Rason train line, and describes the daily life of Nord-Korean inhabitants, as well as the unknown landscapes.