An Old Film from
a 1933 Hunting Tour
in Northern Korea

Turn Back the Clock Thursday (on Friday) // See true 'rare glimpses' of northern Korea during the colonial era.

Late one night while searching the old Youtube, I came across an old silent ‘home video’ entitled ‘Korea Hunting Trip 1933’.

The film is approximately 15 minutes long and traces the participants, likely friends of the American missionary Rev. ‘Arch’ Campbell who is mentioned in the film, from their arrival to Korea by sea onwards to the remote mountains near Kanggye (Jp. Kokai) in northwest Korea. On their journey the pass through Seoul (Jp. Keijo), the colonial capital of Korea at the time, traveling northwards by the new rail line to Kujang (Jp. Kujo). This line was extended to Kanggye in 1934 and then onwards to Man’po on the Yalu River (Lautensach, 1942). The rail line still exists today and foreigners occasionally can take this train to visit Mt. Myohyang.

Much of the footage from this era available online depicts urban Korea near Seoul. It is quite rare to come across footage of the areas that would later become part of North Korea and especially such remote regions.There are some good shots of the northern Korean landscape and small villages at the time. However, much of the travel film is just a group of friends having fun on their vacation. I guess some things never change.

According to North Korean travel brochures from 1994, it was possible to arrange hunting trips to Chongdan County in South Hwanghae Province and Yonsan County in North Hwanghae Province (Foreign Language Press, 1994).

Today Kanggye Province, then part of North Pyong’an Province, is largely off limits to foreign travellers. It is possible to overnight in the city of Huichon on a visit to Mt. Myohyang.

Koryo Tours has never and does not intend to operate hunting tours to North Korea.

For those who do not want to watch the full silent film, here is an overview of all the caption slides:

Out 1922 Trip to Kokai, Korea, A Nimrod’s Paradise

Over the “Bounding Main” we go, to Korea’s Rocky Shores

We stop at Keijo (Seoul), the Capital, to shop and get our hunting licenses

After going by rail to Keijo, we entrain on a new railway to Kujo. Donkey engine, two freight cars and a coach for every class.

At Kujo, the end of the rails, we load out baggage into an open bus to motor 185 miles to Kokai.

Judge Lurton makes first kill of the trip by bringing down a fine dear near Kokai.

We go scouting out of Kokai to locate a camp.

And the next day we move into camp.

With beaters and gunbearers we hit the trail for the timberline.

“The author” waiting for something to happen

“Home sweet Home”

Off on another day’s shoot, in a snowstorm.

We stop to get warm

Members of mutual admiration club congratulating each other on missing eleven deer in one day

The mystery of the camp or “Who killed cock Robin?”

“Doc” Byram is proud of his whiskers.

Rev. “Arch” Campbell says his family won’t mind’em

And this fellow is proud of his, too

“Playing Bridge” on icy logs

The end.

'Turn Back the Clock Thursday' brings you views of Korea from more than two decades of Koryo Tours' trips to the DPRK and images in the public domain.

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