Turn Back the Clock Thursday
(Late Edition) - Wen Yu's
Mansion in Beijing

Site of the first North Korean Embassy in Beijing

In North Korea, the initial license plate numbers of foreign embassies’ cars are arranged in chronological order of states which officially recognized the DPRK. Thus, the license plates of the Russian Embassy, the heir of the Soviet Union, start with 01. Guess who is number 02? Poland. And China? To many people’s surprise, China’s number is 10 since the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was not established until more than a year after the DPRK. (To read more about license plates in the DPRK, see our: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the DPRK No.2.)

The USSR was also the first country to recognize the PRC, doing so one day after its proclamation at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on October 1, 1949. The DPRK recognized the PRC on October 6, 1949, the same day as Czechoslovakia and Hungry, but after Bulgaria and Romania. The DPRK’s embassy would eventually be established in Ritan Park area. However, for a time it was located in the Nan Luo Gu Xiang area, now a popular tourists street, in the former residence of Wen Yu (文煜; 1820-1884). Wen Yu was a Qing Dynasty official.

The mansion was built in 1861 and changed hands a number of times after the death of Wen Yu, before becoming the first DPRK Embassy in Beijing in 1949.

We learned about Wen Yu’s Mansion ant the North Korea connection on a recent ‘Warlord Tour’ by Newman Tours based in Shanghai, Beijing, and Xian. We would recommend this tour to anyone looking to ‘turn back the clock’ and look at some of China’s early 20th century history and the colourful and more unscrupulous characters who lived in that era.The tour takes place at night hence the poor photo.

You can see more photos of Wen Yu’s Mansion as it appears today on this Chinese blog.

Turn Back the Clock Thursday' brings you views from more than two decades of Koryo Tours' trips and adventures.This post was actually made on Friday morning.

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