Exploring Chongsokjong, the stunning seaside site of North Korea. We hope that the destination will one day be open to tourists
On the east coast of the DPRK, just a short drive north of Mt. Kumgang sits a fascinating area commonly depicted in North Korean paintings and videos of iconic places of natural beauty around the country – this area is known as Chongsokjong (총석정– meaning roughly ‘concentration of rocks’).
Chongsokjong is one of those frustrating areas for Koryo Tours – we have made but one single visit there, and have been trying for a long time to gain access for tourists. Back in 2015 it seemed like it was about to happen, when we were invited to go and check it out to see how suitable it is (conclusion: very suitable!) and some local chaps gave us an explanation about how they planned to develop tourism infrastructure such as beach huts, fishing and pleasure boat trips, camping, etc – so far none of this has transpired but we remain ever-hopeful!
This area is characterized by the stunning basalt columns that rise out of the sea like stone sentinels. These are often shown on TV in the DPRK with waves smashing against them, sadly a scene that was missing on the calm-sea’d day of our visit. It is little bit like a Korean version of the Giant’s Causeway this is also a place for local families to come and picnic, for some researchers we ran into doing a survey of the flora of the area, and for fishermen to gather as well.
Many of the columns have some ancient graffiti on them to, in both Korean and Chinese characters. The Chinese are because this was the written language of Korea before the development of the Korean written system. Just like with the carvings done by early visitors at Persepolis and other significant sites around the world, this is a case of just having to wait long enough until vandalism becomes valid historical documentation.
There is also an ancient Korean myth of a general who wanted to access a cave – but was held back by the force of the waves, so he somehow formed these rocks into a barrier bridge and was then able to go to the cave. There is always a local myth when visiting Korea!
We’re hopeful that we can bring visitors to Chongsokjong in the near future. This would be for sightseeing, for leisure, for enjoying a bit of fishing, swimming, and seafood barbeque – and above all for continuing the mission of opening as much of the country as possible to visitors – see you there before too long!
Until then, you can enjoy this video promoting the area (despite the fact that tourists can't go there yet).
Updated 10 October 2018