EAST SEA – port of Wonsan, DPRK

East Sea, Wonsan, DPRK

ice-breaker PICKINGS from my NORTH KOREAN DIARY 11.–21. April 2011

Army girls strolling back from the little island

On the way to a mini island which is not on our itinerary I approach three army girls strolling back from the light tower.

There is no life in North Korea…without at least two guides. Behind Ursula – in front of her walks Tong Hui, our female guide – I cross the small footbridge with our male guide in tow.

I follow them with our male guide behind me

In front of Ursula walks Tong Hui, our female guide.

The footbridge leads us to the landing stage of the fishing boats. People are not particularly friendly, we have to pay 1 Euro to cross the footbridge. Our guides don’t want to go further. But we do. They have no instruction to visit the island and no budget. I pay one Euro.

...a minuscule black market...

The female divers we meet along the gangway to the lighthouse are camera shy, their men, for whom they work, are openly hostile, the girls who sell drinks don’t want to be photographed.

She sells drinks

I have an idea...

Slowly I get it: we have entered a minuscule black market!

Less than happy...

To brake the “icy climate” I have an idea. I buy a big bag full of shells for the mother of Tong Hui! As we say in German I get “Zwei Fliegen auf einen Schlag”: the locals suddenly warm up and our female guide is surprised. She is excited, sea shells in Pyongyang are hard to come by – and a foreigner who makes a present to her mother, that has never happened to her and her mother before.

Having lunch  in a nearby restaurant at noon, I tell my guide to get ice. “Ice, why ice?” she asks. She didn’t understand what I wanted the ice for  – and I assumed the kitchen had ice in the fridge. The restaurant had a fridge but no electricity during the day…

“No ice?” Our driver had no problem with that. He put the bag in the trunk of our car… .

Two days later, back in Pyongyang, I cautiously asked Tong Hui if her mother was fine. My worries were completely unfounded. The sea shells were a real “ice-breaker”. Something little in the “chemistry“ had suddenly changed.

Port of Wonsan

3 Responses to EAST SEA – port of Wonsan, DPRK

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