“entering DPRK” by rail

UNCENSORED PICKINGS from my NORTH KOREAN DIARY 11.–21. April 2011

On my upper bunk bed of Sleeper Car Nr.12 I kept my camera rolling from the Chinese-North Korean border to the capital Pyongyang.

DPRK Railway, from the Chinese border to Pyongyang

These are some shots from my film “entering North Korea”.

Photo from my upper bunk bed in Sleeper Car Nr.12

We are traveling at 30-50km/h, the railcar window is dirty and locked but the landscape is fascinating.

My eyes are glued to the window

Huge rivers, bridges, rice fields. My eyes glued to the window, oxen pass by pulling carts and ploughs, people with shovels cultivating  the field right up to the rail tracks and roadside preparing for the planting season. I see no mechanized help beside one tractor. I keep to myself while I’m filming, the two Chinese business brothers in our compartment are sleeping.
“entering DPRK” was shot on DPRK Railway Sleeper Car Nr.12 from my upper bunk bed and shows uncensored footage from the Chinese border to the capital Pyongyang of North Korea.

He is tilling the soil with his ox close to the rail tracks

It is a train journey full of thought-provoking “Langsamkeit”.

Dry riverbed - view from my upper bunk bed

NORTH KOREAN CUSTOMS at DONGAN

End of China - we cross over the river to DPRK - attraction point for the Chinese

iPHONE PICKINGS from my NORTH KOREAN DIARY 11.-21. April 2011

FOUR AND A HALF HOURS it took us to pass customs control from China to North Korea.

DPRK customs official comes to railcar Nr.12

It was not a pain in the neck, not at all, it just took time.

As we entered Dongan border station, there was a load of Chinese business men flooding our two railcars each with a mountain of luggage. We got two brothers into our compartment, both double my weight (I’m 95 kilos). They filled every corner with packages of all sizes.

Railway station in DPRK with portrait of KIM IL SUNG - Military hardware on a rail car

Then the maneuvering of our two rail cars took about 30 minutes, I counted 17 times back and forth till they were positioned on the right tracks to attach them to the North Korean train and move the train to the North Korean Customs.

iPhone wrapped in brown envelope and sealed with transparent tape by Dongan Customs, North Korea. Text by Customs official: GPS 2011.4.21

A Korean war photo in the "Korea Handbuch" aroused the suspicion of our French speaking customs official much more than than my professional video camera, my three photo cameras or my computer

The Chinese business guys had kind of a “Schlepper“ who immediately made contact with the customs officials but for the two brothers in our compartment it didn’t help much, because, as we soon found out, the customs official wanted to practise his french with Ursula. “Brosse à dent“, “nécessaire de toilette“ etc, she had to repeat every item in French.

He finally got to my iPhone, which really perplexed him. Several times he made a sign with his hand to the sky, meaning “something“ could descend from the clouds at any time and reveal top North Korean nuclear secrets. He wanted to learn all sorts of things about this hellish machine till his superior came and told him to finish, so he wrapped my iPhone in an envelope, wrote GPS on it and sealed it about ten times with transparent tape and gave it back to me.

In between French conversation he cut open the small, medium and large packages of our two Chinese businessmen with a Swiss! “Victorinox“ army knife, a present from a Swiss traveler.

The four hour long check was rather superficial, it was all more about the curiosity of our customs official to learn as much as possible about the items we carried he had not seen before and brushing up his French. Computer, 3 cameras, Sony professional video did not arouse much interest. But a historical photo or two from the Korean war in a travel book aroused his suspicion and made him turn the book leaf by leaf for a full hour and also got his superior involved.