samjiyon

Introduction

Samjiyon is a city in the far north of the DPRK in Ryanggang Province. The city serves as the gateway to Paektusan (Mt Paektu) which is considered a sacred spot throughout Korea. For this reason, Samjiyon has a dedicated airport primarily used for tourists, foreign and domestic, visiting the mountain.

2019 Redevelopment

In 2019, the entire city was renovated; DPRK media described the new city as the "epitome of modern civilisation". The city's new buildings were designed with the same architectural style as some of the DPRK's other modernisation projects such as Ryomyong and Mirae streets in Pyongyang. As part of this redevelopment, Samjiyon was officially promoted from a 'township' to a 'city'.

The Korean Central News Agency reported that during the construction period "Over 380 blocks of public and industrial buildings" were built. This included a brand new hotel, a hospital and a new ski slope.

The city reopened in December 2019 during a large-scale celebration with the Marshal Kim Jong Un in attendance.

Samjiyon in winter
Statue of President Kim Il Sung

Paektusan Secret Camp

Aside from nearby Paektusan, the main driver of tourism to the region, Samjiyon is in close proximity to the 'Paektusan Secret Camp'. This site is an important revolutionary site in the DPRK since it is officially the place where the General Kim Jong Il was born in 1942.

Along with Kim Jong Il's native home, the site also housed members of the President Kim Il Sung's guerilla army during their fight against the Japanese occupation.

Samjiyon Grand Monument

Also nearby is the Samjiyon Grand Monument. There are three 'Grand' monuments in the DPRK; Wangjaesan, Mansudae and Samjiyon. The monument in Samjiyon was built to commemorate the anti-Japanese revolutionary exploits of the President in northern Korea and Manchuria during the 1930s and 40s.

The monument is made up of multiple different sections. The main focus, however, is a 19.7m tall bronze statue of a young Kim Il Sung in military uniform looking wistfully into Korea. There is also a Juche torch and two groups of statues dedicated to the guerilla fighters who fought under Kim Il Sung's command.

Aircraft parked at Samjiyon airport
The General Kim Jong Il's Native House
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