Sunday, 30 August 2009

Jeongdongjin's interesting claims to fame or Korean history part 2

We are staying in the seaside resort of Jeongdongjin right now and this place has a interesting 3-fold claim to fame. First of all Jeongdongjin is in the Guiness book of records for having the world's closest train station to the sea - and it is very close indeed. Actually one of the train platforms doubles as the seaside promenade. Secondly, it has a cruise ship on a hill. Yes, you have read correctly. Here you can see a complete life sixe cruise ship set up on a hill high above the sea. The whole thing is a huge hotel complex and a major tourist attraction. And no, it has not been a real cruise ship before. It is a hotel built in the shape of one. Very clever business idea. They even charge admission to have a look inside.

But the biggest tourist attraction is a real North Korean submarine. And I will also give you the story behind it. In 1996 (!) the North Koreans launched a submarine to spy out South Korean military installations. 3 spies went ashore, did their job undiscovered and wanted to return to their submarine. This is when everything started to go wrong. The submarine got stuck on rocks in heavy sea. The captain apparently did not trust his crew, because he shot the entire crew of 11 men before setting fire and destroying all documents. He then went ashore with the remaining 9 soldiers (apparently more trustworthy than crew members) and tried to return to North Korea.

It took the South Koreans 49 days (!) to catch and/or kill these 'Red Army bandits' and 11 South Korean soldiers and 6 civilians 'died a glorious death' in the process. The stranded submarine is now set up in a 'Unification park' right next to an American warship that served in the Korean War and is a gift of the American government. It was interesting to see that the Germans are seen as sort of heroes in the accompanying 'security exhibition' where there were loads of references to the German re-unification.

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