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It’s the location of the ‘Tea Lady’ segment, which I may add was vastly exaggerated on their part as a ghost town.
In reality, Sohung Rest House sees regular visitors — it’s the only sanctioned stop between Pyongyang and the DMZ.
It’s also more ‘sterile’ of propaganda, inspirational banners with quotes from the Kim’s are few and far between in fields or on hillsides unlike the rest of the country. Activity increased as we descended further south-west past Sariwon (which we visited in days following).
Most notably, however, was how cripplingly lonely the road is. Off-shooting villages visible from the highway finally breathed some life into the barren countryside and were accessible only by walking tracks.
North Korea would also have you believe there’s no homeless, in reality, people that bring the model city of Pyongyang into disrepute are displaced outside of it.
Upon leaving Pyongyang, I saw trains hidden by tall barriers above which the upper half of military tanks were clearly visible.
Similarities between less fortunate South-East Asian countries such as Laos could not be dismissed.
I witnessed many exhausted locals pushing broken down motorcycles for miles out here — reliable equipment and fuel are commodities as scarce as hen’s teeth.
They’re inescapable, their glowing smiles brightening walls, billboards and murals. It’s akin to bursting through a bubble, a distinct disconnect between the privilege inside and the poverty beyond.
They’re personified by statues, on television screens inspecting ginseng cultivation and every room exhibits portraiture of their heads. To say this city is repressive is an understatement. At the outskirts of Pyongyang, we cross underneath the oddly ironic, yet marvellous Arch of Reunification forming a humbling southern gateway to the city. What follows is a desolate rural no-mans-land without end in sight. Unofficially labelled the Reunification Highway, the Pyongyang-Kaesong motorway is a six-lane controlled access link between well…Pyongyang and Kaesong (through Sariwon), and hence to the DMZ.
Living in rural North Korea was evidently a harsh lifestyle. Halfway passes and we take a break at what the guides and most foreigners know as the Tea House (Sohung Rest House).