In September 2008, two railway experts from Austria and Switzerland traveled by train from Vienna to Pyongyang. It was a 13.000 kilometer-long trip, which took 13 days 8 hours and 30 minutes and involved the crossing of four national borders and two gauge-changing. The highlight of the trip was the crossing of Russian-DPRK border at Khasan-Tumangang. They traveled further along the eastern coast of North Korea from Tumangan via Kimchaek – Hamhung to Pyongyang via Tanchon and Kuum-ni.
“After the middle of the bridge we already had North Korean territory below the wheels. There were people under the bridge, they were working on some kind of field.They beckoned to us and we beckoned to them. We were surprised that they could be there just so close to the border. Finally we reached the end of the bridge, which was guarded by some soldiers. Now we had officially entered North Korea via Tumangan! “The Songun-era began”, we were joking…
…After some kilometers we passed the triangular junction at which the line to Onsong – Namyang – Hoeryong branches off. There were one or two stops untill we went to bed and it was always the same: Total darkness outside, people running around to find their wagon, other people loading stuff into the luggage-car, railway staff blowing their whistles and much “train-horning” before departure…
…Local people, who saw us at stations, were at the 1st moment quite surprised, but then usually didn’t care. When somewhere in the countryside people, who were walking or working on the fields next to the railway, saw us looking out of the passing train, unbelieving amazement was their reaction and often the told other people standing next to them, that there is something sensational to see and pointed to us…”
See the full story with pictures here:
“Although we successfully entered North Korea via Tumangan, we were later told by our travel agency via e-mail that our trip caused serious troubles at KITC (the governmental “Korean International Tourist Company”) and that they have enforced new regulations to avoid any not agreed (with KITC) entry via Tumangan in future. I can therefore – until KITC officially accepts this border point for tourists – not recommend to repeat what we did, as trying to do so might end up with another result…”