When you visit North Korea you put yourself in the hands of your guides. There is no option to choose your itinerary day to day beyond the rough outline proposed by your tour company at the time of booking. And even that can change, as we discovered when a tropical storm hit the southern part of the country where we were staying at the time.
I touched on the aftermath of that storm in a previous post. But it isn’t just storms that can affect your plans. While in Wonsan our guide was happy to discover that a new ‘attraction’ had been opened to tourists. And we were to be the first group she would take there!
It was a one hour drive out of town to this new attraction, Kosan Fruit Farm, an apple farm. Yes, in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea they are proud to show off to their small number of visitors the success of their agricultural and industrial initiatives. Any that are less successful are of course firmly out of bounds!
Visiting the farm
Like many of the visits we went on in Korea this was again surprisingly interesting, mainly for the scale of this state-run farm, which is the largest fruit farm in the country. How many farms elsewhere have their own iron fence making factory?! Or viewing platforms from which tourists can properly appreciate the wonders of the operation?
Views from the visitor viewing platform
We were given various facts and figures about apple production. I failed to absorb most of these because I was too busy taking photos. But I did gather that the apples grown here are developed in North Korea from better-known foreign varieties and that this is the biggest such farm in the country.
Messaging is everything here, directed mainly at the workers but also to some extent at foreign visitors. Huge propaganda board extol hard work for the sake of the country and its people. Meanwhile the roads are lined, as everywhere in rural North Korea, with cosmos flowers, seen as a gift from the people to the Supreme Leaders
Tasting the apples
I hope Denzil will accept some photos of these apples for his Nature Photo challenge this week on the theme of ‘Edible’. I can confirm that is exactly what they were!
We were invited to pick and try the apples. I was a little wary of what seemed to be a liberal spraying of pesticide, but gave mine a good polish and a rinse with some water. I have to say it tasted good, perhaps especially because we had had very little fruit during our tour. However we were slightly taken aback to be charged for the apples after re-boarding the bus. We’d assumed we were being given them as a sample (as had our guides). But they weren’t expensive, so we didn’t mind paying for the treat.
I visited North Korea in 2019