Vienna to Pyongyang


Helmut from Austria and and Oliver from Switzerland took a train trip across Russia and into North Korea, without arranging their entrance point with the North Korean tourist agency. They took a route that was supposed to be "impossible" for tourists. In fact, the border personnel couldn't remember the last time Europeans traveled through their station.
Our two "translators" (they were about 30-40 years old) then wanted to see our passports. They thoroughly checked our visas and asked for where we were going and for what purpose (I answered by pointing on the Korean word next to the words "Purpose of entry" on my visa...). They asked for our nationality and I had the impression that they initially didn't exactly understand from what country I was from. I don't know how Austria is said in Korean language, and they didn't seem to know the Russian word "Avstriya". I finally tried to explain by drawing a map and saying that "Avstriya" is "nedaleko" (close) to "Germaniya"...
They sat quite a while with us and asked us also what was our job, what we knew about North Korea, how our media is reporting abouth North Korea, how we think about the United States, whether we have been there or were planning to go there, what we were thinking about Kim Jong Il and so on…of course we answered diplomatically.
However, they were always friendly and we had the impression that they were also very interested to talk with Europeans. Maybe it was the first time in their life they could do that.

The entire site is fascinating for train enthusiasts. If you are only interested in the North Korean part, you can skip ahead. Pictured is the Demilitarized Zone, which they visited from the northern side. Link -via reddit

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