Railways are also women’s workplaces. Women can be seen everywhere, such as in-car crews and railroad train drivers. One of the highlights is West Pyongyang Station, just before Pyongyang Station. According to the Labor Newspaper dated July 30, 2003. In recent decades, West Pyongyang Station has been operated exclusively by women. (Hayato Kokubu “North Korea’s railway situation”)
The large portrait of President Kim Il Sung stands out in front of Pyongyang Station. Almost every station in North Korea, not just Pyongyang, has this portrait, and even the station on the border with China has a large portrait and looks at the Chinese side.
This portrait was originally from a young age, but after the death of the Chief, it has been replaced by a portrait of a smiling man of the Middle Ages called the “sun statue”, and gradually a portrait of a local station Exchanges are taking place. On the right side of the slogan board at the top of the station building is “Glorious Korean Labor Party Live!” On the left hand is “Great leader Kim Jong Il Comrade!” (Ibid.)
At Esan station, I saw someone lying on the platform. He hit his head so hard that his brain was partially exposed. He was still alive, and his trembling voice said, “I don’t want to die.” He was on the outside of the train, so he hit his head at the edge of the platform when he entered the station. Similar accidents were common during the famine. (Lee Hyun-so, “A Girl with Seven Names”)
Autumn of 1993. Already by this time, trains heading north from Pyongyang were sparse, if at all, due to lack of power. Even if a ticket could be bought, the chances of sitting were small, unless the traveler was a senior official of the party. The station was always full of passengers waiting for the train. They roamed the dark camp, squatted down, smoked, and waited for the train to arrive. When the train arrived, he rushed wildly, pushing his body through a broken window and climbing the seam of the car. (Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy:Ordinary Lives in North Korea)
None of the coaches have broken glass. The windows were full of passengers. Even the roof of the passenger car was full of people sitting around with a vinyl sheet wrapped around the body or with their hips bent in a bow to prevent electric shock from the overhead line.
When the train stops, passengers cling to the getting on and off steps and screams to get on early. Some push each other and try to step on another’s head.
(Anchol brothers, “North Korea seen by a secret camera”)
We managed to get on the train by sneaking in three boxes of cigarettes instead of fines. However, due to poor power conditions, the number of trains operated was extremely small, and it took three or four days to get from Sariwon to Sohung.
Once people miss the train, they have to wait 10 days, so they jump on their lives.
Sit and die, act and die, both were the same. In fact, as soon as the train arrived, many were stomped as if they were all rushing from the waiting room, and many died.
Everyone climbs into the window because the train door doesn’t open. When I got on, I got on the train, and there were no places to stand in the train.
The moment the baby was piggy-backed and his corpse was put in a rucksack, his backpack was robbed and his mother sometimes fainted. There are no places to stand inside the car, so some people climb the roof and freeze to death on the way, or some people get caught on electric wires and die. (Buji-Rong “The Woman Who Abandoned Her Homeland”)
The train is normal if it is four days late, it is normal if it is one week late, and the train is late enough to be OK even ten days. Pickles and thieves are hanging around at the entrances where passengers enter and exit, making them “exclusive entrances.” The passengers are forced to enter through the window. With the exception of some main lines, most trains have no windowpanes, so you don’t have to worry about cutting your hand or cutting your face.
However, to get in through the window smoothly, you need to have a person who cooks near the window hold a little gold to help. (Shinichi Nebe, Testimony: Starvation or Explosion)
The train we got on was a large, super-luxurious sleeper. Wide axis with the same width as the Shinkansen in Japan. The body is dark blue. A thick white line was running right and left under the window.
The train was a seven- or eight-car train, so when standing on the platform and looking at the body, the elegant dark blue and pure white lines made a wonderful contrast.
There was a one-meter-long passage near the window, slightly wider than the Japanese Shinkansen dining car passage. There were twelve or three rooms on each, with openable doors. There was a small luxury table in the middle and a nice desk lamp on the small shelf by the window.
Mineral water, republican confectionery, and tobacco familiar to the Mangebong were lined up on the table. Kim Il Sung’s portrait was hung above the inside of the door. The cabin is generally unified with a chic brown color. (Kim Won-jo, “Republic of the frozen land”)
The body of a four- or five-car regular car was gray, almost black, but paint was peeling off in some places. Normal cars were full. There were many workers and clerks in their 20s and 60s.
Most of them wore dark, similar to the body of a train, and also shabby people’s clothing. There were also some people who seemed to be PLA soldiers dressed in khaki military uniforms. There were few women, but an old woman with a neckerchief wrapped in her head sat in a dingy jogori.
Some people were wearing Lenin hats and others were smoking. Some people were holding things like wrapping cloths and paper wrappers, but none of them had bags. (Ibid.)
The tunnel that needs the most vigilance is the tunnel. In North Korea, the electricity situation is so bad that when you enter a tunnel, it goes dark, and as if you were aiming for it, there are many people who rob others of their goods.
In addition to being deprived of goods, they are often cut with a razor. The next stop is the stop. For example, a railway from Pyongyang to Sinuiju stops for a long time at major stations such as Sunan, Sukchon, Sinanju, Pakchon, Jongju and Sonchon. At this time, it is common for a robbery of three or four people to attack.
The means is a rough one that forms a group, gets on a train that is packed tightly, and then randomly throws luggage around there out of the car. This is because North Korea’s stations and trains are crowded with people. In North Korea, Pyongyang, which normally travels in four hours on the main line, is one hour or two hours late in Sinuiju. In other cases, it was delayed for five or six hours or sometimes not operated. (Shinichi Hebe, “North Korea Exile 730th Document”)