Kaesong

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In the 12th century Kaesong used to be the capital of the Koryo Dynasty. During that time the city was very rich and used to have around 800,000 inhabitants, many of which were Buddhist aristocrats. Centuries of neglect, three major wars that left the city in rubble and decades of communist mismanagement have changed all that dramatically and nowadays Kaesong is modern city with wide streets that is home to around 200,000 residents. There is little of interest apart from the old quarter, where you can see numerous traditional houses with tiled roofs.

There are some good museums in town though, as well as a few relics that survived destruction. The Songgyungwan Neo-Confucian College was originally built in 992, but it was destroyed and rebuilt after the Japanese invasion of 1592. The building is home to the Koryo Museum, where pottery and other Buddhist relics are on display. Confucian ceremonies are re-enacted there regularly.

The Sonjuk Bridge is another one of Kaesong's highlights. It was built in 1216. Nearby is the Songin Monument that was erected to commemorate the Neo-Confucian hero Chong Mong-ju.

Not far from Kaesong is the Tomb of King Kongmin and his queen. The king was the 31st Koryo king and reigned between 1352 and 1374. The tomb is beautifully decorated with traditional granite facing and statues.

Accommodation is available in Kaesong. The city is not far from the border with South Korea, about 140 km southeast of P'yongyang.


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