The North Korean Submarine at Jeongdongjin

A 35 meter long submarine which is blue on the top and red on the bottom is on display on land.

The thing you see in this picture is the only North Korean Sang-O class submarine which has ever been captured. It ran into some rocks near Jeongdongjin, a small town just south of Gangneung (in fact, it is administered as part of Gangneung city).

This map shows that Gangwon province is in northeastern South Korea, and that Gangneung is in the center of Gangwon's east coast.

You can learn about the dramatic story of this submarine by reading the Wikipedia entry about the “1996 Gangneung Submarine Infiltration Incident”.

Some pipes inside the submarine

These pictures make the submarine look more spacious than it actually is. Visitors are required to wear hard hads lest they bump their heads against something, and walking through the submarine requires a bit of maneuvering through the narrow space.

A room inside the submarine with an open hatch above

I overheard another visitor say “How did they fit 26 crew members into such a small submarine?” I was wondering the same thing. The submarine is only 34 meters long, and had to fit all of the equipment as well as the crew.

A sink inside the submarine

I did not photograph the little “bathroom” because it was a) tiny b) dark and c) as far as I could tell, there was no toilet – if there hadn’t been a sign indicating the “bathroom” I would have completely overlooked it. Suffice to say, I don’t think life on this submarine was very hygenic.

I think it's amusing that there is a 7-Eleven right next to a North Korean submarine

I think it’s amusing that there is a 7-Eleven right next to a North Korean submarine

This photo makes this chamber look like it's bigger than it actually is.

This photo makes this chamber look like it’s bigger than it actually is.

Much of the equipment had labels in English – does that mean they were imported?

Lots of colorful equipment, I have no idea what all of these gadgets do

Some black equipment on the wall which looks wrecked

Life on this submarine must have been hell. Then again, life for many North Koreans is … unpleasant.

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It’s a unique look into a world which is difficult to investigate.

A woman walks out of the exit of the submarine and takes off her hard hat

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Inside Unification Park (where the submarine is displayed) is a small wooden boat.

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Twelve people rode this boat from Gimchaek, a town in North Hamgyeong, which was one of the provinces worst afflicted by the 1990s famine in North Korea. It took four days for the boat to reach Gangneung, where the passengers defected to South Korea.

On the left is the sea, and on the right is the front of a US Navy ship on display

And there is another naval ship on display in Jeongdongjin…


It was made in the USA in 1945, it was eventually donated to the Republic of Korea Navy, and when the ROK navy retired this ship, it was put on display here.


Even though it is much older than the North Korean submarine, it is clearly a better manufactured ship.


Inside the ship is an exhibit about the Republic of Korea Navy, including a machine which plays various Korean naval songs.


After seeing the inside of the North Korean submarine, the barracks for the crew members of this ship look very comfortable, and officers’ country looks like a 5 star hotel.


I’ve been on more impressive US-made navy vessals, but juxtaposing this ship with the North Korean submarine puts it in a different light.



About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.
This entry was posted in Gangwon, Modern History, Mostly Photos, North Korea, Sea and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The North Korean Submarine at Jeongdongjin

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