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).
You can learn about the dramatic story of this submarine by reading the Wikipedia entry about the “1996 Gangneung Submarine Infiltration Incident”.
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.
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.
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.
Much of the equipment had labels in English – does that mean they were imported?
Life on this submarine must have been hell. Then again, life for many North Koreans is … unpleasant.
It’s a unique look into a world which is difficult to investigate.
Inside Unification Park (where the submarine is displayed) is a small wooden boat.
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.
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.