[KS] Of steam trains and Paek Son Haeng

Stefan Ewing sa_ewing at hotmail.com
Thu Aug 3 15:25:06 EDT 2006

Dear Dr. Foster-Carter:

I can only really help out with your the third question.  The article you 
linked to appears to be a Babelfishesque (i.e., automated) translation of a 
Japanese text.  There, "SL" is used as an abbreviation for "steam 
locomotive," accompanied as it is by the parenthesized Japanese term "jouki 
kikansha" ("steam locomotive," which would be "chu^nggi kigwanch'a" in 
Korean).  So it's some kind of steam train excursion (hence the photo) 
that's being promoted.

This brings to mind two questions:

1. As far as I know from reading South Korean articles on the subject, much 
of the North's rail system is electrified.  Given what would appear to be 
severe problems with the power grid up there (as evidenced by the black void 
in nighttime satellite photos of the region), is the railway system as 
compromised as one might expect the rest of the country's infrastructure to 

If so--and granted, the linked article is only for a tourist 
excursion--might steam locomotives be used elsewhere in the country in 
regular service to make up for electricity shortages?  (During the apartheid 
years, South Africa dealt with restricted oil imports by running coal-fired 
steam trains long after many other countries had switched entirely to diesel 
or electric locomotives.)

2. In South Korea, a steam excursion train used to run on weekends on the 
Gyooeseon between Seoul and Uijeongbu.  Korail appears to have ended regular 
passenger service on the line since then, and along with it, the steam runs 
as well, evidently.  Does anyone know if that stream train is still running, 
or what's happened to the locomotive?

Regarding your second question on Paek Son Haeng, we are told that the 
statue was "unearthed," which begs the question, who, er, "earthed" it in 
the first place?  Wouldn't this appear to be a case of rehabilitating 
someone who previously fell out of favour with the state?  (Or is such a 
reading between the lines just obvious?)

Stefan Ewing

>From: Afostercarter at aol.com
>Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
>To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>Subject: [KS] Three questions on North Korea
>Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2006 13:50:00 EDT
>Dear colleagues,
>Now I have a question or three on North Korea:
>one rather general/current,
>another very specific/historical,
>- and a third for light relief.
>B. Quite separate from the above is this from KCNA on August 1.
>Fascinating. I just wondered:
>* Is much known independently about this good woman?
>* Why is N Korea suddenly praising the "patriotic rich"?
>Monument to Paek Son Haeng Unearthed
>    Pyongyang, August 1 (KCNA) -- The monument to Paek Son Haeng has been
>recently discovered in Mangyongdae District, Pyongyang, the DPRK. Paek Son 
>(1848-1933) was a patriotic rich woman. She donated a colossal amount of 
>for the enlightenment and development of the nation while living a frugal
>     The monument was investigated by researchers of the National Classic
>Institute under the Academy of Social Science.
>     It was reared by a number of people including Kang Ton Uk (February
>1871-November 1943), maternal grandfather of President Kim Il Sung, on July 
>Juche 16 (1927) to hand down to posterity the patriotic deed of Paek Son 
>who donated a large acreage of land and fund to the construction of 
>School and various schools.
>     The original monument consisted of a pedestal, body stone and shade
>stone. But only the body stone has been discovered. It is 170 centimeters 
>high, 43
>wide and 31 thick.
>     Engraved on the front side of the monument are words " Monument to 
>Son Haeng" in bold letters, the words introducing her patriotic deed on the
>back side and the names of more than 140 persons concerned on the both 
>     General Secretary Kim Jong Il, who values the nation's history and the
>people's patriotic doings, saw to it to restore to its original state the
>Monument to Paek Son Haeng and set up it, along with the explanatory board, 
>in the
>compound of the Paek Son Haeng Memorial House in the front of the Ryongwang
>Pavilion so that a lot of people can see it.
>C. Finally, what on earth is this all about?
>best wishes
>Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology & Modern Korea, Leeds 
>Home address: 17 Birklands Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18 3BY, UK
>tel: +44(0)  1274  588586         (alt) +44(0) 1264 737634          mobile:
>+44(0)  7970  741307
>fax: +44(0)  1274  773663         ISDN:   +44(0)   1274 589280
>Email: afostercarter at aol.com     (alt) afostercarter at yahoo.com      
>[Please use @aol; but if any problems, please try @yahoo too - and let me
>know, so I can chide AOL]

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