金剛山 Geumgang Hiking
The biggest attraction of going to Geumgang is definitely the hiking. After all, there is not a total feeling of being in North Korea when one is there. It is in North Korea, but there are many foreign elements there. In the winter, hiking boots are needed. For people without them, such as myself, I had to rent spikes. The spikes were not particularly helpful the first day I went hiking on the Kuryongyon (九龍淵) Course. Those characters mean Nine Dragon Abyss. I did not fall into any abyss, but I did fall down a flight of stairs at the end because the spikes on my shoes often failed to help me get a grip on the icy steps.
The second day, there was a choice of going to some place to relax or to go hiking on a different mountain. I relax enough as it is, so I chose to do some more hiking, this time at 萬物相. The hiking spikes turned out to be useful, though I found the easiest way to come back down was to simply slide down the snowy trail. The views were better. I would have been able to hike much more quickly if I were not stuck behind many slow people. In one crevice, I ate an entire Korean pear (about the size of a kid’s soccer ball) while I waited for the line to move. The slow movement forced me to forgo another round of delicious Pyongyang Naengmyeon back in the centre of town.
I’d imagine fall would be a pretty awesome time to go, but most people I talked to thought spring is the best season for hiking around Geumgangsan.