USS Pueblo

All tourists to North Korea visit the alleged American enemy spy ship, USS Pueblo. In January 1968 this research vessel was either within or very close to North Korean territorial waters when it was captured and its crew held prisoner for close to a year, in an event that has become known as the Pueblo Incident. The ship is regarded as a trophy by the DPRK and is currently moored along the Taedong River which flows through Pyongyang. I use the verb “flow” loosely, as the Taedong is now a stagnant river. Dredgers noisily dig up the riverbed around the clock:



The West Sea Barrage, an environmental disaster yet touted as an engineering triumph, shut off the Taedong from the Yellow Sea, causing the river to clog up, unable to flush itself. It has been almost a year since I was in Pyongyang yet I have to admit that I miss the grinding and whirring sounds of the dredgers. When I opened the windows in my room during all three times I stayed at the Yanggakdo Hotel–there are no screens on North Korean hotel windows–the pulsating sound rising from the dredgers in the river below felt soothing. 

When my group arrived at the Pueblo, we had to wait a little while for another group to finish its tour. Ship capacity thankfully limited tours to one group at a time.


We were led aboard and were given an English tour by this guide:


We were allowed to linger and take lots of photos. Some of this “spy equipment” must look really stone-age now, if it ever was spy equipment in the first place:


More interior shots will be in the next post.

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