The Taedong River is one of the five longest rivers of Korea. Its length is over 250 miles, and it flows through the centre of Pyongyang. The name of the river comes from the fact that it is fed by hundreds of large and small tributaries. Its clear water meandering round Juam Hill, Moran Hill, Mansu Hill, Nam Hill, Mangyong Hill and other high and low hills looks like an unfolded roll of silk. And Rungna, Yanggak, Ssuk, Turu, Tudan, Pyokji and Konyu islets on the river look like gems set in the silk.
A tale goes that Kim Hwang Won, a famous poet of Koryo, tried to describe the scenery of the river in poetry but broke his brush as he failed to select words good enough to describe the beauty.
In the past, however, the river was a byname of calamities. Whenever it rained the river overflowed, inflicting damage on local inhabitants. A relevant legend goes as follows.
Once upon a time the river was in spate. When a carp was going dead out of the river, a man saved it by washing it cleanly and putting it back into the river. This enabled him to meet the Dragon King one day. The man asked the king to prevent the river from overflowing. The next day the king had a folding screen-like rock wall rise on one side of the river. Since then, it is said, the river never overflowed.
It is nothing but an old story that reflected the people’s desire.
Their desire came true only after Korea’s liberation from the Japanese imperialists’ military occupation in August 1945, and thus a new history of the river started. The Taedong River improvement project was launched: the endless river was embanked, and the embankment was covered with a retaining granite wall followed by the construction of promenades along the embankments. And measures were taken to make comprehensive use of the water of the river: there were built South Phyongan provincial and Kiyang irrigation systems and the Kaechon-Lake Thaesong Waterway along with the construction of the Mirim, Ponghwa and West Sea barrages and the Taedonggang and Namgang power stations, all adding to the scenery of the river. This also made it possible to prevent any flood damage and ensure good power generation and transport development.
The ecological environment of the river has also got better, and thus it attracts different birds including spoonbill, Egretta eulophotes (Swinhoe) and wild duck. And the number of fishes inhabiting the river has increased, including carp, goldfish, catfish, mandarin fish, eel and minnow. So have the kinds of trees along the banks, including willow, dawn redwood and magnolia.
Around the river were built the Okryu Restaurant, the Grand People’s Study House, the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre, the Central Youth Hall and so on, all based on Korean style of architecture. On large and small islets on the river were erected the May Day Stadium, the Yanggakdo International Hotel, the Pyongyang International Cinema House and so on.
In recent years the Rungna Dolphinarium and Rungna Water Park and the Sci-Tech Complex have been built on Rungna Islet and Ssuk Islet on the river respectively, along with the construction of modern structures such as the Munsu Water Park, the Ryugyong Health Complex, the People’s OpenAir Ice Rink, a roller-skating ground, the Pyongyang Baby Home, the Pyongyang Orphanage and the Pyongyang Old People’s Home on the best places of the riverside.
On one side of the river has risen the Pyongyang Taedonggang Fish Restaurant resembling a cruising ship. It is a service centre similar to the Okryu Restaurant typical of the capital city. The fish restaurant offers dishes made with live sturgeon and Ryongjong fish. Relishing the dishes you can feast your eyes on the scenery of Chongnyu Cliff.
Spectacular is the night view of the riverside—the red torch of the Tower of the Juche Idea, skyscrapers standing in rows on Changjon and Mirae Scientists streets, the Okryu Bridge, the Chongnyu Bridge and the Rungna Bridge decorated with illuminations, the floating restaurant Taedonggang and the general-service ship Mujigae. The view seems to be an embroidery of illuminated Pyongyang at night.
It is not without reason that Korean sportspersons say that they could exalt the honour of the country in international competitions encouraged by their memory of the days when they had trained breathing in the fresh air along the Taedong riverside every morning. Therefore, all the Korean people express their love for the river by calling it motherly river or the people’s river. And they see in the daily improving scenery of the river the future of their country getting younger and their nation getting more prosperous.
Article: Rim Ok.