The Kaesong Folk Hotel aka Kaesong Minsok Hotel is located in the old town of Kaesong. Kaesong was initially planned out to belong to South Korea after the Korean War. The US did not heavily bomb the city, as it had done with the other major North Korean cities and as a result pre-war architecture and historical relics of the city survived.
What is very interesting about this hotel is that it was actually part of the old town of Kaesong city. In 1989 a part of the old quarter was turned into a Folk Hotel for tourists, both foreign and Koreans. Sections of the hotel are actually at the footsteps of Janam Hill that overlooks the whole old part of town.
KTG Traveller taking pictures of the old part of town of Kaesong city from Mount Janam
Kaesong city is about 170 km away from Pyongyang. The Minsok Hotel is located in the old part of Kaesong, a mere 8 km away from the DMZ.
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The Hotel is a traditional Korean hotel. It is formed by a number of individual courtyards. Each courtyard is surrounded by 3-4 rooms.
Map of the layout of the Kaesong Folk Hotel. Parts of the Kaesong Minsok Hotel reach to the foot of Mount Janam. The stream that you see also flows outside of the hotel through the city.
There are around 50 rooms in total and 19 courtyards, though about 30 rooms are available for visitors as some are for guides only and others are too old.
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Adding to the picturesque views of the hotel is a small stream flowing between the houses. This stream actually flows through the city too. Tiny bridges within the hotel grounds will help you cross the stream.
One peculiarity of this hotel is that we sleep and eat in a traditional Korean manner, that is to say, on the floor.
Getting ready for dinner. We eat and sleep on the floor at the Kaesong Minsok Hotel in Kaesong.
The floor consists of a bamboo mat, making it softer than say a concrete floor. Moreover, there is underground heating, a method called ondol.
When it comes to sleeping on the floor, we use a thick mattress, so don’t be scared when told that you are to sleep on the ground! The rooms can be, though, very small. Some do have a living room.
Back problems? There are a few rooms with actual beds. But please note that these are very limited so you should let us know in advance if interested.
Important - We are kindly asked not to enter the rooms with our shoes on. You can leave your shoes at the door of your room that leads to the courtyard.
Hot water is limited in the hotel. We are asked to pick a time to have hot water for about an hour, either late in the evening (usually from 10 pm) or early in the morning (from 6 am). Please note however that even then hot water may not be available and we have had to take cold showers here before. The water pressure is also not great.
Power cuts are also frequent here, so we recommend you to have your cameras, phones, etc fully charged in Pyongyang the day you leave for Kaesong.
A newly constructed courtyard, it is the VIP section of the hotel. Unlike the rest of the rooms, it has 24/7 hot water.
24/7 - Unlike other rooms, the rooms in courtyard No. 10 have hot water all the time
Our dear friend and top guide in Pyongyang, Kim Sung Mi, spent weeks one winter helping coordinate the construction of No.10 Courtyard in the Kaesong Folk Hotel
It is possible to arrange a rice cake making session. Staff from the hotel come up and pound sticky rice into cakes which they then fry. Guests are more than welcome to join in the ritual! While you enjoy your meal some ladies, also hotel staff members, will sing some Korean songs.
A walk from the hotel through the old part of town to Kaesong South Gate can be arranged too. It offers us a great chance to take pictures of ordinary life in the old part of an ancient city in Korea.
Kaesong Noodle Restaurant (개성국수집) near the Kaesong Folk Hotel
Spring Day in the DPRK. Walk from the Kaesong Folk Hotel to Kaesong South Gate.
There is a cozy little bar next to the restaurant with a very friendly bar lady from Kaesong city who has been there many years. We usually gather here for a drink after dinner with our Korean guides, it’s a great way to know them well and to share impressions of our trip in North Korea so far.
We also recommend checking out the night views and comparing the clear skies in the north vs the organgy sky in the south. Remember that Seoul is merely 70km away from here. Also, if you look carefully, you will see the statues of the leaders, lit-up brightly, overlooking the whole city of Kaesong.
There is a huge propaganda poster just outside the hotel, great for pictures.
The poster shown above is right across from the Minsok Folk Hotel and roughly translates as "Let us protect with our lives the Party Central Committee led by the Great Comrade Kim Jong Un!"
Conditions in this hotel are very basic, but staying here overnight definitely adds to your DPRK experience. Know what to expect in terms of hot water and power cuts and do not have high expectations regarding the level of comfort here and you will be pleased to have stayed here. You will have a bit of a taste of what life was like in feudal Korea, something that will contrast with the rest of your North Korea tour.
Do you have any reviews, stories and/or questions regarding the this hotel? Share them!