Myanmar military delegation’s visit to DPRK in 2008

I stumbled on a set of photos taken by a Myanmar military delegation which visited the DPRK to shop for military accessories.  The visit was from Nov 21-28, 2008, but there are no KCNA stories which report on the visit.  I am not sure how the pictures made it out of Myanmar, but I am sure somebody got into trouble (UPDATE: See Tad in the comments).  They have been in the public domain for some time I gather, but I had never seen them until recently.

I received the photo set in PDF format with Burmese captions.  The image resolution was not great.  You can see the original PDF here. I had the photo captions translated and matched up with a publication of the group’s membership and itinerary and I even took the time to locate some (though not all) of the group’s destinations on Google Earth. You can see the photos and translated captions here (PDF). It is a large file, so give it a minute to download.  Apologies for any grammatical mistakes in this document.  There are some small typos which I could not be bothered to fix.  I relied on friends (and friends of friends) for all the translation work, but I believe it is all reasonably accurate.

Surprisingly, many of the stops on the delegation’s visit were typical tourist locations: Myohyangsan, West Sea Barrage, Tower of the Juche Idea, Arch of Triumph, Puhung and Yangwang Metro Stops.  But below I identify some of the more unique shopping destinations.

1. The Myanmar military delegation stayed in a “special hotel” for dignitaries behind Kamsusan Palace.  Previous guests have included the former King of Cambodia.  Below are frontal and satellite images:

myanmar-delegation-hotel.jpg myanmar-delegation-hotel-satellitel.jpg

2. The delegation visited a facility called the “Model of Command Post”  (Command Control System and National Air Defense Command System – PLUTO – 4S).  Judging by the satellite imagery, this is a new facility.

3. Judging from the pictures, the delegation seems to have visited the Pipagot Naval Base near Nampo. The South Koreans allege this base was involved in the sinking of the Cheonan.  We are not given this location in the pictures but we do know that the group was near Nampo at the time and that the pictures and satellite imagery of Pipagot are consistent.

myanmar-delegation-pipagot-1.jpg myanmar-delegation-pipagot-2.jpg myanmar-delegation-pipagot-satellite.jpg

4. I believe that the pictures also confirm the Myanmar delegation visited the Onchon Air Force Base.  Again this is because we know the group was near Nampo, the photos and the satellite imagery of the area are consistent, and in the fourth photo below, the Burmese language caption acknowledges the existence of Onchon’s underground aircraft hangar.

myanmar-delegation-onchon-1.jpg mynamar-delegation-onchon-2.jpg myanmar-delegation-onchon-3.jpg

myanmar-delegation-onchon-4.jpg myanmar-delegation-onchon-satellite-1.jpg myanmar-delegation-onchon-satellite-2.jpg

5. And finally, the photos claim that the delegation visited a number of facilities in a place called “Tackwon”:  A Women’s military unit, AA ammunition factory, anti-tank-laser-beam-guided-missile factory, radar factory, and Igla factory.  This location is is actually Taegwan (Daegwan, 대관) in North Pyongan Province (40°13’10.48″N, 125°13’27.32″E).  Of all the facilities mentioned in the itinerary, the only one from which we have ground-level photographs is the “Women’s Artillery Unit” and the  “Radar Factory”.

myanmar-taegwan-1.jpg myanmar-taegwan-2.jpg mynamar-taegwan-3.jpg

As of 12/8/2010 the imagery for this location is in high resolution on Google Earth and we can now pinpoint these locations.  The “Women’s Artillery Unit” is located at 40.218949°, 125.231670° and the “Radar Factory” is located at 40.228778°, 125.237964°.  They are pictured on the left- and right-hand sides of the following image:


3 Responses to “Myanmar military delegation’s visit to DPRK in 2008”

  1. Tad says:

    Yep these were pretty interesting, the guy that got them released was executed in Myanmar so I recall.
    Some good shots of a SCUD factory in there too.

  2. Expat says:

    “Surprisingly, many of the stops on the delegation’s visit were typical tourist locations: Myohyangsan, West Sea Barrage, Tower of the Juche Idea, Arch of Triumph, Puhung and Yangwang Metro Stops”.

    I am not sure that this is all that surprising, if you’ll excuse me for contradicting you. Political/diplomatic guests are often obliged to visit cultural or memorial sites. Israel is the most obvious case that springs to mind (not that I am equating Israel in any way with the DPRK). Moreover, the DPRK may be attempting to export the Juche idea and Songan politics to a receptive audience. Alternatively, it might be a weak attempt to boast: “look we’re not as backward as the West alleges. See our mighty monuments”.