25 September 2008

Another post!

Here's something I recently found out as I was doing research to prepare for my road trip to Gyeongju.

The UN and various Asian countries have been working on an Asia-wide network of highways, much like the Pan-American Highway stretching from Alaska to Argentina, and the E-highways linking European nations. Wikipedia has some information on these highway routes, which will involve upgrading existing routes and building missing gaps. The highways are designated to promote trade between various Asian nations.

Here in South Korea, two major Asian highways exist: AH1 and AH6.

AH1 starts in Tokyo, enters the Korean peninsula at Busan (a tunnel from Busan to Japan is being explored), takes Expressway 1 (which is now featuring the AH1 signs) to Seoul then continues to Pyongyang and Uiju, where it enters China. It heads south from Beijing, coming close to Hong Kong, before entering Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, before passing Hellespont at Istanbul, and ending at the Bulgarian border. Total length is 12,845 miles.

AH6 heads north from Busan along the east coast of the Korean peninsula, entering North Korea at the Diamond Mountains and heading for the Russian port of Vladivostok. From there, it cuts into Manchuria, goes through Harbin, re-enters Russia, and continues west on the Trans-Siberian Highway to Moscow, before ending at the Belarusian border. The portion west of the Ural Mountains uses the European E30 route, which continues to Berlin and Amsterdam, before taking the M25 orbital motorway around London and ending in Ireland.

I wish that sometime during my lifetime, I will be able to drive the entire length of one of these two highways. I am especially looking forward to AH6, especially since it will link Busan, where my parents grew up, with Hamhung and Tanchon, their birthplaces, before leading me to some of Europe's greatest cities. The only thing that stands in my way is the political will; North Korea needs to cooperate more and open up, especially since it will also result in badly needed foreign currency. I will do everything in my powers to ensure that both the US and South Korea will have a more coherent, sensible North Korean policy.