Pyongyang (//; (Chosŏn'gŭl: 평양; hancha: 平壤), Korean pronunciation: [pʰjʌŋjaŋ], literally: "Flat Land" or "Peaceful Land", approved: P’yŏngyang; several variants) is the capital of North Korea and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was split from the South Pyongan province in 1946. It is administered as a directly governed city (chikhalsi, 직할시) on the same level as provincial governments, not a special city (teukbyeolsi, 특별시) as Seoul in South Korea.
- 1 Names
- 2 Prehistory
- 3 History
- 4 Geography and climate
- 5 Governance
- 6 Administrative status and divisions
- 7 Cityscape
- 8 Culture
- 9 Sports
- 10 Economy
- 11 Education and science
- 12 Healthcare
- 13 Gallery
- 14 Twin towns – Sister cities
- 15 See also
- 16 Notes
- 17 References
- 18 Further reading
- 19 External links
"Pyongyang" literally means "Flat Land" in Korean. One of Pyongyang's many historic names is Ryugyong (류경; 柳京), or "capital of willows", as willow trees have always been numerous throughout the city's history; this served as an inspiration for many poems. Even today, the city has numerous willow trees, with many buildings and places having "Ryugyŏng" in their names. The most notable of these is the incomplete Ryugyong Hotel. The city's other historic names include Kisong, Hwangsong, Rakrang, Sŏgyong, Sodo, Hogyong, Changan, and Heijo (during Japanese rule in Korea). During the early 20th century, Pyongyang came to be known among missionaries as being the "Jerusalem of the East", due to its historical status as a stronghold of Christianity, namely Protestantism.
After Kim Il-sung's death in 1994, some members of Kim Jong-il's faction proposed changing the name of Pyongyang to "Kim Il-sung City" (김일성시), but others suggested that North Korea should begin calling Seoul as "Kim Il-sung City" instead and grant Pyongyang the moniker "Kim Jong-il City", and in the end neither proposal was implemented.
In 1955, archaeologists excavated evidence of prehistoric occupation in a large ancient village in the Pyongyang area, called Kŭmtan-ni, dating to the Chŭlmun and Mumun pottery periods. North Koreans associate Pyongyang with "Asadal" (아사달), or Wanggomsŏng (왕검성; 王儉城), the first second millennium BC capital of the Gojoseon kingdom according to Korean history books, notably Samguk Yusa. Many South Korean historians[who?] deny this claim because other Korean history books such as the Guanzi, Sanhaijing, Shiji, and Sanguozhi place Asadal around the Liao River located in western Manchuria. The connection between the two therefore may have been asserted by North Korea for the use of propaganda. Nevertheless, Pyongyang became a major city under Gojoseon.
Pyongyang was founded in 1122 BC on the site of Tangun Dynasty's capital, according to legends. It is likely that the area of Pyongyang belonged to Wiman Joseon, the shortest-lasting part of Gojoseon if both Dangun and Gija Joseon were real, which fell in the Gojoseon–Han War in 108 BC. Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty ordered four commanderies be set up, with Lelang Commandery in the center and its capital established as 平壤 (Old Chinese: *breŋ*naŋʔ, modern Mandarin: píngrǎng, Korean: pyongyang). Several archaeological findings from the later, Eastern Han (25–220 AD) period in the Pyongyang area seems to suggest that Han forces later launched brief incursions around these parts.
The area around the city was called Nanglang during the early Three Kingdoms period. As the capital of Nanglang kingdom (낙랑국),[lower-alpha 1] Pyongyang remained an important commercial and cultural outpost after Lelang Commandery was destroyed by an expanding Goguryeo in 313.
In 668, Pyongyang became the capital of the Protectorate General to Pacify the East established by the Tang dynasty of China. However, by 676, it was taken by Silla, but left on the border between Silla and Balhae (Bohai). This lasted until the time of the Goryeo dynasty, when the city was revived as Sŏgyŏng (Hangul: 서경; hanja: 西京; "Western Capital") although it was never actually a capital of the kingdom. It was the provincial capital of the Pyeongan Province during the Joseon dynasty.
During the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98), Pyongyang was captured by the Japanese until the Japanese were defeated in the Siege of Pyongyang. Later in the 17th century, it became temporarily occupied during Second Manchu invasion of Korea until peace arrangements were made between Korea and the Manchus. While the invasions made Koreans suspicious of foreigners, the influence of Christianity began to grow after the country opened itself up to foreigners in the 16th century. Pyongyang became the base of Christian expansion in Korea, and by 1880 it had more than 100 churches and more Protestant missionaries than any other Asian city.
In 1890, the city had 40,000 inhabitants. It was the site of an important battle during the First Sino-Japanese War, which led to the destruction and depopulation of much of the city. However, it was the provincial capital of South Pyeongan Province from 1896. Under colonial rule, the city became an industrial center, called Heijō in Japanese.
By 1938, Pyongyang had a population of 235,000.
On 25 August 1945, the 25th army of the Soviet Army entered Pyongyang, and it became the temporary capital of the Provisional People's Committee for North Korea. A People's Committee was already established there, led by veteran Christian nationalist Cho Man-sik. Pyongyang became the de facto capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea at its establishment in 1948. At that time, the Pyongyang government aimed to recapture Korea's official capital at that time, Seoul. Pyongyang was again severely damaged in the Korean War, during which it was briefly occupied by South Korean forces from 19 October to 6 December 1950. In 1952, it was the target of the largest aerial raid of the entire war, involving 1,400 UN aircraft.
After the war, the city was quickly rebuilt with Soviet aid, with many buildings built in the style of Socialist Classicism. The plans for the modern city of Pyongyang were first displayed for public viewing in a theatre building. On 27 July 1953 – the day the armistice between North Korea and South Korea was signed – The Pyongyang Review wrote: "While streets were in flames, an exhibition showing the general plan of restoration of Pyongyang was held at the Moranbong Underground Theater", the air raid shelter of the government under Moran hill. "On the way of victory... fireworks which streamed high into the night sky of the capital in a gun salute briefly illuminated the construction plan of the city which would rise soon with a new look".
In 2001, the authorities began a long-term modernization program. The Ministry of Capital City Construction Development was included in the cabinet in that year. In 2006, Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law Jang Song-thaek took charge of the ministry.
Geography and climate
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Pyongyang is in the west-central part of North Korea; the city lies on a flat plain about 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of the Korea Bay, an arm of the Yellow Sea. The Taedong River flows southwestward through the city toward the Korea Bay. The Pyongyang plain, where the city is situated, is one of the two large plains on the Western coast of the Korean peninsula, the other being the Chaeryong plain. Both have an area of approximately 500 square kilometers.
Pyongyang has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dwa). Cold, dry winds can blow from Siberia in winter, making conditions very cold; the low temperature is usually below freezing between November and early March, although the average daytime high is at least a few degrees above freezing in every month except January. The winter is generally much drier than summer, with snow falling for 37 days on average.
The transition from the cold, dry winter to the warm, wet summer occurs rather quickly between April and early May, and there is a similar abrupt return to winter conditions in late October and November. Summers are generally hot and humid, with the East Asian monsoon taking place from June until August; these are also the hottest months, with average temperatures of 21 to 25 °C (70 to 77 °F), and daytime highs often above 30 °C (86 °F).
|Climate data for Pyongyang (1971-2000) Extremes (1961 - present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||10.0
|Average high °C (°F)||−0.8
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−5.8
|Average low °C (°F)||−10.7
|Record low °C (°F)||−26.5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||12.2
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||5.2||4.2||5.1||6.7||8.1||8.7||14.4||11.0||7.2||6.1||7.3||5.9||89.9|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organization|
|Source #2: Pogoda.ru (Extremes) |
Major government and other public offices are located in Pyongyang, which is constitutionally designated as the country's capital. The seat of the Workers' Party Central Committee is located in Haenbangsan-dong, Chung-guyok. Pyongyang People's Committee is located in Haebangsan-dong, Chung-guyok. The Cabinet of North Korea is located in Jongro-dong, Chung-guyok.
Pyongyang is also the seat of all major North Korean security institutions. The largest of them, the Ministry of People's Security, has 130,000 employees working in 12 bureaus. These oversee activities as diverse as police services, security of party officials, classified documents, census, civil registrations, large-scale public construction, traffic control, fire safety, civil defense, public health and customs. Another major structure based in the city is the State Security Department, whose 30,000 personnel manage intelligence, political prison systems, military industrial security and entry and exit management.
The politics and management of the city is dominated by the Workers' Party of Korea, as they are in the national level. The city is managed by the Pyongyang Party Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea. The supreme standing legislative body is the Pyongyang People's Committee.
Administrative status and divisions
P'yŏngyang is divided into 19 wards (ku- or guyŏk) (the city proper) and 2 counties (kun or gun).
Pyongyang was reduced to rubble during the Korean War and has been entirely rebuilt according to a design reflecting Kim Il-Sung's vision. His dream was to create a capital that would boost the morale and ego of Koreans in the post-war years. The result was a city with wide, tree-lined boulevards and monumental public buildings with terraced landscaping, mosaics and decorated ceilings. Foreign visitors have described Pyongyang as one of the most beautiful cities they have seen; its Russian-style architecture makes it reminiscent of a Siberian city during winter snowfall, although edifices of traditional Korean design somewhat soften this perception. In summer, it is notable for its rivers, willow trees, flowers and parkland.
The streets are laid out in a north-south, east-west grid, giving the city an orderly appearance. North Korean designers applied the Swedish experience of self-sufficient urban neighbourhoods throughout the entire country, and Pyongyang is no exception. Its inhabitants are mostly divided into administrative units of 5,000 to 6,000 people (dong). These units all have similar sets of amenities including a food store, a barber shop, a tailor, a public bathhouse, a post office, a clinic, a library and others. Many residents occupy high-rise apartment buildings. One of Kim Il-Sung's priorities while designing Pyongyang was to limit the population. Authorities maintain a restrictive regime of movement into the city, making it atypical of East Asia as it is silent, uncrowded and spacious.
Structures in Pyongyang are divided into three major architectural categories: monuments, buildings with traditional Korean motifs and high-rises. Some of North Korea's most recognisable landmarks are monuments, like the Juche Tower, the Arch of Triumph and the Mansu Hill Grand Monument. The first of them is a 170-meter granite spire symbolizing the Juche ideology. It was completed in 1982 and contains 25,550 granite blocks, one for each day of Kim Il-Sung's life up to that point. By far the most prominent building on Pyongyang's skyline is Ryugyong Hotel, the 7th highest building in the world terms of floor count and one of the tallest hotels in the world, which has never opened.
High-rise apartment buildings dominate the cityscape. The government launched a mass construction campaign aiming to build 100,000 new homes in 2011. The Changjon Street Apartment Complex was part of this effort. Construction of the complex began after late leader Kim Jong-il reportedly described the area as "pitiful". Other housing complexes are being upgraded as well, but most are still poorly insulated while elevators and central heating in them remain rare.
The capital has been completely redesigned since the Korean War (1950–53). It is designed with wide avenues, imposing monuments and monolithic buildings. The tallest structure in the city is the uncompleted 330-metre (1,080 ft) Ryugyong Hotel. This hotel has 105 floors and encloses 361,000 square metres (3,890,000 sq ft) of floor space. The original plan called for crowning it with seven revolving restaurants.
Notable landmarks in the city include:
- the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
- the Arch of Triumph (heavily inspired by, but larger than, Paris's Arc de Triomphe)
- the reputed birthplace of Kim Il-sung at Mangyongdae Hill at the city outskirts
- Juche Tower
- two large stadiums:
- the Mansu Hill complex, including the Korean Revolution Museum
- Kim Il-sung Square
- Yanggakdo International Hotel
Pyongyang TV Tower is a minor landmark. Other visitor attractions include the Korea Central Zoo. The Arch of Reunification has a map of a united Korea supported by two concrete Korean women dressed in traditional dress straddling the Reunification Highway, which stretches from Pyongyang to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Pyongyang served as the provincial capital of Pyeongan province until 1946, and Pyongyang cuisine shares the general culinary tradition of the Pyeongan province. The most famous local food is Pyongyang naengmyeon, or also called mul naengmyeon or just simply naengmyeon. Naengmyeon literally means "cold noodles", while the affix mul refers to water because the dish is served in a cold broth. Naengmyeon consists of thin and chewy buckwheat noodles in a cold meat-broth with dongchimi (watery kimchi) and topped with a slice of sweet Korean pear. Pyongyang naengmyeon was originally eaten in homes built with ondol (traditional underfloor heating) during the cold winter, so it is also humorously called "Pyongyang deoldeori" (shivering in Pyongyang). Pyongyang locals sometimes enjoyed it as a haejangguk, which is any type of food eaten as a hangover-cure, usually a warm soup.
Another representative Pyongyang dish, Taedonggang sungeoguk, translates as "trout soup from the Taedong River". The soup features trout (abundant in the Taedong River) along with black peppercorns and salt. It is served[by whom?] as a courtesy to important guests visiting Pyongyang. Therefore, the question "How good was the trout soup?" is commonly used to greet people returning from Pyongyang. Another local specialty, Pyongyang onban (literally "warm rice of Pyongyang"), comprises freshly cooked rice topped with sliced mushrooms, chicken, and a couple of bindaetteok (pancakes made from ground mung beans and vegetables).
Pyongyang is North Korea's industrial center. Thanks to the abundance of natural resources like coal, iron and limestone, as well as good land and water transport systems, it was the first industrial city to emerge in North Korea after the Korean War. Light and heavy industries are both present and have developed in parallel. Heavy manufactures include cement, industrial ceramics, munitions and weapons, but mechanical engineering remains the core industry. Light industries in Pyongyang and its vicinity include textiles, footwear and food, among others. Special emphasis is put on the production and supply of fresh produce and subsidiary crops in farms on the city's outskirts. Other crops include rice, corn and soybeans. Pyongyang aims to achieve self-sufficiency in meat production. High-density facilities raise pigs, chicken and other livestock.
The city still experiences a shortage of electricity. To solve this problem, two power stations - Huichon Power Stations 1 and 2 - were built in Chagang Province and supply the city through direct transmission lines. A second phase of the power expansion project was launched in January 2013, consisting of a series of small dams along the Chongchon River. The first two power stations have a maximum generating capacity of 300 megawatts (MW), while the 10 dams to be built under second phase are expected to generate about 120 MW. In addition, the city has several existing or planned thermal power stations. These include Pyongyang TPS with a capacity of 500 MW, East Pyongyang TPS with a capacity of 50 MW, and Kangdong TPS which is under construction.
Pyongyang is home to several large department stores including the Pothonggang Department Store, Pyongyang Department Store No. 1, Pyongyang Department Store No. 2, Kwangbok Department Store, Ragwon Department Store, Pyongyang Station Department Store, and the Pyongyang Children’s Department Store.
The city also has Hwanggumbol Shop, a chain of state-owned convenience stores supplying goods at prices cheaper than those in jangmadang markets. Hwanggumbol Shops are specifically designed to control North Korea's expanding markets by attracting consumers and guaranteeing the circulation of money in government-operated stores.
Pyongyang is also the main transport hub of the country: it has a dense network of roads, railways and air routes which link it to both foreign and domestic destinations. It is the starting point of inter-regional highways reaching Nampo, Wonsan and Kaesong. Pyongyang railway station serves the main railway lines, including the Pyongui Line and the Pyongbu Line. Regular international rail services to Beijing and Moscow are also available. A journey to Beijing takes about 25 hours and 25 minutes (K27 from Beijing/K28 from Pyongyang, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays); a journey to Moscow takes 6 days. The city also connects to the Eurasian Land Bridge via the Trans-Siberian Railway. A high-speed rail link to Wonsan is planned.
The Metro, tram and trolleybus systems are used mainly by commuters as a primary means of urban transportation. Cycle lanes were introduced on main thoroughfares in July 2015. There are few cars in the city. Cars are a symbol of status in the country due to their scarcity as a result of restrictions on import because of international sanctions and domestic regulations. Some roads are also reported be in a poor condition.
State-owned Air Koryo (고려항공, Koryo Hang-Gong) has scheduled flights from Pyongyang Sunan International Airport to Beijing (PEK), Shenyang (SHE), Vladivostok (VVO), Moscow (SVO), Bangkok (BKK), Khabarovsk (KHV), Kuala Lumpur (KUL), and Shanghai (PVG). The only domestic destinations are Hamhung, Wonsan, Chongjin, Hyesan and Samjiyon. In April 2008, Air China launched a regular service between Beijing and Pyongyang.
Education and science
Kim Il-Sung University (North Korea's oldest university) was established in 1946. It has seven colleges, 14 faculties and 16 other institutes, graduate schools and university units. These include the primary medical education and health personnel training unit, the Medical College; a Physics Faculty which covers a range of studies including theoretical physics, optical science, geophysics and astrophysics; an Atomic Energy Institute and a Human Evolution Research Office which studies human evolution through a Juche point of view. Kim Il-Sung University also has its own publishing house, sports club (Ryongnamsan Sports Team), Revolutionary museum, Nature museum, libraries, a gym, indoor swimming pool and educator apartment houses. Its two main buildings were completed in 1965 (Building 1) and 1972 (Building 2). A third building on campus has been planned as well.
Other higher education establishments include Kim Chaek University of Technology, Pyongyang University of Music and Dance and Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies. Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is the country's first private university where most of the lecturers are American and courses are carried out in English. A "Science and Technology Hall" is under construction on Ssuk Islet. Its stated purpose is to contribute to the "informatization of educational resources" by centralizing teaching materials, compulsory literature and experimental data for state-level use in a digital format.
Sosong-guyok hosts a 20 MeV cyclotron called MGC-20. The initial project was approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1983 and funded by the IAEA, the United States and the North Korean government. The cyclotron was ordered from the Soviet Union in 1985 and constructed between 1987 and 1990. It is used for student training, production of medical isotopes for nuclear medicine as well as studies in biology, chemistry and physics.
Medical center includes the Red Cross Hospital, the First People's Hospital which is located near Moran Hill and was the first people's hospital to be built in the North of Korea after the liberation of Korea in 1945, the Second People’s Hospital, Ponghwa Recuperative Center (also known as Ponghwa Clinic or Presidential Clinic) located in Sokam-dong, Potonggang-guyok, 1.5 km northwest of Kim Il-sung Square, Pyongyang Medical School Hospital, Namsan Treatment Center which is adjacent Pyongyang's Maternity Hospital, Taesongsan General Hospital, Kim Man-yoo Hospital, Staff Treatment Center and Okryu Children's Hospital.
Sŏsŏng ward during the 1920s
Arch of Reunification, a monument to the goal of a reunified Korea
Twin towns – Sister cities
Pyongyang is twinned with:
- Kathmandu, Nepal
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Moscow, Russia
- Tianjin, China
- Baghdad, Iraq
- Georgetown, Guyana
- Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
- Nanglang-state is different from Lelang Commandery.
- Lankov, Andrei (16 March 2005). "North Korea's missionary position". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
By the early 1940s Pyongyang was by far the most Protestant of all major cities of Korea, with some 25–30% of its adult population being church-going Christians. In missionary circles this earned the city the nickname "Jerusalem of the East".
- Caryl, Christian (15 September 2007). "Prayer In Pyongyang". The Daily Beast. The Newsweek/Daily Beast Co. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
It's hard to say how many covert Christians the North has; estimates range from the low tens of thousands to 100,000. Christianity came to the peninsula in the late 19th century. Pyongyang, in fact, was once known as the 'Jerusalem of the East.'
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- Interactive virtual tour Aerial view of Pyongyang city
- Super High Resolution Image Panoramic view of Pyongyang city
- on YouTube
- North Korea Uncovered, (North Korea Google Earth), a comprehensive mapping of North Korea, including all of the locations mentioned above, on Google Earth
- Holidays in Pyongyang
- Instagram photos of Pyongyang
- City profile of Pyongyang