Map of Korea(1): North and South Hamgyong Provinces

Korean people have long called their country "Paldo Kangsan," meaning the land of eight provinces in the Korean language. Originally, the eight provinces were Hamgyong, Pyongang, Hwanghae, Kyonggi, Kangwon, Chungchong, Kyongsang and Cholla Provinces. Today, there are eleven provinces in the Korean Peinisula, as three provinces -- Chagang, Ranggang and Cheju provinces were established later.  And all these provinces except for Chagang, Ryangang, Kyonggi and Cheju provinces are divided into northern and southern parts.

The geographical condition of the Korean Peninsula which stretches long from north to south gave each province different characters according to its location.

Following is an introduction to North and South Hamgyong Provinces in the northernmost of the Korean Peninsula as the first of serials on the map of Korea;


North and South Hamgyong Provinces

ham6.jpg (82041 バイト)Illustrated by Pak Chi Hon

North Hamgyong Province, the northernmost province of Korea, borders in the upper course of the Tumen River on China and in the rower reaches of the river on Russia.

The Machonryong Mountain range (or the Paekdu mountain range) which stretches from Mt. Paekdu forms a boundary between North and South Hamgyong provinces.

A larger part of the land block in the provinces, gently rising from the East Sea Coast towards inland, is 1,000 - 2,000 meters above sea level, surrounded by the Kaema and Paekmu plateaus and the Hamgyong and Pujonryong mountain ranges.

Hamhung City, seat of government of South Hamgyong Province, is a city of heavy industries where vynalon, fertilizer, synthetic rubber, machinery equipment, metal, woolen fabrics, plastic daily necessities are mainly produced. Soho and Hungnam in the east of the city form a fishery center, and Majon in the north of the city has large recreation facilities.

Chongjin, seat of the government of North Hamgyong Province is called the "City of Iron" as iron-related industries such as iron-manufacture, steel, machine, shipbuilding, chemical and power industries are concentrated there.

Chongjin port in North Hamgyong Province is a nature-made fine harbor, which is one of the trading centers in the DPRK. In December 1959, the first group of Korean residents in Japan who repatriated to their fatherland alighted to the port from Niigata, and a monument for that was built in the port.

In view of the favorable geographical conditions of the North Hamgyong Province, the Rajin-Sonbong Free Trade Zone was established in the northernmost part of the province, and now construction work on infrastructure to improve the zone and develop it into a large industrial area is underway.

rajin.jpg (33351 バイト)
A part of Rajin-Sonbong Free Trade Zone


Sightseeing Spot


Nearly a third of north Koreas famous hot springs are located in North Hamgyong Province. The Onpo spa which has a 400 year-long history is the best-known spa in the province. The medicinal spring is said to effective for curing arthritis, high blood pressure, dermatitis and sterility.

spa2.jpg (84299 バイト)
Onpo Hot Spring

Other popular sightseeing spots are Kwanmo Peak, Mt. Wangjae, Mt. Tonghung and Mt. Chilbo, which have been called "Hamgyong Kumgang" for its beautiful scenery.

Mt. Chilbo, which means a "Mountain of Seven Gems" is so called as ancient tradition said that seven kinds of treasures such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli and pearls were buried under the mountain. But, of course, no one ever found them. However, Korean people use the word "Chilbo" to describe something very rare and beautiful. Thus, another story goes that the Chilbo means seven elements of the mountain  -- solemn mountain, valleys, falls, forests, sea, various forms of rocks and their harmony-- provide the mountain with breathtaking beauty. The Pujon Highland, Majon Amusement Park and the Sasan Recreation Center are also worth visiting.


Historical Inheritage


Some historical remains in the provinces were built in the Koryo era.

Kuchon Gak, a kind of tower, in Hamhung built in 1108, was utilized as an outpost usually and as a control center in wartime. The Kyongsongup Castle was built on level land early in the 12 century to fight foreign aggressors.

There are also old temples including the Ryonghung, Tokhung and Sangye Temples in the provinces.


Data about North and South Hamgyong Provinces

  North Hamgyong Province South Hamgyong Province

Seat of Province

Chongjin Hamhung

Size of Land

12,188.7 square meters 18,557.9 square meters


2,061,000 2,731,000
Climate Annual Parcipitation Chongjin: 500 - 700mm Hamhung: 973.3mm
Average Temperature Coastal area of North Hamgyong Province: 7.5 - 8.5

Coastal area of South Hamgyong Province: 10

Northern inland area: 2

Mineral Resources Iron ore, nickel, copper, gold, lead, zinc, coak, chrome, manganese, limestone, magnesite, iron sulfide, graphite, tungsten, talc, asbestos, apatite, kaolin, fluorite, diatomite
Agricultural Products Cereals, corn, sweet potato, potato, tobacco, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, spinach, apple, cucumber, tomato, grape, apricot, garlic, egg plant, pumpkin, radish, peach, Welsh onion, pea, sesame, adzuki bean, red pepper, flax, Japanese plum

Special Products: Ancestor Apple

"Sonjo Apple (Ancestor Apple)" in Hamgyong Provinces is one of the original apple species in Korea. The taste of a fresh Sonjo apple spreads in your mouth at a bite.

Animal Products Cattle, sheep, poultry
Marine Products Myongtae, herring, mackerel, sardine, crab, shrimp, cod, trout, saucy pike, pisculture of scallop, turbot, yellow tail, sea slug, Atka mackerel, sand fish, sand eel, sea urchin, octopus, squid, agar-agar, tangle, wakame seaweed

*Since ancient age, Hamgyong Provinces have been  famous for fishery of Myongtae, which is the most popular fish among Korean people. The fish suit to Korean cuisine, and   tastes best when it is dried. The fish once called Pugo (meaning "fish of north"). An old tradition goes that  Pugo came to be called Myongtae as a  diligent man called Tae from Myongchon village greatly contributed to Pugo fishery with making own research on fish.


Back Home

Copyright © 1998 The People's Korea. All rights reserved.