Gangwon-do was one of the Eight Provinces of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. The province was formed in 1395, and derived its name from the names of the principal cities of Gangneung (강릉; 江陵) and the provincial capital Wonju (원주; 原州).
In 1895, Gangwon-do was replaced by the Districts of Chuncheon (Chuncheon-bu; 춘천부; 春川府) in the west and Gangneung (Gangneung-bu; 강릉부; 江陵府) in the east. (Wonju became part of Chungju District.)
In 1896, Korea was redivided into thirteen provinces, and the two districts were merged to re-form Gangwon-do Province. Although Wonju rejoined Gangwon-do province, the provincial capital was moved to Chuncheon, where it remains today.
In 1945, Gangwon-do (along with the rest of Korea) was divided by the 38th parallel north in 1945 into U.S. American and Soviet zones of occupation in the south and north respectively, which led to Wonsan joining the province's northern half in 1946 to serve as its administrative center. In 1948, the southern half of the province became part of the new Republic of Korea. As a result of the Korean WarArmistice Agreement of 1953, the boundary between the South and North Korean portions of the province was shifted northward to the Military Demarcation Line. The province's boundaries have remained the same since 1953.
The main cities in the province are Chuncheon (the provincial capital), Gangneung, Sokcho, Wonju, and Donghae. Seoraksan (mountain; 1,708 m) and Mt. Odae (1,563 m) with its ski run, attract a large number of national tourists. Both are located in national parks in the Taebaek Mountains. South Korea's largest limestone cave, Hwanseongul, receives over one million visitors a year.
Gangwon-do and its North Korean counterpart Kangwŏn are together referred to as the Gwandong region. The region west of the Taebaek Mountains is called Yeongseo, while the region east of the mountains is called Yeongdong. The term "Yeongdong" is frequently used in reference to transportation services from Seoul, the national capital. Thus, one might catch a bus or train on the "Yeongdong Line," or drive to Gangneung on the Yeongdong Expressway.