Wonsan

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Wonsan
원산시
Municipal City
Korean transcription(s)
 • Chosŏn'gŭl
 • Hancha
 • McCune-Reischauer Wŏnsan-si
 • Revised Romanization Weonsan-si
Wonsan waterfront.
Wonsan waterfront.
NK-Gangwon-Wonsan.png
Coordinates: 39°08′51″N 127°26′46″E / 39.14750°N 127.44611°E / 39.14750; 127.44611Coordinates: 39°08′51″N 127°26′46″E / 39.14750°N 127.44611°E / 39.14750; 127.44611
Country  North Korea
Province Kangwŏn
Region Kwandong
Settled c. 1800
Divisions 40 dong, 15 ri
Area
 • Total 269 km2 (104 sq mi)
Population (2000 (Est.))
 • Total 331,000
 • Dialect Seoul

Wŏnsan is a port city and naval base located in the Kangwon Province of North Korea, on the westernmost part of the Sea of Japan (East Sea of Korea) and the capital of that province. The port was opened by the occupying Japanese in 1880. Before the Korean War, it was located in a province called South Hamgyong, and during that war, it was the location of the Blockade of Wonsan. The population of the city was estimated at 331,000 in 2000. Notable people from Wŏnsan include Kim Ki Nam, diplomat and Secretary of the Workers' Party. Economically, the city is home to several major factories.

In 2013, it was announced that Wonsan will be converted into a summer destination with resorts and entertainment.[1]

History[edit]

Map of Port Lazaref

Wonsan opened as a trade port in 1880. Its original name was Wŏnsanjin (元山津), but it was also known by the Russian name of Port Lazarev (Lazaref). Under Japanese rule (1910–45) it was called Gensan (元山). In 1914 the Pyongwon Line and Gyeongwon Line railways were opened, connecting the city to Pyongyang (then known as Heijo) and Seoul (then Keijo or Kyongsong). Thus, the city gradually developed into the eastern product distribution center. Under the Japanese occupation, the city was heavily industrialized and served as an import point in the distribution of trade between Korea and mainland Japan.

Provincial borders[edit]

Wŏnsan used to be in South Hamgyong, but when provincial borders were redrawn in 1946, it joined the northern half of Kangwŏn (which had been split at the 38th parallel north into a zone under Soviet control in the north and one of American control in the south in 1945) and became its capital, as Kangwŏn's traditional capitals Wonju (1395–1895) and Chuncheon (since 1896) both were south of the 38th parallel and south of the Military Demarcation Line that replaced the 38th parallel as a border in 1953. It was heavily bombed by the United Nations during the Korean War's Blockade of Wonsan.[2] In fact, according to the official US Navy history, Wŏnsan was under continuous siege and bombardment by the American navy from March 1951 until July 27, 1953, making it the longest siege in modern American naval history. By war's end the city was a vast shell.[3]

Wŏnsan serves as the administrative center of Kangwŏn Province.

Geography and climate[edit]

Wonsan, on the East Coast of North Korea, opposite Pyongyang

Wŏnsan's area is 269 square kilometres (104 sq mi). It is located in Kangwŏn Province, on the westernmost part of the Sea of Japan (East Sea of Korea) and the east end of the Korean peninsula's neck. Mt. Changdok (Changdok-san) and Mt. Naphal (Naphal-san) are located to the west of the city. More than 20 small islands flank Wŏnsan's immediate coastal area, including Hwangt'o Island and Ryo Island. Wŏnsan is considered an excellent natural port location. Kŭmgang-san mountain is located near Wŏnsan.

The city has a borderline humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa) that is very close to a humid continental climate (Dwa).

Climate data for Wonsan, North Korea
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2.0
(35.6)
4.7
(40.5)
10.0
(50)
16.5
(61.7)
20.9
(69.6)
24.6
(76.3)
26.7
(80.1)
27.3
(81.1)
23.1
(73.6)
18.9
(66)
11.2
(52.2)
4.6
(40.3)
15.8
(60.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) −1.8
(28.8)
0.4
(32.7)
5.8
(42.4)
12.1
(53.8)
16.5
(61.7)
20.8
(69.4)
23.9
(75)
24.5
(76.1)
19.7
(67.5)
14.6
(58.3)
7.3
(45.1)
1.0
(33.8)
12.1
(53.8)
Average low °C (°F) −5.5
(22.1)
−3.6
(25.5)
1.7
(35.1)
7.7
(45.9)
12.2
(54)
17.1
(62.8)
20.9
(69.6)
21.4
(70.5)
16.3
(61.3)
10.5
(50.9)
3.6
(38.5)
−2.6
(27.3)
8.3
(46.9)
Precipitation mm (inches) 36.8
(1.449)
25.3
(0.996)
23.1
(0.909)
40.8
(1.606)
80.1
(3.154)
135.1
(5.319)
280.2
(11.031)
211.1
(8.311)
213.1
(8.39)
120.1
(4.728)
55.9
(2.201)
27.8
(1.094)
1,249.4
(49.189)
Avg. precipitation days 5.4 3.8 4.6 6.8 8.0 12.1 15.4 12.5 10.5 7.0 5.8 3.5 95.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 204.6 206.2 232.5 234.0 235.6 207.0 173.6 176.7 198.0 223.2 192.0 192.2 2,475.6
Source #1: Weather OnLine[4]
Source #2: Wetter Spiegel Online (sunshine only)[5]

Economy[edit]

Wŏnsan has an aquatic product processing factory, shipyard, chemistry enterprise, and a cement factory.

Transportation[edit]

Road and rail

Wonsan Station is on the highway system and the Kangwon Line electric railway, with connections to Pyongyang and other North Korean cities.

Air

The city has a military and civilian dual purposes air station (WON) and is equipped with 01/19 and 15/33 dual runways.

Sea

Wonsan is also the terminus of the Mangyongbong-92 ferry, the only direct connection between Japan and North Korea.

Media[edit]

The Korean Central Broadcasting Station maintains a 250-kilowatt mediumwave transmitter broadcasting on 882 kHz AM.

Education[edit]

Wŏnsan is home to Songdowon University, Kumgang University, Tonghae University, Jong Jun Thaek University of Economics, Wŏnsan University of Medicine, Jo Gun Sil University of Engineering, Wŏnsan First University of Education and Ri Su Dok University.

Sports[edit]

The city is home to Woonpasan Sports Group, a football (soccer) club that plays in the DPR Korea First Class Sports Group, North Korea's premier league.

Tourism[edit]

Wonsan is a popular tourist destination for foreigners and locals alike,[6] nearby Songdowon is a famous sea bathing destination in North Korea, as the water there is exceptionally clear. Pine trees are abundant in the surrounding area, and it has been designated a national sightseeing point. The nearby Kalma Peninsula will also open to tourists soon and will feature a new hotel and a bathing area. At present most foreigners stay at the Tongmyong hotel on the seaside near the Chok islet pier.

Songdowon International Children's Union Camp was built beside Songdowon, at 39°11′14″N 127°24′28″E / 39.18722°N 127.40778°E / 39.18722; 127.40778, and it still receives teenagers and youth for cultural exchange between North Korea and various foreign countries.

Famous scenic sites near Wŏnsan: Myongsasimni, Lake Sijung, Chongsokjon and Mt. Kumgang. Temples in the area include the Sogwangsa and Anbyon Pohyonsa Buddhist temples. German Church is the former church of Tokwon abbey, now used by Wonsan University of Agriculture.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Wonsan is divided into 40 administrative districts known as dong, as wells as fifteen villages ("ri"). The largest dong, Haebang, is further divided in two parts for administrative purposes.[7]

People from Wonsan[edit]

Sister city[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]