Chosin Reservoir

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Chosin Reservoir
Map showing location in North Korea
Map showing location in North Korea
Chosin Reservoir
LocationChangjin County, North Korea
Coordinates40°30′N 127°12′E / 40.500°N 127.200°E / 40.500; 127.200Coordinates: 40°30′N 127°12′E / 40.500°N 127.200°E / 40.500; 127.200
Native name장진호  (Korean)
Chosin Reservoir

The Chosin Reservoir, formally known as Lake Changjin (Korean장진호; Japanese: 長津湖), is a lake located in Changjin County, North Korea. It is most famously known for being the site of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, which was an important battle in the Korean War.


Chosin Reservoir is a man-made lake located in the northeast of the Korean peninsula.[1] The name Chosin is the Japanese pronunciation of the Korean place name Changjin, and the name stuck due to the outdated Japanese maps used by UN forces.[2] The battle's main focus was around the 78-mile (126 km) long road that connects Hungnam and Chosin Reservoir,[3] which served as the only retreat route for the UN forces.[4] Through these roads, Yudami-ni and Sinhung-ni,[a] located at the west and east side of the reservoir respectively, are connected at Hagaru-ri (now Changjin-ŭp) (40°23′02″N 127°14′56″E / 40.3838°N 127.249°E / 40.3838; 127.249). From there, the road passes through Koto-ri (40°17′02″N 127°18′00″E / 40.284°N 127.3°E / 40.284; 127.3) and eventually leads to the port of Hungnam.[5] The area around the Chosin Reservoir was sparsely populated.[6] The battle was fought over some of the roughest terrain during some of the harshest winter weather conditions of the Korean War.[7] The road was created by cutting through the hilly terrain of Korea, with steep climbs and drops. Dominant peaks, such as the Funchilin Pass and the Toktong Pass (40°23′38″N 127°09′40″E / 40.3938°N 127.161°E / 40.3938; 127.161), overlook the entire length of the road. The road's quality was poor, and in some places it was reduced to a one lane gravel trail.[5] On 14 November 1950, a cold front from Siberia descended over the Chosin Reservoir, and the temperature plunged, according to estimates, to as low as −36 °F (−38 °C).[8] The cold weather was accompanied by frozen ground, creating considerable danger of frostbite casualties, icy roads, and weapon malfunctions. Medical supplies froze; morphine syrettes had to be defrosted in a medic's mouth before they could be injected; frozen blood plasma was useless on the battlefield. Even cutting off clothing to deal with a wound risked gangrene and frostbite. Batteries used for the Jeeps and radios did not function properly in the temperature and quickly ran down.[9] The lubrication in the guns gelled and rendered them useless in battle. Likewise, the springs on the firing pins would not strike hard enough to fire the round, or would jam.[10]


The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir took place about a month after the People's Republic of China entered the Korean War and sent the People's Volunteer Army (PVA) 9th Army[b] to infiltrate the northeastern part of North Korea. On 27 November 1950, the Chinese force surprised the US X Corps commanded by Major General Edward Almond at the Chosin Reservoir area. A brutal 17-day battle in freezing weather soon followed. Between 27 November and 13 December, 30,000[7] United Nations Command troops (later nicknamed "The Chosin Few") under the field command of Major General Oliver P. Smith were encircled and attacked by about 120,000[11] Chinese troops under the command of Song Shilun, who had been ordered by Mao Zedong to destroy the UN forces. The UN forces were nevertheless able to break out of the encirclement and to make a fighting withdrawal to the port of Hungnam, inflicting heavy casualties on the Chinese. The retreat of the US Eighth Army from northwest Korea in the aftermath of the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River and the evacuation of the X Corps from the port of Hungnam in northeast Korea marked the complete withdrawal of UN troops from North Korea.

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  1. ^ The town of Sinhung-ni referred to in this article should not be confused with another identically named town located at south of Yudami-ni on the west side of Chosin Reservoir. See Appleman 1990, pp. 30, 32, 221, 376.
  2. ^ In Chinese military nomenclature, the term "army" (军) means corps, while the term "army group" (集团军) means army.


  1. ^ Russ 1999, p. 65.
  2. ^ Tucker et al. 2000, p. 108.
  3. ^ Appleman 1990, p. 32.
  4. ^ Appleman 1990, p. 29.
  5. ^ a b Appleman 1990, pp. 28–31.
  6. ^ Appleman 1990, p. 25.
  7. ^ a b Appleman 1990, p. 24.
  8. ^ Appleman 1990, p. xi.
  9. ^ Duncan, James Carl (2013). Adventures of a Tennessean. Author House. p. 190. ISBN 9781481741576.
  10. ^ Tilstra, Russell C. (2014). The Battle Rifle: Development and Use Since World War II. McFarland. p. 192. ISBN 9781476615646.
  11. ^ 叶 2007, p. 259.


  • Appleman, Roy (1990), Escaping the Trap: The US Army X Corps in Northeast Korea, 1950, vol. 14, College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Military History Series, ISBN 978-0-89096-395-1
  • Guang, Ting (光亭) (April 2007), Dong, Min Jie (董旻杰) (ed.), "Ice and Blood, Changjin Lake (冰血长津湖)", Der Strum (突击) Magazine Korean War Special Issue (in Chinese), Hohhot, Inner Mongolia: Inner Mongolian People's Publishing House (内蒙古人民出版社), ISBN 978-7-204-08166-0
  • Russ, Martin (1999), Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea 1950, New York, New York: Penguin Books, ISBN 978-0-14-029259-6
  • Roe, Patrick C. (2000), The Dragon Strikes: China and the Korean War, June-December 1950, Novato, California: Presidio, ISBN 978-0-89141-703-3
  • Tucker, Spencer C.; Kim, Jinwung; Nichols, Michael R.; Pierpaoli, Paul G. Jr.; Zehr, Norman R. (2000), Encyclopedia of the Korean War: A Political, Social, and Military History, vol. I, Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, ISBN 978-1-57607-029-1