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Taedong River

Coordinates: 38°51′54″N 125°31′32″E / 38.86500°N 125.52556°E / 38.86500; 125.52556
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Taedong River
Map of the Taedong River
CountryNorth Korea
Physical characteristics
 • locationRangrim Mountains, South Hamgyong
 • location
West Korea Bay
Length439 kilometers (273 mi)[1]
Basin size20,344 km2 (7,855 sq mi)
Taedong River
Revised RomanizationDaedong-gang

The Taedong River (Korean대동강)[a] is a large river in North Korea. The river rises in the Rangrim Mountains of the country's north where it then flows southwest into Korea Bay at Namp'o.[3] In between, it runs through the country's capital, Pyongyang. Along the river are landmarks such as the Juche Tower and Kim Il-sung Square.

The river is 439 km or 272.7 mi in length, and is generally deep. It is the fifth-longest river on the Korean peninsula and the second-longest in North Korea. Pyongyang is approximately 110 km upstream from the mouth, Sunchon 192 km upstream, and Taehŭng 414 km upstream.[citation needed] Because of its depth, it is widely used for river transport; it is navigable by large ships up to 65 km inland, although most commercial traffic stops at Songrim.


The kingdom of Koguryo was founded on its shores. Many archeological sites dating to the neolithic and Bronze Ages have been found along the river, as well as relics and ruins from Koguryo. It was also once known as the Pae River (패수; 浿水; P’aesu).[4]

The Taedong River basin is believed to be the location of the Taedonggang Culture, the historical centre of the Korean nation, when its ancient civilization flourished in 3000 BC.

Dams and bridges[edit]

In 1954, a bridge going over the Taedong River was partially destroyed during the Korean War. Despite the damage to the bridge, several hundred Koreans used it to cross the Taedong and flee south.[5] Max Desfor's photograph of the event, Flight of Refugees Across Wrecked Bridge in Korea, would win the 1951 Pulitzer Prize in Photography.[6]

In 1986, the government completed the 8-km-long West Sea Barrage, with three locks and 36 sluices, at the mouth of the Taedong River near Namp'o.[3] The dam acts to control floodwater and to irrigate lands newly reclaimed from the Korea Gulf.[3] The dam prevents mixing of the outgoing river water with seawater, leading to an increase of contaminants concentration.[7] Other dams, such as the Nyongwon Power Station, have been built to provide energy to the country.[8]

In Pyongyang, there are six bridges on the Taedong, including the Okryu Bridge, Rungra Bridge, and Taedong Bridge.[9]



  1. ^ In the 19th century, the Taedong was spelled Tai-tang in Western texts (the "Tai-tang River" or "Tai-tang Kang").[2]



  1. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica Online : Taedong River". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. ^ EB (1878), p. 390.
  3. ^ a b c Suh, Dae-Sook (1987) "North Korea in 1986: Strengthening the Soviet Connection" Asian Survey 27(1): pp. 56-63, page 62
  4. ^ (1973) Transactions of the Korea branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. vol. 48, page 59
  5. ^ Rubin, Cyma; Newton, Eric (eds.). The Pulitzer Prize Photographs. Newseum Inc. ISBN 978-0-9799521-3-5.
  6. ^ "Max Desfor of Associated Press". pulitzer.org. 1951. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  7. ^ Tenenbaum, David J. (2005) "International Health: North Korean Catastrophe" Environmental Health Perspectives 113(1): p. A26, page A26
  8. ^ (209) Korea Today No. 640[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "옥류교 [Okryu Bridge]", Doosan Encyclopedia, retrieved 2010-07-02[permanent dead link]


  • "Corea" , 'Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. VI, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1878, pp. 390–394.

See also[edit]

38°51′54″N 125°31′32″E / 38.86500°N 125.52556°E / 38.86500; 125.52556