Vehicle registration plates of North Korea

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North Korea has issued registration plates for all government and privately owned vehicles since 1947.[1] The system is loosely based on that found in Japan insofar as numerical prefixes are applied to denote a particular type or class of vehicle.

Plate types[edit]

Abbreviation Full name Romanization Translation
평양 평양직할시 Pyeongyang Jikhalsi Directly controlled city of Pyongyang
라선 라선특별시 Raseon Teukbyeolsi Specially controlled city of Rason (Rajin-Sonbong)
평남 평안남도 Pyeongan-namdo Province of South Pyongan
평북 평안북도 Pyeongan-bukdo Province of North Pyongan
자강 자강도 Jagang-do Province of Chagang
황남 황해남도 Hwanghae-namdo Province of South Hwanghae
황북 황해북도 Hwanghae-bukdo Province of North Hwanghae
강원 강원도 Gangwon-do Province of Kangwon
함남 함경남도 Hamgyeong-namdo Province of South Hamgyong
함북 함경북도 Hamgyeong-bukdo Province of North Hamgyong
량강 량강도 Ryanggang-do Province of Ryanggang

Private[edit]

Privately owned vehicles display orange plates with black characters. The first two denote the place of registration in the Hangul script. The remainder are the vehicle's actual registration number. Early examples contained up to 4 digits. Those issued since 1992 can have up to 5 digits split into two groups by a hyphen.[2]

Example of a private plate issued in Pyongyang before 1992

평양 1450

Example of a current series (post-1992) private plate issued in South Pyongan Province

평남 68-366

State-owned[edit]

State-owned vehicles follow the same format as the current private series, except that the first digit specifies the vehicle type, and the hyphen which separates the groups is optional. The prefix 4 has never been used – possibly because it is considered unlucky in Korea and most of East Asia. Taxis and cars share the same prefix, except the former will only be followed by 3 digits, whilst the latter can have up to five.

The following table explains which prefixes are allocated to which vehicles.

Numerical Prefix Vehicle Type
1 Bus
2-xxx Taxi
2-xxxx(x) Car
3 HGV
5 Ambulance or Fire Appliance
6 Police or Municipal Vehicle
7 Motorcycle

Example of a current series bus plate issued in Pyongyang

평양 15-421

Current series state-owned HGV plate issued in North Hamgyong Province

함북 33-968

Pre-1992 motorcycle plate issued in North Hamgyong Province (note that these are black on yellow)

함북 7-16

Diplomatic[edit]

Ambassadorial and diplomatic vehicles are furnished with plates containing white characters on a blue background (two shades have been observed in use and are illustrated in the examples which follow). The first character is the Hangul syllable (literal meaning: 'outside'). This is followed by up to five digits separated by a hyphen. The first two digits indicate the embassy.

Former series diplomatic plate issued to staff at the Hungarian embassy

외 07-151

Current series diplomatic plate issued to the Indonesian ambassador (note the additional hyphen and different shade of blue)

외-19 - 01

Military[edit]

Ordinary personnel vehicles of the Korean People's Army (e.g. trucks and cars) are issued with plates composed entirely of white numbers (separated into 2 groups by a hyphen) on a black background. A newer series, which is identical those found on state-owned vehicles, is known to exist – the key difference being that the prefix digit does not reflect the vehicle type. Just as is the case in Russia, the registration mark is painted in large characters on the rear of the vehicle above its regular plate.

Regular military personnel plate

5581 – 4218

New-style military personnel plate issued in Pyongyang

평양 53-2621

Heavy duty military vehicles (e.g. TELs and tanks) are not issued with registration plates. Instead, the mark is painted or stencilled onto the actual chassis with white paint.

A series of 'provisional' or 'temporary' plates exists for military vehicles which are used in a testing capacity. These are produced in the same convention as plates for state-owned vehicles but feature a red encircled star in the centre plus two diagonal bars. The words 'People's Army' ('인민군') and 'Test' ('시험') feature in the lower-right corner of the plate.

Trolleybuses[edit]

Trolleybuses are fitted with large white plates composed of nothing more than a 3-digit mark. This mark corresponds with the vehicle's unit or fleet number. Because they are unable to leave the confines of the town or city where they are based, it is not uncommon for trolleybuses in other parts of the country to carry the same mark.

Current series trolleybus registration plate

903

Kŭmgangsan Special Zone[edit]

Vehicles – specifically buses and minibuses – stationed in the Mount Kumgang Tourist Region are issued with green plates with white characters bearing the word 'Kŭmgangsan' in Hangul, followed by four digits.

금강산 2-426

United Nations[edit]

Vehicles used by U.N. delegates display black plates which feature the word 'UNICEF' ('유니쎄프') rendered in Hangul, followed by a hyphen and a serial number, in white.[3]

유니쎄프-20

References[edit]

External links[edit]