From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Municipal City
Korean transcription(s)
 • Chosŏn'gŭl
 • Hancha
 • McCune-Reischauer Wŏnsan-si
 • Revised Romanization Wonsan-si
View of Wonsan
View of Wonsan
Wŏnsan is located in North Korea
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, Kwannam (before 1946)
Settled c. 1800
Divisions 45 dong, 14 ri
 • Total 269 km2 (104 sq mi)
Population (2000 (Est.))
 • Total 331,000

Wŏnsan (Korean pronunciation: [wʌn.san]) is a port city and naval base located in Kangwŏn Province, North Korea, along the eastern side of the Korean Peninsula, on the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and the provincial capital. The port was opened by occupying Japanese forces in 1880. Before the 1950–1953 Korean War, it fell within the jurisdiction of the then South Hamgyŏng province, and during the war it was the location of the Blockade of Wŏnsan. The population of the city was estimated at 331,000 in 2000.[needs update] Notable people from Wŏnsan include Kim Ki Nam, diplomat and Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party. The city has several major factories.

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


Wonsan has also been known as Yonghunghang, Yuan shan in China, Genzan or Gensan in Japan, and Port Lazareva or Port Lazareff in Russia.


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. Nap'al (Nap'al-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 Ryŏ Island. Wŏnsan is considered an excellent natural port location. Kŭmgang-san mountain is located near Wŏnsan.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Wŏnsan serves as the administrative centre of Kangwŏn Province.

The City of Wŏnsan (Wŏnsan-si) is divided into 45 tong (neighbourhoods) and 14 ri (villages):

  • Changch'on-dong
  • Changdŏk-tong
  • Changsan-dong
  • Chŏkch'ŏn-dong
  • Chŏnjin-dong
  • Chungch'ŏng-dong
  • Haean-dong
  • Haebang 1-dong
  • Haebang 2-dong
  • Kaesŏn-dong
  • Kalma-dong
  • Kwangsŏk-tong
  • Kwanp'ung-dong
  • Myŏngsasimri-dong
  • Myŏngsŏk-tong
  • Naewŏnsan-dong
  • Namsan-dong
  • Panghasan-dong
  • Pogmak-tong
  • Poha-dong
  • Pongch'un-dong
  • Pongsu-dong
  • P'yŏnghwa-dong
  • Ryŏdo-dong
  • Ryongha-dong
  • Ryul-dong
  • Sambong-dong
  • Sang-dong
  • Segil-dong
  • Sinhŭng-dong
  • Sinp'ung-dong
  • Sinsŏng-dong
  • Sŏg'u-dong
  • Sŏkhyŏn-dong
  • Songch'ŏn-dong
  • Songhŭng-dong
  • Sŭngri-dong
  • Tŏksŏng-dong
  • Tongmyŏngsan-dong
  • T'ap-tong
  • Wau-dong
  • Wŏnnam 1-dong
  • Wŏnnam 2-dong
  • Wŏnsŏk-tong
  • Yangji-dong
  • Changrim-ri
  • Chuksal-li
  • Chungp'yŏng-ri
  • Ch'ilbong-ri
  • Ch'unsal-li
  • Hyŏndong-ri
  • Namch'ŏl-li
  • Raksu-ri
  • Ryongch'ŏl-li
  • Samt'ae-ri
  • Sangja-ri
  • Sinsŏng-ri
  • Susang-ri
  • Yŏngsam-ri


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

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
Daily mean °C (°F) −1.8
Average low °C (°F) −5.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 36.8
Average 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[2]
Source #2: Wetter Spiegel Online (sunshine only)[3]


Map of Port Lazaref

Wŏnsan 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 P'yŏngwŏn and Kyŏngwŏn railway lines were opened, connecting the city to P'yŏngyang (then known as Heijo) and Seoul (then Keijo or Kyŏngsŏng). Thus, the city gradually developed into an eastern product distribution centre. 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.

Statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in Wonsan

After the Korean War broke out it was captured by American and South Korean troops on 10 October, 1950 during their drive north. When they left ahead of the Chinese counter-attack, the city fell under Chinese control on 9 December, 1950. It was heavily bombed and shelled by the United Nations in the Blockade of Wonsan during the Korean War.[4] 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 the war's end the city was a vast shell.[5]

Provincial borders[edit]

Wŏnsan used to be in South Hamgyŏng, 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 Wŏnju (1395–1895) and Ch'unch'ŏn (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.


Wŏnsan has an aquatic product processing factory, shipyard, chemistry enterprise, a cement factory, as well as the 4 June Rolling Stock Works, which is one of the DPRK's largest railway rolling stock factories.[6]


Road and rail

The district of Wŏnsan-si is served by several stations on the Kangwŏn Line of the Korean State Railway, including a branch to the port; it is also connected to the national road network, and is the terminus of the P'yŏngyang-Wŏnsan Tourist Motorway and the Wŏnsan-Kŭmgangsan Highway.


The city has the dual purpose military and civilian Wŏnsan Airport (IATA: WON) equipped with 01/19 and 15/33 dual runways. Images from Google Earth from July and August 2014 indicated that major expansion was taking place, including the construction of two new runways.[7] There is also an underground air force runway which runs through a mountain, near Wonsan.[8][9][10] North Korea's first public air show, the Wonsan International Friendship Air Festival, was held at Wonsan Airport in September 2016.[11]


Wŏnsan was also the terminus of the Mangyongbong-92 ferry that operated between Wŏnsan and Niigata, which was the only direct connection between Japan and North Korea. This service was cancelled in 2006 when Japan banned North Korean ships.[12]


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


Wŏnsan is home to Songdowŏn University, Kŭmgang 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.


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


Wŏnsan has been described by the Budget North Korea Tour Operator as a popular tourist destination for foreigners and locals alike,[13] nearby Songdowŏn 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 Tongmyŏng hotel on the seaside near the Chok islet pier. In 2014, government authorities announced an ambitious plan to develop the infrastructure of the town including the construction of an underwater hotel.[14] In 2016, in a newspaper article in The Guardian, a North Korean defector described Wŏnsan in the 1990s as "a drab place, with just a few flags and painted propaganda posters providing splashes of colour".[15]

Songdowon International Children's Union Camp was built beside Songdowŏn, 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: Myŏngsasimri, Lake Sijung, Chongsokchon and Mt. Kŭmgang. Temples in the area include the Sogwangsa and Anbyon Pohyonsa Buddhist temples. German Church is the former church of Tŏkwŏn abbey, now used by the Wŏnsan University of Agriculture.

People from Wŏnsan[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ryall, Julian (27 June 2013). "North Korean leader Kim Jong-un orders the creation of nation's first beach resort". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Wonsan, North Korea". Weather OnLine. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  3. ^ "Klimadaten". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2012-04-11. 
  4. ^ "Wonsan Key Seaport Before War Started; Badly Crippled by U.N. Air and Sea Attacks". New York Times. June 30, 1951. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  5. ^ Jon Halliday and Bruce Cumings, Korea, the Unknown War (NY: Pantheon Books, 1988), p. 157.
  6. ^ Kokubu, Hayato, 将軍様の鉄道 (Shōgun-sama no Tetsudō) p. 130, 2007, Tokyo, ISBN 978-4-10-303731-6
  7. ^ http://www.nknews.org/2015/01/wonsan-airport-undergoing-major-renovation-expansion/
  8. ^ http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/north-koreas-secret-strategy-war-america-go-underground-20525
  9. ^ http://googlesightseeing.com/2008/05/north-koreas-thunderbird-runways/
  10. ^ http://freekorea.us/2013/03/08/north-koreas-underground-bond-villain-air-base-nears-completion/#sthash.9lgxG4LY.dpbs
  11. ^ North Korea shows off fighter jets at its first international air show September 26, 2016 International Business Times Retrieved February 3, 2017
  12. ^ "Ferry ban turns tide on Korean smuggling". The Washington Times. 2006-10-16. Retrieved 2015-04-15. 
  13. ^ YOUNG PIONEER TOURS! The Budget North Korea Tour Operator http://wayback.archive.org/web/20140108175337/http://www.youngpioneertours.com/tour/august-mass-games-tour/. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/23/north-korea-plans-underwater-hotel-wonsan-tourist-city
  15. ^ Ian Birrell (27 August 2016). "'How could our country lie so completely?': meet the North Korean defectors". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 
  16. ^ Acuerdo de Hermanamiento entre la ciudad de Puebla de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos y la ciudad de Wonsan, Provincia de Kangwon, de la República Popular Democrática de Corea.
  17. ^ Kim Jong Il Holds Third Summit Talks with Putin during Tour of Far Eastern Region of Russia

Further reading[edit]

  • Dormels, Rainer. North Korea's Cities: Industrial facilities, internal structures and typification. Jimoondang, 2014. ISBN 978-89-6297-167-5

External links[edit]