Pyongyang facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Directly governed city
|Pyongyang Directly Governed City
|• McCune–Reischauer||P'yŏngyang Chikhalsi|
|• Revised Romanization||Pyeongyang Jikhalsi|
|• Official North Korean variant||Phyŏngyang Chikhalsi|
Clockwise from top left: Pyongyang skyline and the Taedong River; Juche Tower; Arch of Triumph; Tomb of King Tongmyeong; Puhŭng Station in the Pyongyang Metro; Arch of Reunification; and Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
"Capital of Willows"
|• Total||2,000 km2 (800 sq mi)|
Pyŏngyang (평양 직할시 in hangul, 平壤直轄市 in hanja) is the capital and biggest city in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea or DPRK (North Korea). The government does not want people to know anything so Pyongyang is one of the few places in North Korea that foreigners (outside people) can travel (go) to.
Pyongyang is a closed city meaning that North Koreans can't just go there. They must apply for a permit or be high up in the military. It is the most advanced city in the country which allows tourists to go there. Pyongyang does not really show what North Korea is really like as the government uses it to give the illusion to tourists that the country is not poor. The city is kept very clean and littering is strictly not allowed. The city is home to the DPRK's only fast food restaurant which only the most privileged North Koreans go to (a meal would be worth around a weeks wages for the average person there). Many shops there have plastic food on display in the windows to make tourists think that there is lots of food in the country when in fact, food is scarce.
The city has lots of nice attractions like the statues of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il at Mansudae hill. The Juche tower is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the country, towering over the Taedong River across from Kim Il-Sung square. It also has the worlds deepest subway system. Pyongyang has many large parks and wide avenues as well as a large sports stadium. The city is also the location of the embalmed bodies of the two leaders, Il-Sung and Jong-Il in the Kumsusan Palace of the sun.
Pyongyang is home to the 105-storey hotel, Ryugyong Hotel. Construction started in 1987 and the exterior was completed twenty-four years later in 2011. It was originally intended as a propaganda device to make North Korea look wealthy when a South Korean recently built the world's then-tallest building. The hotel to this day remains empty and does not accept guests. It is a scary monument to the government's problems.
The population of Pyongyang is 3,255,388.
Pyongyang is in the west-central part of North Korea; the city lies on a flat plain about 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of the Korea Bay, an arm of the Yellow Sea. The Taedong River flows southwestward through the city toward the Korea Bay. The Pyongyang plain, where the city is situated, is one of the two large plains on the Western coast of the Korean peninsula, the other being the Chaeryong plain. Both have an area of approximately 500 square kilometers.
Pyongyang has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dwa), featuring hot, humid summers and cold winters. Cold, dry winds can blow from Siberia in winter, making conditions very cold; the low temperature is usually below freezing between November and early March, although the average daytime high is at least a few degrees above freezing in every month except January. The winter is generally much drier than summer, with snow falling for 37 days on average.
The transition from the cold, dry winter to the warm, wet summer occurs rather quickly between April and early May, and there is a similarly abrupt return to winter conditions in late October and November. Summers are generally hot and humid, with the East Asian monsoon taking place from June until August; these are also the hottest months, with average temperatures of 21 to 25 °C (70 to 77 °F), and daytime highs often above 30 °C (86 °F).
Major government and other public offices are located in Pyongyang, which is constitutionally designated as the country's capital. The seat of the Workers' Party Central Committee and the Pyongyang People's Committee are located in Haebangsan-dong, Chung-guyok. The Cabinet of North Korea is located in Jongro-dong, Chung-guyok.
Pyongyang is also the seat of all major North Korean security institutions. The largest of them, the Ministry of People's Security, has 130,000 employees working in 12 bureaus. These oversee activities including: police services, security of party officials, classified documents, census, civil registrations, large-scale public construction, traffic control, fire safety, civil defense, public health and customs. Another significant structure based in the city is the State Security Department, whose 30,000 personnel manage intelligence, political prison systems, military industrial security and entry and exit management.
The politics and management of the city is dominated by the Workers' Party of Korea, as they are in the national level. The city is managed by the Pyongyang Party Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea and its chairman is the de facto mayor. The supreme standing state organ is the Pyongyang People's Committee, responsible for everyday events in support of the city. This includes following local Party guidance as channeled through the Pyongyang Party Committee, the distribution of resources prioritised to Pyongyang, and providing support to KWP and internal security agency personnel and families.
Administrative status and divisions
P'yŏngyang is divided into 18 wards (ku- or guyŏk) (the city proper) and 2 counties (kun or gun).
- Chung-guyok (중구역; 中區域)
- Pyongchon-guyok (평천구역; 平川區域)
- Potonggang-guyok (보통강구역; 普通江區域)
- Moranbong-guyok (모란봉구역; 牡丹峰區域)
- Sŏsŏng-guyŏk (서성구역; 西城區域)
- Songyo-guyok (선교구역; 船橋區域)
- Tongdaewŏn-guyŏk (동대원구역; 東大院區域)
- Taedonggang-guyŏk (대동강구역; 大同江區域)
- Sadong-guyŏk (사동구역; 寺洞區域)
- Taesong-guyok (대성구역; 大城區域)
- Mangyongdae-guyok (만경대구역; 萬景台區域)
- Hyongjesan-guyok (형제산구역; 兄弟山區域)
- Ryongsong-guyok (룡성구역; 龍城區域)
- Samsok-guyok (삼석구역; 三石區域)
- Ryokpo-guyok (력포구역; 力浦區域)
- Rakrang-guyok (락랑구역; 樂浪區域)
- Sunan-guyŏk (순안구역; 順安區域)
- Unjong-guyok (은정구역; 恩情區域)
- Kangdong County (강동군; 江東郡)
- Kangnam County (강남군; 江南郡)
Foreign media reports in 2010 stated that Kangnam-gun, Chunghwa-gun, Sangwŏn-gun, and Sŭngho-guyŏk had been transferred to the administration of neighboring North Hwanghae province. However, Kangnam-gun was returned to Pyongyang in 2011.
After being destroyed during the Korean War, Pyongyang was entirely rebuilt according to Kim Il-sung's vision, which was to create a capital that would boost morale in the post-war years. The result was a city with wide, tree-lined boulevards and public buildings with terraced landscaping, mosaics and decorated ceilings. Its Russian-style architecture makes it reminiscent of a Siberian city during winter snowfall, although edifices of traditional Korean design somewhat soften this perception. In summer, it is notable for its rivers, willow trees, flowers and parkland.
The streets are laid out in a north-south, east-west grid, giving the city an orderly appearance. North Korean designers applied the Swedish experience of self-sufficient urban neighbourhoods throughout the entire country, and Pyongyang is no exception. Its inhabitants are mostly divided into administrative units of 5,000 to 6,000 people (dong). These units all have similar sets of amenities including a food store, a barber shop, a tailor, a public bathhouse, a post office, a clinic, a library and others. Many residents occupy high-rise apartment buildings. One of Kim Il-sung's priorities while designing Pyongyang was to limit the population. Authorities maintain a restrictive regime of movement into the city, making it atypical of East Asia as it is silent, uncrowded and spacious.
Structures in Pyongyang are divided into three major architectural categories: monuments, buildings with traditional Korean motifs and high-rises. Some of North Korea's most recognisable landmarks are monuments, like the Juche Tower, the Arch of Triumph and the Mansu Hill Grand Monument. The first of them is a 170-meter granite spire symbolizing the Juche ideology. It was completed in 1982 and contains 25,550 granite blocks, one for each day of Kim Il-sung's life up to that point. The most prominent building on Pyongyang's skyline is Ryugyong Hotel, the seventh highest building in the world terms of floor count, the tallest unoccupied building in the world, and one of the tallest hotels in the world. It has yet to open.
Pyongyang has a rapidly evolving skyline, dominated by high-rise apartment buildings. A construction boom began with the Changjon Street Apartment Complex, which was completed in 2012. Construction of the complex began after late leader Kim Jong-il described Changjon Street as "pitiful". Other housing complexes are being upgraded as well, but most are still poorly insulated, and lacking elevators and central heating. An urban renewal program continued under Kim Jong-un's leadership, with the old apartments of the 1970s and '80s replaced by taller high rise buildings and leisure parks like the Kaesong Youth Park, as well as renovations of older buildings. In 2018, the city was described as unrecognizable compared to five years before.
Notable landmarks in the city include:
- the Ryugyong Hotel
- the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
- the Arch of Triumph (heavily inspired by, but larger than, Paris's Arc de Triomphe)
- the birthplace of Kim Il-sung at Mangyongdae Hill at the city outskirts
- Juche Tower
- two large stadiums:
- Rungrado 1st of May Stadium
- Kim Il-sung Stadium
- the Mansu Hill complex, including the Korean Revolution Museum
- Kim Il-sung Square
- Yanggakdo International Hotel
Pyongyang TV Tower is a minor landmark. Other visitor attractions include the Korea Central Zoo. The Arch of Reunification has a map of a united Korea supported by two concrete Korean women dressed in traditional dress straddling the Reunification Highway, which stretches from Pyongyang to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Pyongyang served as the provincial capital of South Pyongan Province until 1946, and Pyongyang cuisine shares the general culinary tradition of the Pyongan province. The most famous local food is Pyongyang raengmyŏn, or also called mul raengmyŏn or just simply raengmyŏn. Raengmyŏn literally means "cold noodles", while the affix mul refers to water because the dish is served in a cold broth. Raengmyŏn consists of thin and chewy buckwheat noodles in a cold meat-broth with dongchimi (watery kimchi) and topped with a slice of sweet Korean pear.
Pyongyang raengmyŏn was originally eaten in homes built with ondol (traditional underfloor heating) during the cold winter, so it is also called "Pyongyang deoldeori" (shivering in Pyongyang). Pyongyang locals sometimes enjoyed it as a haejangguk, which is any type of food eaten as a hangover-cure, usually a warm soup.
Another representative Pyongyang dish, Taedonggang sungeoguk, translates as "trout soup from the Taedong River". The soup features trout (abundant in the Taedong River) along with black peppercorns and salt. Traditionally, it has been served to guests visiting Pyongyang. Therefore, there is a common saying, "How good was the trout soup?", which is used to greet people returning from Pyongyang. Another local specialty, Pyongyang onban (literally "warm rice of Pyongyang") comprises freshly cooked rice topped with sliced mushrooms, chicken, and a couple of bindaetteok (pancakes made from ground mung beans and vegetables).
In 2018, there were many high quality restaurants in Pyongyang with Korean and international food, and imported alcoholic beverages. Famous restaurants include Okryu-gwan and Ch'ongryugwan. Some street foods exist in Pyongyang, where vendors operate food stalls. Foreign foods like hamburgers, fries, pizza, and coffee are easily found. There is an active nightlife with late-night restaurants and karaoke.
The city has water parks, amusement parks, skating rinks, health clubs, a shooting range, and a dolphinarium.
- See also: Sport in North Korea
Pyongyang is North Korea's industrial center. Thanks to the abundance of natural resources like coal, iron and limestone, as well as good land and water transport systems, it was the first industrial city to emerge in North Korea after the Korean War. Light and heavy industries are both present and have developed in parallel. Heavy manufactures include cement, industrial ceramics, munitions and weapons, but mechanical engineering remains the core industry. Light industries in Pyongyang and its vicinity include textiles, footwear and food, among others. Special emphasis is put on the production and supply of fresh produce and subsidiary crops in farms on the city's outskirts. Other crops include rice, corn and soybeans. Pyongyang aims to achieve self-sufficiency in meat production. High-density facilities raise pigs, chicken and other livestock.
The city still experiences frequent shortages of electricity. To solve this problem, two power stations - Huichon Power Stations 1 and 2 - were built in Chagang Province and supply the city through direct transmission lines. A second phase of the power expansion project was launched in January 2013, consisting of a series of small dams along the Chongchon River. The first two power stations have a maximum generating capacity of 300 megawatts (MW), while the 10 dams to be built under second phase are expected to generate about 120 MW. In addition, the city has several existing or planned thermal power stations. These include Pyongyang TPS with a capacity of 500 MW, East Pyongyang TPS with a capacity of 50 MW, and Kangdong TPS which is under construction.
Pyongyang is home to several large department stores including the Pothonggang Department Store, Pyongyang Department Store No. 1, Pyongyang Department Store No. 2, Kwangbok Department Store, Ragwon Department Store, Pyongyang Station Department Store, and the Pyongyang Children’s Department Store.
The city also has Hwanggumbol Shop, a chain of state-owned convenience stores supplying goods at prices cheaper than those in the jangmadang markets. Hwanggumbol Shops are specifically designed to control North Korea's expanding markets by attracting consumers and guaranteeing the circulation of money in government-operated stores.
Pyongyang is also the main transport hub of the country: it has a network of roads, railways and air routes which link it to both foreign and domestic destinations. It is the starting point of inter-regional highways reaching Nampo, Wonsan and Kaesong. Pyongyang railway station serves the main railway lines, including the Pyongui Line and the Pyongbu Line. Regular international rail services to Beijing, the Chinese border city of Dandong and Moscow are also available.
A rail journey to Beijing takes about 25 hours and 25 minutes (K27 from Beijing/K28 from Pyongyang, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays); a journey to Dandong takes about 6 hours (daily); a journey to Moscow takes six days. The city also connects to the Eurasian Land Bridge via the Trans-Siberian Railway. A high-speed rail link to Wonsan is planned.
The Metro, tram and trolleybus systems are used mainly by commuters as a primary means of urban transportation. Cycle lanes were introduced on main thoroughfares in July 2015. There are relatively few cars in the city. Cars are a symbol of status in the country due to their scarcity as a result of restrictions on import because of international sanctions and domestic regulations. Some roads are also reported to be in poor condition. However, by 2018, Pyongyang had begun to experience traffic jams.
State-owned Air Koryo has scheduled international flights from Pyongyang Sunan International Airport to Beijing (PEK), Shenyang (SHE), Vladivostok (VVO), Shanghai (PVG) and Dandong. The only domestic destinations are Hamhung, Wonsan, Chongjin, Hyesan and Samjiyon. Since 31 March 2008, Air China launched a regular service between Beijing and Pyongyang, although Air China's flights are often canceled due to the lack of passengers.
Education and science
Kim Il-sung University, North Korea's oldest university, was established in 1946. It has seven colleges, 14 faculties and 16 other institutes, graduate schools and university units. These include the primary medical education and health personnel training unit, the medical college; a physics faculty which covers a range of studies including theoretical physics, optical science, geophysics and astrophysics; an atomic energy institute and a human evolution research office which studies human evolution through a Juche point of view. Kim Il-sung University also has its own publishing house, sports club (Ryongnamsan Sports Club), revolutionary museum, nature museum, libraries, a gym, indoor swimming pool and educator apartment houses. Its two main buildings were completed in 1965 (Building 1) and 1972 (Building 2). A third building on campus is planned.
Other higher education establishments include Kim Chaek University of Technology, Pyongyang University of Music and Dance and Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies. Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) is the country's first private university where most of the lecturers are American and courses are carried out in English. A science and technology hall is under construction on Ssuk Islet. Its stated purpose is to contribute to the "informatization of educational resources" by centralizing teaching materials, compulsory literature and experimental data for state-level use in a digital format.
Sosong-guyok hosts a 20 MeV cyclotron called MGC-20. The initial project was approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1983 and funded by the IAEA, the United States and the North Korean government. The cyclotron was ordered from the Soviet Union in 1985 and constructed between 1987 and 1990. It is used for student training, production of medical isotopes for nuclear medicine as well as studies in biology, chemistry and physics.
Medical centers include the Red Cross Hospital, the First People's Hospital which is located near Moran Hill and was the first hospital to be built in North Korea after the liberation of Korea in 1945, the Second People's Hospital, Ponghwa Recuperative Center (also known as Bonghwa Clinic or Presidential Clinic) located in Sokam-dong, Potonggang-guyok, 1.5 km (0.93 mi) northwest of Kim Il-sung Square, Pyongyang Medical School Hospital, Namsan Treatment Center which is adjacent Pyongyang's Maternity Hospital, Taesongsan General Hospital, Kim Man-yoo Hospital, Staff Treatment Center and Okryu Children's Hospital.
Pyongyang is twinned with:
- Algiers, Algeria
- Baghdad, Iraq
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Kathmandu, Nepal
- Moscow, Russia
- Tianjin, China
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