Wŏnsan (Korean pronunciation: [wʌn.san]), previously known as Wŏnsanjin (元山津), Port Lazarev, and Gensan (元山), is a port city and naval base located in Kangwŏn Province, North Korea, along the eastern side of the Korean Peninsula, on Sea of Japan 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 329,207 in 2013. Notable people from Wŏnsan include Kim Ki Nam, diplomat and Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party.

In 2013, it was announced that Wŏnsan would be converted into a summer destination with resorts and entertainment.[1] Having spent his childhood years there, Kim Jong-un has expressed significant interest in further developing the region, with the construction of new infrastructure such as Kalma Airport, a dual-use civilian international airport and military proving ground. A state corporation, the Wonsan Zone Development Corporation, has been established with feasibility studies for a wide variety of hotels and commercial and industrial development.[2]


Korean transcription(s)
 • McCune-ReischauerWŏnsan-si
 • Revised RomanizationWonsan-si
View of Wonsan
View of Wonsan
Map of Kangwon showing the location of Wonwan
Map of Kangwon showing the location of Wonwan
Wŏnsan is located in North Korea
Location in North Korea
Coordinates: 39°08′51″N 127°26′46″E / 39.14750°N 127.44611°ECoordinates: 39°08′51″N 127°26′46″E / 39.14750°N 127.44611°E
CountryNorth Korea
RegionKwandong, Kwannam (before 1946)
Settledc. 1800
Divisions45 dong, 14 ri
 • Total269 km2 (104 sq mi)
 • Total329,207


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


Korea north map
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

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):

  • Changchon-dong
  • Changdŏk-dong
  • Changsan-dong
  • Chŏkchŏn-dong
  • Chŏnjin-dong
  • Chungchŏng-dong
  • Haean-dong
  • Haebang 1-dong
  • Haebang 2-dong
  • Kaesŏn-dong
  • Kalma-dong
  • Kwangsŏk-dong
  • Kwanphung-dong
  • Myŏngsasimri-dong
  • Myŏngsŏk-dong
  • Naewŏnsan-dong
  • Namsan-dong
  • Panghasan-dong
  • Pogmak-dong
  • Poha-dong
  • Pongchun-dong
  • Pongsu-dong
  • Phyŏnghwa-dong
  • Ryŏdo-dong
  • Ryongha-dong
  • Ryul-dong
  • Sambong-dong
  • Sang-dong
  • Segil-dong
  • Sinhŭng-dong
  • Sinphung-dong
  • Sinsŏng-dong
  • Sŏgu-dong
  • Sŏkhyŏn-dong
  • Songchŏn-dong
  • Songhŭng-dong
  • Sŭngri-dong
  • Tŏksŏng-dong
  • Tongmyŏngsan-dong
  • Thap-dong
  • Wau-dong
  • Wŏnnam 1-dong
  • Wŏnnam 2-dong
  • Wŏnsŏk-dong
  • Yangji-dong
  • Changrim-ri
  • Chuksal-li
  • Chungp'yŏng-ri
  • Chilbong-ri
  • Chunsan-ri
  • Hyŏndong-ri
  • Namchŏn-ri
  • Raksu-ri
  • Ryongchŏn-ri
  • Samthae-ri
  • Sangja-ri
  • Sinsŏng-ri
  • Susang-ri
  • Yŏngsam-ri


The city has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dwa/Dfa).


Port Lazaref
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.

Wonsan. Doppelmonument Kim Il-sung - Kim Jong-il
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.[5] 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.[6]

City centre redevelopment

Kim Jong-un announced in 2015 plans for a $582 million redevelopment of the city centre, which is to be entirely demolished and rebuilt. A 5-star hotel, a 17-storey Wonsan International Finance Centre and a $9.6m exhibition hall are expected to be built.[7]

Provincial borders

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.[8]


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.[9] There is also an underground air force runway which runs through a mountain, near Wonsan.[10][11][12] North Korea's first public air show, the Wonsan International Friendship Air Festival, was held at Wonsan Airport in September 2016.[13]


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.[14]


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, Ri Su Dok University, and the Maritime Patrol Academy, the commissioned officer's training school of the Korean People's Navy.


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


Wonsan has long been a popular tourism destination for both Koreans and international visitors. Attractions include Songdowon beach, the site of the Songdowon International Children's Union Camp, which maintains exceptionally clear and clean water. Pine trees are abundant in the surrounding area, and it has been designated a national sightseeing point. The nearby Kalma Peninsula is to feature a new hotel and a bathing area.[15]

Wonsan Special Tourist Zone

Announced in 2014, the Wonsan Special Tourist Zone is to cover more than 400 square km and boasts 40 historical relics, 10 sand beaches, 680 tourist attractions, four mineral springs and several bathing resorts and natural lakes. As part of this development the Masikryong Ski Resort was built in 2016. A $123m golf course is planned outside the city.[16]

Famous scenic sites near Wŏnsan include Myŏngsasimri, Lake Sijung, Chongsokchon and Mt. Kŭmgang. Temples in the area include the Sogwangsa and Anbyon Pohyonsa Buddhist temples. The German Church is the former church of the Tŏkwŏn abbey, now used by the Wŏnsan University of Agriculture.

People from Wŏnsan

Sister cities

See also


  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. ^ Park, Ju-Min; Pearson, James (10 October 2017). "Special Report: In Kim Jong Un's summer palace, fun meets guns". Reuters. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Wonsan, North Korea". Weather OnLine. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
  4. ^ "Klimadaten". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ Jon Halliday and Bruce Cumings, Korea, the Unknown War (NY: Pantheon Books, 1988), p. 157.
  7. ^ "Wonsan: Where tourism meets tanks". Reuters.
  8. ^ Kokubu, Hayato, 将軍様の鉄道 (Shōgun-sama no Tetsudō) p. 130, 2007, Tokyo, ISBN 978-4-10-303731-6
  9. ^ "Wonsan airport undergoing major renovation, expansion - NK News - North Korea News". 19 January 2015.
  10. ^ Mizokami, Kyle. "North Korea's Secret Strategy in a War with America: Go Underground". The National Interest.
  11. ^ "North Korea's Thunderbird Runways". 19 May 2008.
  12. ^ "North Korea's Underground Bond-Villain Air Base Nears Completion". freekorea.us.
  13. ^ North Korea shows off fighter jets at its first international air show September 26, 2016 International Business Times Retrieved February 3, 2017
  14. ^ "Ferry ban turns tide on Korean smuggling". The Washington Times. 2006-10-16. Retrieved 2015-04-15.
  15. ^ "AUGUST MASS GAMES TOUR". YOUNG PIONEER TOURS! The Budget North Korea Tour Operator. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014.
  16. ^ Park, Ju-min; Pearson, James. "In Kim Jong Un's summer retreat, fun meets guns". Reuters.
  17. ^ "Kim Ki Nam". 5 October 2010.
  18. ^ Vyas, Utpal (2010). Soft Power in Japan-China Relations: State, Sub-state and Non-state Relations. Oxon: Routledge. p. 107. ISBN 978-1-136-85896-3.
  19. ^ "Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores - Gobierno - gob.mx" (PDF). www.sre.gob.mx.
  20. ^ "Kim Jong Il Holds Third Summit Talks with Putin during Tour of Far Eastern Region of Russia". Archived from the original on 17 August 2016.

Further reading

External links


Asian Highway 6 (AH6) is a route in the Asian Highway Network in Asia and Europe. It runs from Busan, South Korea (on ) to the border between Russia and Belarus. Altogether it is 10,533 kilometres (6,545 mi) long.

For much of its Russian stretch, AH6 coincides with the unofficial Trans-Siberian Highway and, west of the Ural Mountains, with European route E30 of the International E-road network.

Action of 12 October 1950

The Action of 12 October 1950 was a battle fought during the Korean War. While conducting Operation Wonsan against sea mines in Wonsan Harbor, a squadron of US Navy warships was attacked by Korean People's Army (KPA) batteries. During the operation, two US ships struck mines and sank while the remaining vessels and aircraft silenced the enemy guns.The KPA fired on American survivors in the water, wounding several men. In addition, the action prompted the United States Navy to begin the construction of hundreds of minesweepers for use in the conflict. It also gave the Americans an incentive to take a more aggressive stance by blockading Wonsan.

Blockade of Wonsan

The Blockade of Wonsan, or the Siege of Wonsan, from February 16, 1951 to July 27, 1953, during the Korean War, was the longest naval blockade in modern history, lasting 861 days. UN naval forces, primarily from the United States, successfully kept the strategically important city of Wonsan from being used by the North Korean Navy.The blockade diverted communist troops from the front line. North Korean artillery fired at the American fleet was mostly ineffective, and the city was heavily damaged by UN naval aircraft and warships.

Gyeongwon Line

The Gyeongwon Line is a railway line serving northeastern Gyeonggi Province in South Korea. The line is operated by Korail. The name of the line came from Gyeongseong (Seoul) and Wonsan, the original terminus of the line, in what is now North Korea.

I Corps (South Korea)

I Corps (South Korea) was created July 24, 1950, just before the Battle of Pusan Perimeter.

I Corps consisted of the 8th Infantry Division and the Capital Division.

During the battle of the Pusan Perimeter (July–September, 1950), its headquarters was at Sangju.Currently, I Corps is the largest corps in the ROK Army. I Corps is organized with three infantry divisions, one mechanized infantry division, and several separate brigades.

Kalma Airport

Kalma Airport (IATA: WOS, ICAO: ZKWS) is a dual-use civil and military airport in Wonsan, Kangwon-do, North Korea. A new international terminal and passenger ramp opened in September 2015.

Kalma Station

Kalma Station (Korean: 갈마역) is a railway station in Kalma-dong, an industrial neighbourhood in the eastern part of Wŏnsan city, Kangwŏn province, North Korea, on the Kangwŏn Line of the Korean State Railway. It is also the start of the Wŏnsanhang Line to Wŏnsan Port.Kalma station handles freight traffic destined for and shipped from Wŏnsan city, and serves several large industries, including the 4 June Rolling Stock Works, which is one of the DPRK's largest railway equipment factories.The station, along with the rest of the former Kyŏngwŏn Line, was opened by the Chosen Government Railway on 16 August 1914.

Kang Da Ri Airport

Kang Da Ri Airport is an airport in Wonsan, Kangwon-do, North Korea. It is immediately adjacent to the nearby Kang Da Ri Highway Strip.

Kangwon Line

The Kangwŏn Line is a 145.8 km (90.6 mi) electrified standard-gauge trunk line of the Korean State Railway of North Korea, connecting Kowŏn on the P'yŏngra Line to P'yŏnggang, providing an east–west connection between the P'yŏngra and Ch'ŏngnyŏn Ich'ŏn lines.Although the line continues south across the Korean Demilitarized Zone, it is non-operational south of P'yŏnggang.

The ruling gradient is 25‰, the minimum curve radius is 300 m (980 ft); there are 94 bridges with a total length of 3,493 m (11,460 ft), and 18 tunnels with a total length of 6,243 m (20,482 ft). There are 23 stations on the line, with an average distance between stations of 6.5 km (4.0 mi). Wŏnsan Station is the most important station on the line; in addition to its passenger infrastructure, locomotive and freight car maintenance facilities are located there.On 5 August 2015, South Korean President Park Geun-hye attended a ceremony launching work on the reconstruction of the 9.3 km (5.8 mi) Baengmagoji–Woljeong-ri section of Korail's Gyeongwon Line, which has been closed since the Korean War, as part of events marking the 70th anniversary of the partition of Korea. The works are to begin in October and are expected to be finished by 2017; the US $129 million project is being funded by the Unification Ministry. Park also stated her hope that the remaining 2.4 km (1.5 mi) section across the DMZ would be rebuilt soon, which would re-establish the old Kyŏngwŏn Line connecting Seoul to Wŏnsan.

Kangwon Province (North Korea)

For the province in South Korea that bears the same name but different romanisation, see Gangwon Province, South Korea.Kangwon Province (Kangwŏndo; Korean pronunciation: [kaŋ.wʌn.do]) is a province of North Korea, with its capital at Wŏnsan. Before the division of Korea in 1945, Kangwŏn Province and its South Korean neighbour Gangwon Province (also spelled Kangwon Province sometimes) formed a single province that excluded Wŏnsan.

List of cities in North Korea

The important cities of North Korea have self-governing status equivalent to that of provinces. Pyongyang, the largest city and capital, is classified as a chikhalsi (capital city), while one city (see the list below) is classified as t'ŭkpyŏlsi (special city). Other cities are classified as si (city) and are under provincial jurisdiction, at the same level as counties (see Administrative divisions of North Korea).

Residences of North Korean leaders

There are more than a dozen leader’s residences in North Korea, according to Kim Jong-il’s former bodyguard Lee Young-kuk. Many of the residences were identified on satellite images in the North Korea Uncovered project. Ryongsong Residence is the central residence of Kim Jong-un. All residences are kept secret by the North Korean government and few photographs exist.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamhung

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamhung is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in North Korea.

Originally erected as the Apostolic Vicariate of Wonsan in 1920, the name has been changed twice, once to Kankoensis o Hameungensis in 1940, and finally, as the Apostolic Vicariate of Hamhung in 1950. Like the Diocese of Pyongyang, the Vicariate was elevated to a full diocese in 1962. The diocese is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Seoul.

Territorial Abbey of Tokwon

Tokwon Abbey was a Benedictine monastery of the Congregation of Missionary Benedictines of Saint Ottilien, located near the town of Wonsan in what is now North Korea. Founded as a monastic mission in Seoul, the community transferred to Tokwon in the 1920s to take charge of the newly created Apostolic Vicariate of Wonsan. The persecution of Christians in North Korea since 1949 made any church activity in the abbacy impossible. However the Territorial Abbacy of Tokwon is formally still kept as one of the few remaining territorial abbeys within the Catholic Church.

UN offensive into North Korea

The UN offensive into North Korea was a large-scale offensive in late 1950 by United Nations (UN) forces against North Korean forces.

On 27 September near Osan UN forces coming from Inchon linked up with UN forces that had broken out of the Pusan Perimeter and began a general counteroffensive. The North Korean Korean People's Army (KPA) had been shattered and its remnants were fleeing back towards North Korea. The UN Command then decided to pursue the KPA into North Korea, completing their destruction and unifying the country. On 30 September Republic of Korea Army (ROK) forces crossed the 38th Parallel, the de facto border between North and South Korea on the east coast of the Korean peninsula and this was followed by a general UN offensive into North Korea. Within one month UN forces were approaching the Yalu River prompting Chinese intervention in the war. Despite the initial Chinese attacks in late October-early November, the UN renewed their offensive on 24 November before it was abruptly halted by massive Chinese intervention in the Second Phase Offensive starting on 25 November.

USS Pirate (AM-275)

USS Pirate (AM-275) was an Admirable-class minesweeper built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. She was built to clear minefields in offshore waters, and served the Navy in the North Atlantic Ocean and then in the Pacific Ocean. She was returned to active service for the Korean War. During Operation Wonsan she struck a mine and sunk. For her dangerous work, she was awarded four battle stars for her Korean War effort.

Wonsan-class minelayer

Wonsan-class minelayer (Hangul 원산급 기뢰부설함, Hanja: 元山級機雷敷設艦) is a one-ship class of minelayers currently in service on the Republic of Korea Navy.

The Republic of Korea Navy planned to commission three Wonsan class mine layers. However, due to budget problems, only one was commissioned.

Wonsan Station

Wŏnsan Station (Korean: 원산역) is railway station located in Yangji-dong, Wŏnsan city, Kangwŏn province, North Korea. It is on the Kangwŏn Line of the Korean State Railway. Locomotive and freight car maintenance facilities are located here.

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[3]
Source #2: Wetter Spiegel Online (sunshine only)[4]
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Cities with special status
Provincial capitals
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