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Pyongyang Directly Governed City
   Chosŏn'gŭl 평양 직할시
   Hancha 平壤 直轄市
   McCune–Reischauer P'yŏngyang Chikhalsi
   Revised Romanization Pyeongyang Jikhalsi
Panoramic view from Juche Tower.jpg
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Tomb of King Tongmyong, Pyongyang, North Korea-1.jpg
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Clockwise from top: Pyongyang skyline and the Taedong River; Juche Tower; Arch of Reunification; Chollima Statue; Puhŭng Station in the Pyongyang Metro; Tomb of King Tongmyeong and Arch of Triumph
(류경/柳京)  (Korean)
"Capital of Willows"
Location of Pyongyang in North Korea
North Korea physical map.svg
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Coordinates: 39°1′10″N125°44′17″E / 39.01944°N 125.73806°E / 39.01944; 125.73806 Coordinates: 39°1′10″N125°44′17″E / 39.01944°N 125.73806°E / 39.01944; 125.73806
CountryFlag of North Korea.svg  North Korea
  Chairman of Pyongyang People's Committee Cha Hui-rim [2]
  Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea Pyongyang City Committee Kim Yong-hwan [3]
  Total3,194 km2 (1,233 sq mi)
 (2019 [5] )
  Density960/km2 (2,500/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+09:00 (Pyongyang Time)

Pyongyang ( US: /ˌpjɒŋˈjæŋ/ , UK: /ˌpjʌŋˈjɑːŋ/ , [6] Korean:  [pʲʰʌ̹ŋ.ja̠ŋ] ) is the capital and largest city of North Korea, where it is known as the "Capital of the Revolution". [7] Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River about 109 km (68 mi) upstream from its mouth on the Yellow Sea. According to the 2008 population census, it has a population of 3,255,288. [8] Pyongyang is a directly administered city (직할시;直轄市;chikhalsi) with equal status to North Korean provinces.


Pyongyang is one of the oldest cities in Korea. [9] It was the capital of two ancient Korean kingdoms, Gojoseon and Goguryeo, and served as the secondary capital of Goryeo. Much of the city was destroyed during the First Sino-Japanese War, but it was revived under Japanese rule and became an industrial center. Following the establishment of North Korea in 1948, Pyongyang became its de facto capital. The city was again devastated during the Korean War, but was quickly rebuilt after the war with Soviet assistance.

Pyongyang is the political, industrial and transport center of North Korea. It is home to North Korea's major government institutions, as well as the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.


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. [60] However, Kangnam-gun was returned to Pyongyang in 2011. [61]

Banghyun Dong, a missile base, was administrated by Kusong, North Pyongan Province. It had been transferred to the administration of P'yŏngyang on February 10, 2018. [62]


Panorama of Pyongyang, as seen from the Juche Tower in April 2012
Ryugyong Hotel and part of the Monument to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and Ryugyong Hotel (11342673725).jpg
Ryugyong Hotel and part of the Monument to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War
Apartment buildings with green areas Pyongyang-Highrise-Buildings-2014.jpg
Apartment buildings with green areas

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. [63] The result was a city with wide, tree-lined boulevards and public buildings with terraced landscaping, mosaics and decorated ceilings. [64] 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. [64]

The streets are laid out in a north–south, east–west grid, giving the city an orderly appearance. [64] 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. [65] 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. [66]

Structures in Pyongyang are divided into three major architectural categories: monuments, buildings with traditional Korean motifs and high-rises. [67] 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 (560 ft) 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. [67] The most prominent building on Pyongyang's skyline is Ryugyong Hotel, [67] the seventh highest building in the world terms of floor count, the tallest unoccupied building in the world, [68] and one of the tallest hotels in the world. It has yet to open. [69] [70]

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. [71] Construction of the complex began after late leader Kim Jong-il described Changjon Street as "pitiful". [72] Other housing complexes are being upgraded as well, but most are still poorly insulated, and lacking elevators and central heating. [73] 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. [74] In 2018, the city was described as unrecognizable compared to five years before. [75]


The Rungrado 1st of May Stadium by the Taedong River is the second-largest mass-sports/athletic stadium in the world by capacity. Views from Yanggakdo International Hotel 10.JPG
The Rungrado 1st of May Stadium by the Taedong River is the second-largest mass-sports/athletic stadium in the world by capacity.

Notable landmarks in the city include:

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 raengmyon (Korean: pyeongyangraengmyeon
; Hanja: Ping Rang Leng Mian 
), cold buckwheat noodle soup originating in Pyongyang Korean cuisine-Naengmyeon-02.jpg
Pyongyang raengmyŏn (Korean : 평양랭면; Hanja : 平壤冷麵), cold buckwheat noodle soup originating in Pyongyang

Pyongyang served as the provincial capital of South Pyongan Province until 1946, [76] 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. [77]

Another representative Pyongyang dish, Taedonggang sungeoguk , translates as "flathead grey mullet soup from the Taedong River". The soup features flathead grey mullet (abundant in the Taedong River) along with black peppercorns and salt. [78] 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). [77]

Social life

In 2018, there were many high quality restaurants in Pyongyang with Korean and international food, and imported alcoholic beverages. [75] Famous restaurants include Okryu-gwan and Ch'ongryugwan. [79] Some street foods exist in Pyongyang, where vendors operate food stalls. [80] Foreign foods like hamburgers, fries, pizza, and coffee are easily found. [75] There is an active nightlife with late-night restaurants and karaoke. [75]

The city has water parks, amusement parks, skating rinks, health clubs, a shooting range, and a dolphinarium. [74]


Pyongyang has a number of sports clubs, including the April 25 Sports Club and the Pyongyang City Sports Club. [81]


Central Pyongyang with the newly built Changjon Apartment Complex. The Okryu Bridge and Ryugyong Hotel are in the background Laika ac Pyongyang (7975203722).jpg
Central Pyongyang with the newly built Changjon Apartment Complex. The Okryu Bridge and Ryugyong Hotel are in the background

Pyongyang is North Korea's industrial center. [9] 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, sweetcorn and soybeans. Pyongyang aims to achieve self-sufficiency in meat production. High-density facilities raise pigs, chicken and other livestock. [9]

Until the late 2010s Pyongyang still experienced frequent shortages of electricity. [82] 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. [82] 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. [83]


Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 Laika ac Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 (11975506264).jpg
Pyongyang Department Store No. 1

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. [84]

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. [85]


Tatra KT8D5K tram Tatra tram in Pyongyang.jpg
Tatra KT8D5K tram

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. [9] 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. [86]

Tupolev Tu-204 of Air Koryo at Sunan International Airport AIR KORYO P632 TUPOLEV TU204-100 AT PYONGYANG SUNAN AIRPORT DPR KOREA OCT 2012 (8192629125).jpg
Tupolev Tu-204 of Air Koryo at Sunan International Airport

The Metro, tram and trolleybus systems are used mainly by commuters as a primary means of urban transportation. [9] Cycle lanes were introduced on main thoroughfares in July 2015. [87] 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. [88] Some roads are also reported to be in poor condition. [89] However, by 2018, Pyongyang had begun to experience traffic jams. [75]

State-owned Air Koryo has scheduled international flights from Pyongyang Sunan International Airport to Beijing (PEK), Shenyang (SHE), Vladivostok (VVO), Shanghai (PVG) and Dandong. [90] 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, [91] although Air China's flights are often canceled due to lack of passengers. [92]

Education and science

Kim Il-sung University, North Korea's oldest university, was established in 1946. [9] It has 21 faculties, 4 research institutes, and 10 other university units. [93] [94] [95] 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; [96] an atomic energy institute and the largest law firm in the country (Ryongnamsan Law Office). [97] Kim Il-sung University also has its own publishing house, sports club (Ryongnamsan Sports Club), [98] revolutionary museum, nature museum, libraries, a gym, indoor swimming pool and educator apartment houses. Its four main buildings were completed in 1965 (Building 1), 1972 (Building 2), and 2017 (Buildings 3 and 4). [99] [100] [101]

Kim Il-Sung University in session Kim Il-sung University computer room.jpg
Kim Il-Sung University in session

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. [102] [103] 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. [104]

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. [105]

Health care

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, [106] 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 (1 mi) northwest of Kim Il-sung Square, [107] Pyongyang Medical School Hospital, Namsan Treatment Center which is adjacent [108] Pyongyang's Maternity Hospital, Taesongsan General Hospital, [109] Kim Man-yoo Hospital, Staff Treatment Center and Okryu Children's Hospital. A new hospital named Pyongyang General Hospital began construction in Pyongyang in 2020. [110]

Twin towns

Pyongyang is twinned with: [111]

See also


  1. These include: Heijō-fu, [13] Heizyō, [14] Heizyō Hu, [15] Hpyeng-yang, [16] P-hjöng-jang, [17] Phyeng-yang, [18] Phyong-yang, [19] Pienyang, [20] Pingyang, [21] Pyengyang, [22] and Pieng-tang. [23]
  2. Nanglang-state is different from Lelang Commandery.

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Pyongchon-guyok Guyŏk of Pyongyang in Pyŏngyang-Chikhalsi, North Korea

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Moranbong-guyok Guyŏk of Pyongyang in Pyŏngyang-Chikhalsi, North Korea

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Kim Jong-un bibliography

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Further reading

Pyongyang at night