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Title: Hyesan  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ryanggang Province, Unhung County, Ryanggang, Taehongdan County, Paegam County
Collection: Cities in Ryanggang
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Municipal City
Korean transcription(s)
 • Chosŏn'gŭl 혜산시
 • Hancha 惠山市
 • McCune-Reischauer Hyesan-si
 • Revised Romanization Hyesan-si
Downtown Hyesan in December 2005
Downtown Hyesan in December 2005
Hyesan is located in North Korea
Country  North Korea
Province Ryanggang
 • Total 277 km2 (107 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 • Total 192,680
 • Density 700/km2 (1,800/sq mi)

Hyesan is a city in the northern part of Ryanggang province of North Korea. It is a hub of river transportation as well as a product distribution centre. It is also the administrative centre of Ryanggang Province. As of 2008, the population of the city is 192,680.


  • Geography 1
  • Economy 2
  • Transportation 3
  • Education 4
  • Notable people 5
  • See also 6
  • Further reading 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The city is located in the Paektu Mountains at the border with the People's Republic of China (Jilin province), from which it is separated by the Yalu (Amnok) River. Changbai is the closest Chinese city across the river.

It is located in the coldest area of Korea, which holds a record low temperature of -42 ℃ (-44 ℉) in 1915.

Climate data for Hyesan (1961-1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Daily mean °C (°F) −19.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 5.8
Source: World Meteorological Organization[1]


Hyesan has lumber processing mills, paper mills and textile mills. Since the North Korean economic crisis that intensified in the mid-1990s the city has suffered from economic stagnation and some factories in the city are closed. Reports and pictures taken from the Chinese side of the river show a "Ghost City": there is almost no movement in the streets and in the night the city is dark and doesn't have electricity. Residents of the city reputedly wash their clothes in the river because homes have no running water.

First explored in the 1960s, Hyesan Mine produces 10,000 tons of copper concentrates annually. This area has 80% of North Korea's available copper, and the North had estimated that it will be able to continue mining copper there for the next forty years. When Gapsan Dongjum Mine, explored during the Japanese colonial period, was finally depleted and closed in 1990, Hyesan Mine became the lifeline of the nation’s copper production. At that time, the mine flooded because the pumping device stopped operating due to the lack of electricity across the country. Although the workers at the mine did their best to pump the water, they could not stop the water flowing into the mine at a speed of 480㎥/hour. In 1996, during the North's 'Arduous March', electricity was not provided to the mine, leading to flooding in the mineshafts in January 1997. Hyesan Mine flooded again, as did other mines throughout the country, and lost all mining facilities. Since 1998, Kim Jong Il budgeted 8.2 million USD to dewater the mine, and the mine was recovered using electricity and equipment provided by China.


Hyesan is connected to other cities in North Korea by road and railway.


Schools in Hyesan include Hyesan High School and Hyesan Girl's School. Higher education institutions include the Hyesan Мedical University, the Hyesan University of Agriculture and Forestry, Kim Jong Suk College of Education, the Hyesan College of Light Engineering, and the Hyesan University of Industry.

The countryside near Hyesan has various attractions, including the Kwaegung Pavilion, Naegok Hot Spring and Mount Baekdu.

Notable people

  • Park Yeon-mi (b. 1993), activist and defector, escaped North Korea in 2007.
  • Lee Hyeon-seo (b. 1980), activist and defector, escaped North Korea in 1997.

See also

Further reading

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


  1. ^ "Hyesan 1961-1990 averages". Station, District and regional averages 1981-2010. World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 

External links

  • North Korea Uncovered, (North Korea Google Earth) see most of Hyesan's political and industrial infrastructure on Google Earth.
  • Maps and satellite images of Hyesan Airfield
  • City profile of Hyesan
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