Pyongyang is the capital and largest city of North Korea. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River about 109 kilometers upstream from its mouth on the Yellow Sea. According to the 2008 population census, it has a population of 3,255,288. Pyongyang is considered one of the oldest cities in Korea. It was the capital of two ancient Korean kingdoms, including 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. 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.
An ideological statement forged in concrete, bronze and marble, Pyongyang is the ultimate totalitarian metropolis, built almost entirely from scratch following its destruction in the Korean War.
Data and Facts
- Has a total land area of Pyongyang is 400 square miles
- Has a population density of around 7,158 residents per square mile
- Humid climate with high range (+37.2°C to -30.2°C) & average annual temperature of 10.7°C
- Located 125 ft above sea level
- Evidence of prehistoric occupation in a village called Kŭmtan-ni was found dating back to Jeulmun and Mumun pottery eras
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 at 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. P'yŏngyang is divided into 18 wards and 2 counties .
The country of 25 million people has been ruled by the Kim dynasty for more than 70 years. North Korea's economy has struggled because of its isolationist policies, yet the exact extremes of the country's hardships are unknown, as it doesn't release detailed data. We do know it's a nation where the average worker takes home less than $2,000 a year, much of the population is undernourished, and citizens can pay upwards of $12,000 to defect.
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. 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 , while the 10 dams to be built under the second phase are expected to generate about 120 MW. In addition, the city has several existing or planned thermal power stations. On January 5, North Korean state media showed what looked like hundreds of thousands of citizens rallying in central Pyongyang to voice support for the tasks set forth by the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Workers Party, held at year’s end. And on January 7, footage showed Kim Jong Un’s first public appearance of 2020, offering guidance at a fertilizer factory.
Critically, the markets have introduced key disciplines – such as supply and demand, market pricing, marketing – to a formerly mismanaged, state-run economy. They have also sparked e-commerce, with – according to Sejong Institute data – some 5.8 million North Koreans surfing the national intranet on their smartphones in 2019.
In the communist nation, there's the state-run economy and an underground one. Because of this, there are two prices for everything, Bill Brown, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, told Marketplace last year.
Recent signs of North Korea opening itself up mean more investment opportunities in one of the world’s most isolated countries. As famous American businessman Jim Rogers once said: «Investors can make a fortune in North Korea.» If he is right, it might be the ideal time to make moves. According to U.S.-based investment consultants, several American companies have already taken the lead.
According to one report, there were more than 215 joint ventures between China and North Korea and about 30 joint firms between Russia and the North up and running as of the end of September last year.North Korea is not an exception in this regard. North Korea’s Kim Il Sung University recently published a series of guidelines for foreign companies that are interested in doing business in North Korea. It gives a clearer idea of the requirements.
According to the university’s guidelines, there are three options for foreign companies looking to enter North Korea. First, there are two types of joint ventures in North Korea. One is a set-up where a foreign firm and the North Korean government equally invest and have business control over a joint venture company.
In another type of joint venture, a foreign company and the North Korean government jointly invest, but the latter has control over the business. Although the North Korean government controls the business, the partner firm can participate in a joint management committee. In this case, profits or losses are shared by both parties, according to Kim Il Sung University.
The third business option is called a foreign company. This option allows foreign companies to own 100 percent of their business entity in North Korea. With this option, the foreign firm has full control of the business and the North Korean government has «no rights» to influence the management.
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. 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 , Shenyang , Vladivostok , Shanghai and Dandong. The only domestic destinations are Hamhung, Wonsan, Chongjin, Hyesan and Samjiyon.
North Korea isn't totally cut off from the internet, as evidenced by the numerous hacks thought to be perpetrated by state hackers operating inside the country. But it is tightly controlled at the network level and historically hasn't really been open to the general population. That is changing, with more citizens buying smartphones.
North Korea isn't totally cut off from everyday innovations like mobile data or smartphones. The phones look a lot like the cheap Android phones you could buy in any shop — but these come preloaded with spyware and software tailored by the state.
North Korea does have a telecommunications system, and the current version is a joint venture with an Egyptian firm called Orascom. The network is split into two halves, according to Williams' report, meaning both North Korean tourists and foreign citizens can make calls and send texts inside the country — but neither can communicate with the other.
One of the latest tech ventures is a new wi-fi service called Mirae, which enables mobile devices to access a state-sanctioned intranet network in the capital, Pyongyang. Another exciting device is «intelligent home system» which recognises human voice to automatically operate electronic instruments such as fans, air conditioners, televisions and lights. This system was developed by the Kim Il-sung University, which seems to be at the forefront of the country's high-tech endeavours. DPRK Today, a propaganda website, reported on 21 November that researchers from the university had developed a number of advanced artificial intelligence systems, including a Korean-language voice recognition programme.
As part of efforts to nurture a scientific community, North Korea has offered incentives to scientists and engineers in the form of lavish apartments and other privileges. The broader focus on science and technology has begun to appear in North Korean state media and propaganda outlets extensively.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
The percentage of undernourished North Koreans increased to 43.4% in 2018 from 37.5% in 2000, according to the Global Hunger Index. The percentage of undernourished children under the age of 5 has decreased in that time, however. According to the index, North Korea is not the most undernourished nation in the world - it ranks 109th out of 199. But the situation has been dire since a famine in the 1990s, during which up to 2 million people died.
Kim Il-sung University also has its own publishing house, sports club , revolutionary museum, nature museum, libraries, a gym, indoor swimming pool and educator apartment houses. Its two main buildings were completed in 1965 and 1972 . 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. 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 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.