Theme Week North Korea – Kaesong

Wednesday, 24 March 2021 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  8 minutes

The Goryeo Museum © Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Goryeo Museum © Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/cc-by-sa-3.0

Kaesong is a special city in the southern part of North Korea (formerly in North Hwanghae Province), and the capital of Korea during the Taebong kingdom and subsequent Goryeo dynasty. The city is near the Kaesong Industrial Region close to the border with South Korea and contains the remains of the Manwoldae palace. Called Songdo while it was the ancient capital of Goryeo, the city prospered as a trade centre that produced Korean ginseng. Kaesong now functions as the DPRK’s light industry centre.

During the Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945, the city was known by the Japanese pronunciation of its name, “Kaijō”. Between 1945 and 1950, Kaesong was part of South Korea and under its control. The 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement left the city under North Korean control. Due to the city’s proximity to the border with South Korea, Kaesong has hosted cross-border economic exchanges between the two countries as well as the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Region. As of 2009, the city had a population of 192,578.

Kaesong is home to the World Heritage Site Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong. Koryo Songgyungwan University (Light Industry), Communist University and Art College are located in Kaesong. The Koryo Museum, housed in the city’s old Confucian academy, contains many priceless Goryeo arts and cultural relics (although many are copies, with the originals held in the vaults of the Korean Central History Museum in Pyongyang). As the former capital of Goryeo, the tombs of almost all of the Goryeo kings are located in the area, though most are not accessible; the heavily reconstructed Tomb of King Wanggon, belonging to the dynasty’s founder, Taejo of Goryeo, is located to the west of the city in Kaepung-gun. Other notable tombs include those of kings Hyejong of Goryeo (the Sollung Royal Tomb), Gyeongjong of Goryeo (Yongrung Royal Tomb), Seongjong of Goryeo (Kangrung Royal Tomb), Hyeonjong of Goryeo (Sollung Royal Tomb), Munjong of Goryeo (Kyongrung Royal Tomb), and Gongmin of Goryeo (Tomb of King Kongmin). Kaesong also contains North Korea’s only two royal tombs dating to the Joseon: the Hurung Royal Tomb, belonging to the dynasty’s second king, Jeongjong of Joseon, and the Cherung Royal Tomb, containing the remains of Queen Sinui, wife of the dynasty’s founder, Yi Songgye (Taejo of Joseon). The two final tombs, despite belonging to members of the Joseon royal family, were excluded from the World Heritage Site Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty because of their location in North Korea.

Koryo Songgyungwan University © 魯班/cc-by-sa-4.0 Nam Gate © flickr.com - David Stanley/cc-by-2.0 © Nicor/cc-by-sa-3.0 Pakyon Falls © Ffggss/cc-by-sa-4.0 © panoramio.com - Yoni Rubin/cc-by-3.0 Sungyang Academy © Photlas.com/cc-by-sa-3.0 The Goryeo Museum © Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/cc-by-sa-3.0 Fall Foliage © flickr.com - uritours.com/cc-by-sa-2.0 Kaesong Industrial Region © flickr.com - Chris/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - Joseph Ferris III/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - Uwe Brodrecht/cc-by-sa-2.0 © flickr.com - Uwe Brodrecht/cc-by-sa-2.0 © flickr.com - (stephan)/cc-by-sa-2.0 © flickr.com - jennybento/cc-by-sa-2.0 © flickr.com - Mauricio Moreno/cc-by-2.0 Kim Il Sung statue © flickr.com - calflier001/cc-by-sa-2.0
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The Goryeo Museum © Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/cc-by-sa-3.0
With its topography, climate and soil, Kaesong has advantageous natural conditions for agricultural productions. The water supply system is established with 18 reservoirs, including Songdo Reservoir, built for agricultural advances and about 150 pumping stations as well as hundreds of dammed pools. The cultivated land accounts for 27% of Kaesong’s area. Rice, maize, soybeans, wheat, and barley are the main crops. Among them, rice production accounts for 60% of the whole grain production, and Kaepung and Panmun are the two primary regions, producing more than 70% of the rice production. In addition, vegetable and fruit cultivation including peach, apple and persimmon, livestock farming, and sericulture are active. Peach is a local specialty of Kaesong, especially white peach, which accounts for more than 25% of the total fruit production. The counties of Kaepung-gun and Panmun-gun are also known for cultivating the quality Korean ginseng called Goryeo Insam. Kaesŏng is DPRK’s light industry centre. The urban district is equipped with a jewel processing factory, ginseng processing factory and an embroidery factory. Since the Goryeo period, Kaesong had been a center of handcrafts such as Goryeo ware and commerce while the textile industry has been the primary business along with the production of grocery goods, daily general goods, and ginseng products after the division into the two states. The food processing industry ranks next to the textile business, mainly producing jang (soybean-based condiments), oil, canned foods, alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and others. In addition, resin, timber, handicrafts, pottery, shoes, school supplies, musical instruments, and glass are produced. Kaesong has factories for producing agricultural machines and tractor repair. As of 2002, the city contained the headquarters of the Central Bank of North Korea, with branches also in Kapung and Panmun counties. The DPRK and ROK jointly operate an industrial complex in the Kaesong Industrial Region. The industrial park, built around 2005, employs over 53,400 North Koreans at over 120 South Korean textile and other labor-intensive factories. In early 2013, approximately 887 South Koreans worked in the complex, which produced an estimated $470 million of goods in 2012, and the complex employed a sixth of Kaesong’s working people. Amid tensions in 2013, the industrial park was temporarily closed. It was closed again in 2016.

Kaesong is a major destination for foreign visitors to North Korea. Many Goryeo-era sites are located in Kaesong, including the Kaesong Namdaemun gate, the Songgyungwan Confucian Academy, now the Koryo Museum, and the Sonjuk Bridge and Pyochung Pavilion. Less-known sites include Kwandok Pavilion, the ruined Goryeo-era Manwoldae Palace, Anhwa Temple, Sungyang Hall, Mokchong Hall, and the Kaesong Chomsongdae observatory. Located to the west of the city are the tombs of Kings Kongmin and Wanggon; twenty-four km north of Kaesong is Taehungsan Fortress, a Koguryo satellite fortress built to protect Pyongyang. This castle contains the Kwanum and Taehung Temples. The famous Pakyon Falls are located in the area, as well as a large, recently discovered Goryeo-era Buddha carved into the stone on Mount Chonma. Most tourists to Kaesong are put in the traditional Kaesong Folk Hotel, housed in 19 traditional hanok courtyard houses.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on north-korea-travel.com – Kaesong, Wikipedia Kaesong Industrial Region, Wikitravel Kaesong, Wikivoyage Kaesong and Wikipedia Kaesong. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.










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