Municipal City
Korean transcription(s)
  McCune-Reischauer Hyesan-si
  Revised Romanization Hyesan-si

Downtown Hyesan in December 2005
Coordinates: 41°24′N 128°11′E / 41.400°N 128.183°E / 41.400; 128.183Coordinates: 41°24′N 128°11′E / 41.400°N 128.183°E / 41.400; 128.183
Country  North Korea
Province Ryanggang
Administrative divisions 25 tong, 4 ri
  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.


Around 1940s, this city corresponded nearby Baekdu Mountains. However, due to the several changes, the area of this city was reduced, and now it only corresponds nearby Yalu River.

Due to the reunification matter with South Korea, this city is claimed by South Korea, with the area of 1940s, not the one edited by North Korea. Therefore, this city in South Korea still corresponds nearby Baekdu Mountains.

With this problem, South Korea has a conflict with PRC because of Baekdu Mountains. The mountain is actually divided in 2, south parts are ruled by DPRK while north parts are ruled by PRC. However, South Korea still claims the northern parts. It is not officially claimed, but from maps printed by South Korea, it is de facto claimed. In addition, ROC claims the entire mountain.


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 (Amrok) River. Changbai is the closest Chinese city across the river.

Administrative Divisions

Hyesan City is divided into 25 tong (neighbourhoods) and 4 ri (villages):

  • Ch'un-dong (춘동)
  • Hyegang-dong (혜강동)
  • Hyehŭng-dong (혜흥동)
  • Hyehwa-dong (혜화동)
  • Hyejang-dong (혜장동)
  • Hyemyŏng-dong (혜명동)
  • Hyesan-dong (혜산동)
  • Hyesin-dong (혜신동)
  • Hyet'an-dong (혜탄동)
  • Kangan-dong (강안동)
  • Kanggu-dong (강구동)
  • Kŏmsan-dong (검산동)
  • Masan 1-dong (마산1동)
  • Masan 2-dong (마산2동)
  • Ryŏnbong 1-dong (련봉1동)
  • Ryŏnbong 2-dong (련봉2동)
  • Ryŏndu-dong (련두동)
  • Sinhŭng-dong (신흥동)
  • Songbong 1-dong (송봉1동)
  • Songbong 2-dong (송봉2동)
  • Sŏnghu-dong (성후동)
  • T'apsŏng-dong (탑성동)
  • Wiyŏn-dong (위연동)
  • Yŏnhŭng-dong (영흥동)
  • Yŏnp'ung-dong (연풍동)
  • Changal-li (장안리)
  • Rojung-ri (로중리)
  • Sinjang-ri (신장리)
  • Unch'ong-ri (운총리)


Hyesan has an elevation-influenced humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dwb). It is located in the coldest area of Korea, which holds a record low temperature of -42 ℃ (-44 ℉) in 1915.

Climate data for Hyesan (1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Daily mean °C (°F) −16.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 14.6
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency


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 Kapsan Tongjum 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 by the Paektusan Ch'ŏngnyŏn and Pukpu lines of the Korean State Railway.


Schools in Hyesan include Hyesan High School and Hyesan Girls' School. Higher education institutions include the Hyesan Мedical University, the Hyesan University of Agriculture and Forestry, Kim Jŏng-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, Naegŏk Hot Spring and Mount Paektu.

Notable people

See also


    Further reading

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