Imjin River

Imjin (임진강)
Rimjin (림진강)
Bridge of Freedom crossing the Rimjin. Located in Munsan, Paju, South Korea.
Countries North Korea (PRK), South Korea (KOR)
Provinces Kangwon (PRK), North Hwanghae (PRK), Gyeonggi (KOR)
Source Turyu Mountain [lower-alpha 1]
 - location Poptong, Kangwon, North Korea
Mouth Han River
 - location Paju, Gyeonggi, South Korea
Length 273.50 km (170 mi) [1]
Basin 8,138.90 km2 (3,142 sq mi) [1]
Imjin River
Hangul or
Revised Romanization rimjingang or imjin-gang
McCune–Reischauer Rimjin'gang or imjin'gang

The Imjin River (Hangul: 임진강 in South Korea) or Rimjin River (Chosŏn'gŭl: 림진강 in North Korea) is the 7th largest river in Korea.[2] It flows from north to south, crossing the Demilitarized Zone and joining the Han River downstream of Seoul, near the Yellow Sea. The river is not the namesake of the Imjin Waeran Japanese invasions of Korea in the late 16th century.


The Rimjin River was the site of two major battles: The Battle of the Imjin River during the Seven-Year War in 1592, and the Battle of the Imjin River that took place during the Korean War.


Ferry across the Imjin River in 1889

The active channel of the Rimjin River utilizes only about 150 to 200 feet of the 1,200-foot (370 m) width of the dry riverbed that it runs through, which is bordered by almost vertical rock cliffs standing approximately 75 feet (23 m) above the mean low water level. It gives no indication in normal times of the tremendous power it develops when in flood. During the Korean rainy season of July and August, the Imjin becomes a raging torrent, largely confined by its steep rocky banks. Fed by its larger tributaries and many small mountain streams, it reaches flood heights of 48 feet (15 m) above mean water level and a velocity of 15 to 20 feet per second (6 m/s). The rapid runoff of approximately 95 percent of precipitation during heavy general rains has caused the Imjin, on occasion, to rise at a rate of more than six feet per hour.

During the severe Korean winter, icy winds sweep down the Imjin; the sub-zero temperatures cause thick ice to form on the river. Fluctuations in the level of the river, particularly tidal action in the lower reaches, break up this ice, and large amounts of floe ice pile up against any obstacle in the channel.

The Imjin has been nicknamed by many in South Korea as the "River of the Dead" due to large numbers of dead bodies that have, in the past, floated down it from the North. The most recent occurrence was during the major famine of the 1990s when millions of North Koreans are believed to have starved to death.

In the popular novel "MASH - a novel about three army doctors", the MASH 4077 unit is located close to a branch of the Imjin river.[3]

The Rimjin is the subject of a famous north Korean popular song, Rimjingang, named after the river. It was composed in 1957 with lyrics written by North Korean poet Pak Se-yong. It is a well-known forbidden song in North Korea, as it refers to the Rimjin River as a symbol of freedom flowing from north to south. This song depicts the sadness of a divided homeland and alludes to the infamous history of the river. The song later became popular in Japan when it was covered by The Folk Crusaders.[4][5]

See also


  1. Turyu Mountain (1,323m, Chosŏn'gŭl: 두류산; Hancha: 頭流山; MR: Turyu'san)


  1. 1 2 2013년 한국하천일람 [List of Rivers of South Korea, 2013] (PDF) (in Korean). Han River Flood Control Office, Republic of Korea. 31 December 2012. pp. 112–113. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  2. Seven Famous Spots, Yeoncheon County.
  3. Hooker, Richard. MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors (M*A*S*H) (First ed.). UK: Hatchett Books. p. 9. ISBN 1780228880.
  4. A song to Imjin River, 7 June 2012
  5. Imjin River: River where tears of the Koreans flow, 11 March 2014
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Imjin River.

Coordinates: 37°47′N 126°40′E / 37.783°N 126.667°E / 37.783; 126.667

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