What You Need To Know
Pyongyang is the capital and largest city of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (commonly known as North Korea). Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River about 110 kilometres (68 mi) upstream from its mouth on the West Korea Sea. The city was split from the South Pyongan province in 1946. It is administered as a directly governed city on the same level as provincial governments, as opposed to a special city as Seoul is in South Korea.
Area: 3,194 km²
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. Heavy manufactures include cement, industrial ceramics, munitions and weapons, but mechanical engineering remains the core industry. Light industries in Pyongyang and its vicinity include textiles, footwear and food, among others. Special emphasis is put on the production and supply of fresh produce and subsidiary crops in farms on the city’s outskirts. Other crops include rice, corn and soybeans. Pyongyang aims to achieve self-sufficiency in meat production. High-density facilities raise pigs, chicken and other livestock. The city still experiences a shortage 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 (MW), while the 10 dams to be built under second phase are expected to generate about 120 MW. In addition, the city has several existing or planned thermal power stations. These include Pyongyang TPS with a capacity of 500 MW, East Pyongyang TPS with a capacity of 50 MW, and Kangdong TPS which is under construction.
North Korea had a life expectancy of 69.8 years in 2013. While North Korea is classified as a low-income country, the structure of North Korea’s causes of death (2013) is unlike that of other low-income countries. Instead, it is closer to the worldwide averages, with non-communicable diseases – such as cardiovascular disease – accounting for two-thirds of the total deaths. A 2013 study reported that communicable diseases and malnutrition are responsible for 64% of the total deaths in North Korea. Those of high-income countries and South Korea, but half of the average 57% of all deaths in other low-income countries. The same 2013 study stated that the largest obstacle for understanding the accurate health status of North Korea is the lack of the validity and reliability of its health data.
Pyongyang is also the main transport hub of the country: it has a dense 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, Chinese border city of Dandong and Moscow are also available. A journey to Beijing takes about 25 hours and 25 minutes (K27 from Beijing/K28 from Pyongyang, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays); a journey to Dandong takes about 6 hours (daily); a journey to Moscow takes six days. The city also connects to the Eurasian Land Bridge via the Trans-Siberian Railway. A high-speed rail link to Wonsan is planned. 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 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 a poor condition.
Pyongyang is in the west-central part of North Korea; the city lies on a flat plain about 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of the Korea Bay, an arm of the Yellow Sea. The Taedong River flows southwestward through the city toward the Korea Bay. The Pyongyang plain, where the city is situated, is one of the two large plains on the Western coast of the Korean peninsula, the other being the Chaeryong plain. Both have an area of approximately 500 square kilometers. Pyongyang has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dwa). Cold, dry winds can blow from Siberia in winter, making conditions very cold; the low temperature is usually below freezing between November and early March, although the average daytime high is at least a few degrees above freezing in every month except January. The winter is generally much drier than summer, with snow falling for 37 days on average. The transition from the cold, dry winter to the warm, wet summer occurs rather quickly between April and early May, and there is a similar abrupt return to winter conditions in late October and November. Summers are generally hot and humid, with the East Asian monsoon taking place from June until August; these are also the hottest months, with average temperatures of 21 to 25 °C (70 to 77 °F), and daytime highs often above 30 °C (86 °F).