History of North Korea
One of the earliest known Korean kingdoms was Gojoseon, said to have been founded in 2333 BC, though records of the kingdom date back to the 7th century BC. Gojoseon expanded across the peninsula, with frequent contact with the Chinese, later turning into conflict with the Han Dynasty, and leading to the collapse of the Gojoseon Kingdom. In its place, several smaller kingdoms arose, including Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye, and Samhan.
The Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla Kingdoms emerged as the dominant forces in the region, known as the Three Kingdoms of Korea. These kingdoms were united in 676 CE, controlled by Silla until 935 CE, when it was overtaken by the Goryeo Dynasty. Goryeo ruled the peninsula, but in the 13th century, it came under the control of the powerful Mongol Empire until its collapse. Joseon Dynasty ruled the kingdom afterwards.
The Joseon Dynasty lasted through many centuries, with some conflict with China and Japan. Beginning in the 17th century, the Joseon Dynasty began to depend on China, and was isolated from the rest of the world. Trade between Joseon and other nations came to a hault, though Joseon signed treaties with the US and Japan in the late 1800s.
In 1897, Joseon dynasty became the Korean Empire. Later on, Japan occupied Korea in the beginning of 1910. Under Japanese control, the people of Korea were pushed to adopt Japanese culture and language, and forced to fight for Japan in World War II. This oppression of Korea led to violent revolts, and by the end of WWII, Japan was forced to give up control of Korea, and the peninsula was then divided in half. The northern portion was controlled by the Soviet Union, while the United States took control of the south, until 1948 and 1949, respectively.
A provisional government was established in North Korea in 1946, and ruled by Kim Il-Sung. The northern territory and the southern territory were at odds, both claiming each others' land. This was a major reason that led both the nations to the Korean War in 1950. North Korea received support from China, while South Korea was supported by the United States. In 1953, an armistice was signed between the warring nations, and the demilitarized zone was declared as the border between the north and south. Despite the armistice, a formal peace treaty was never signed and agreed upon, and relations between the two countries remain hostile to this day. The North Korea rulers have remained in the same family line, with Kim Jong-Il taking control and upon his death, his son, Kim Jong-Un taking over as the leader, while South Korea has embraced modern democracy.
North Korea borders China to the north and northwest, Russia to the northeast, and South Korea to the south.
- Pyongyang (capital)
North Korea is situated in East Asia on the Korean Peninsula. Along the western coast of the country lies the Yellow Sea and Korea Bay, while the eastern coast is situated in the Sea of Japan (also called the East Sea of Korea). Along the northern border with Russia, flows the Amnok River, while other important rivers are the Daedong River and Duman River. The coastal region of Korea features over 3,500 islands.
The terrain of North Korea features mountains like the Rangrim Range, the Kangnam Range and the Taebaek Range. There are also volcanoes like Baekdu Mountain, the country's highest peak, which stands 9,003 feet(2,744 meters) above sea level.
Points of Interest
Although, most of the country remains unaccessable to the tourists, some regions are demilitarized and are open for tourism purposes. Sightseeing in North Korea includes museums and war memorials, official monuments to the Great Leader, and the Demilitarized Zone. Pyongyang's Juche Tower is a notable monument, that offers a spectacular view of the city.
Another city to visit is Kaesong, along the Demilitarized Zone, which features monuments such as the Nam Gate, a historic town center, and Sonjuk Bridge. Other sites that are open to visitors include Chilbosan and the Seven Treasures Mountain that features land formations that can be seen via train. There are also hiking opportunities in the mountains, like Myogyangsan and Paektusan.
All visitors must have state-sponsored guides with them at all times.
Transport into North Korea is limited and requires special tourist visas, which are best obtained via tour companies. The main airport in North Korea is Sunan International Airport outside of Pyongyang, with service to destinations in China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Russia. Rail service is available between Beijing and Pyongyang and also to Russia, though there are restrictions on who may enter the country. Some boats and buses are also available, though very limited.
Tourists are required to stay with their guides, who control transportation and travel arrangements, at all times. Tourists in Pyongyang can get around using the subway system, which is inexpensive and efficient, but has limited destinations. There are also some taxis that go around the town.
Interesting Facts about North Korea:
- Kim Il-Sung's date of birth, April 15th, 1912, is the date on which the calendar of North Korea is based.
- North Korea does have elections, but the ballots have only one name, that is of the leader.
- Most popular attraction in North Korea is Kim Jong-Il’s preserved body.
- Strict rules are enforced on hair styling in the country, and only government-sanctioned haircuts are allowed. More North Korea Facts...
Last Updated on: February 24, 2020