Mansudae Korea

Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province

Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province


Chongjin (청진) is one of the largest industrial centres in the DPRK. Located in North Hamgyong province on the east coast, it also acts as a major seaport for the country, considered the most important port after Nampo, making it the most economically significant North Korean port on the East Sea. The city serves as a hub for trade with Japan and Russia and it’s importance as an administrative centre is outlined by the presence of two consulates representing the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation.

Mass rally taking place in the centre of Chongjin


Known colloquially as the ‘City of Iron’, Chongjin is the most industrialised city in the country with numerous factories producing metals, fibres, rubber and also contains a shipyard and locomotive plant. The lack of arable land in this area of the country means little farming can be accomplished, so the economy is based almost entirely on heavy industry. The large port gives the city major significance, hence the presence of the Russian and Chinese consulates, built to provide consular assistance to crews of merchant vessels doing business in Chongjin and the surrounding area who would be less able to contact or receive support from the main embassies in Pyongyang. The government has placed significant importance onto the city, helping to develop an urban tram network and investing in infrastructure to ease the ability of the city to import goods. As seen with other major cities, the defining feature of this urban centre is it’s port. As with other cities covered in the ‘Insight’ series, it is another example of the greatest investment going to cities which are critical to importing vital goods for the country and exporting goods to make money. This is reflected in the infrastructure and architecture in these cities, which has undergone redevelopment since the 1990s and early 2000s.

Grand statues of the great leaders in Chongjin


The city is well connected with a dual military and civilian airport served by Air Koryo, likely to transport goods imported via Chongjin port directly to Pyongyang and other urban centres so they can be distributed effectively nationwide. The Korean State Railway line connecting Pyongyang to Rason passes through Chongjin, this is significant because this means goods can be transported between the capital city, Chongjin and the only Russian border crossing into the DPRK near the Rason special economic zone. The city is also served by a tram network, similar (yet less extensive) to the Pyongyang network.

Chongjin citizens during a rally


The city is the economic heart of the country, serving as the most industrialised urban centre and the second most significant port. The country has invested heavily into the city, likely to improve it’s import capability, especially under the harsh sanctions regime currently in place. Chongjin has a relatively high population with around 627,000 inhabitants, most of whom are probably factory workers. Given the infrastructure development that has taken place recently and the focus on economic development in the city, it is most likely that Chongjin is one of the most developed cities in the country alongside Pyongyang and Wonsan who have both received investment for different reasons. Chongjin is likely to develop even more if sanctions are lifted and higher volumes of goods can pass through the city and onwards into the country.

Chongjin is situated in the far north-east near the Russian border

Benjamin Weston

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