Kaesong or Kaisong, Jap. Kaijo, city (1993 pop. 334,433), S North Korea. A long-time commercial center, it is important for its exports of ginseng, a valuable medicinal root. There is also active trade in rice, barley, and wheat. Textiles are made in the city, and there is some heavy industry. A special economic zone has been established where South Korean firms manufacture products for export; a highway connects the zone with South Korea.

In the 10th cent. Wang Kon, founder of the Koryo dynasty, made Kaesong his capital; the city, then called Songdo, remained Korea's capital until 1392, when the Choson (or Yi) dynasty moved the capital to Seoul. Intersected by the 38th parallel, Kaesong served as the main contact point between North and South Korea from 1945 to 1951 and passed from United Nations to North Korean forces several times during the Korean War. The armistice talks, first held at Kaesong, were later transferred to Panmunjom (Panmunjeom). Historic landmarks include the tombs of several Korean kings, the old city walls, and the remains of a royal palace from the Koryo period.

Kaesŏng (Gaeseong) is a city in North Hwanghae Province, southern North Korea (DPRK), a former Directly Governed City, and the capital of Korea during the Koryo Dynasty. The city is near Kaesŏng Industrial Region and it contains the remains of the Manwoldae palace.


When Yi Songgye overthrew the Koryo Dynasty in 1392 and established the Choson Dynasty, he moved the Korean capital from Kaesŏng to Hanyang (modern-day Seoul). Kaesŏng remained a part of Kyonggi Province until the Korean War. In 1951, the city (which had been part of South Korea) came under North Korean control, and the part of Kyonggi Province that came to be occupied was organized into "Kaesŏng Region" (Kaesŏng Chigu; 개성 지구; 開城 地區). In 1955, Kaesŏng became a "Directly Governed City" (Kaesŏng Chikhalsi; 개성 직할시; 開城 直轄市). In 2002, Kaesŏng Industrial Region was formed from part of Kaesŏng. In 2003, the remaining part of Kaesŏng (excluding the Industrial Region) became part of North Hwanghae Province.

The city is close to the Demilitarized Zone that divides North and South Korea. When Korea was partitioned at the 38th parallel after World War Two, Kaesong was on the southern side of the line (within the Republic of Korea). Thus Kaesong is (depending on perspective) either the only occupied South Korean City at the end of the 'Korean Police Action', or the only city liberated by the North Korean People's Army in the 'Great Fatherland Liberation War'.

Former administrative divisions

Before 2002, Kaesŏng Directly Governed City was divided into one city (Kaesŏng itself) and three counties.

  • Kaesŏng-si (개성시, 開城市)
  • Changp'ung-gun (장풍군; 長豊郡)
  • Kaep'ung-gun (개풍군; 開豊郡)
  • P'anmun-gun (판문군; 板門郡)

In 2003, P'anmun-gun and part of Kaesŏng-si were separated from Kaesŏng Directly Governed City and merged to form Kaesŏng Industrial Region. The remaining part of Kaesŏng joined North Hwanghae in 2002.

It was formally named Songdo while it was the ancient capital of Koryo. It prospered as a trade center that produced Korean ginseng, which is famous internationally. It is now the DPRK's light industry centre.


Located in central Korea, along with Kyonggi Province, North Hwanghae Province, South Hwanghae Province and Kangwon Province. Kanghwa Island of Inchon Municipality lies just south, beyond a narrow channel. It covers an area of 1,309 km², the urban district is surrounded by Mountain Songak (489m) and Mountain Pongmyong.


Kaesŏng is DPRK’s light industry centre. The urban district is equipped with a jewel processing factory, ginseng processing factory and an embroidery factory.


Kaesŏng is connected to Pyongyang and other cities by rail, highways and a dual purpose military and civilian air station.


Koryo Songgyungwan University (Light Industry), Communist University and Art College are located in Kaesŏng. Kaesong history museum has a lot of Koryo arts and cultural relics including Chomsongdae, Manwol Pavilion, Kaesong Nam Gate, Anhwa Temple, the Tomb of King Wanggon and the Tomb of King Kongmin. The suburbs have vestiges of the palaces of the previous royal dynasties. Twenty-four km north of Kaesŏng is the Pagyon Falls and Taehung Castle.


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