Map of Donggyong's built-up area with location names, expressways, and train tracks marked.
Map of Donggyong's built-up area with location names, expressways, and train tracks marked.
ProvinceDonggyŏng Directly Controlled City
Capital of Donghae283 CE
Capital of Sinyi1871
Capital Restored1964
 • BodyDonggyŏng Municipal Government
 • City AdministratorRo Se-yun
 • Density9,269/km2 (24,010/sq mi)
 • Metro
20,500,000 (est.)
Time zoneSST

Donggyŏng (Gumun: 東京, Sinmun: 동경, literally "Eastern Capital") is the capital city of the Socialist Republic of Menghe. It is governed as its own province-level entity, the Donggyŏng Directly Controlled City (동경직할시 / 東京直轄市, Donggyŏng Jikhalsi), which borders Chŏnghae Province to the north and Donghae Province to the south, with the Taeryong River emptying into the Kimhae Sea at its center. It is subdivided into 19 Districts and 5 Counties, the latter of which encompass agricultural and suburban areas. With 17.3 million inhabitants in the Directly Controlled City limits as of 2015, and an estimated 20.5 million in the wider metropolitan area, it is the second-largest city in the country after Sunju.

Donggyŏng’s history stretches back more than two and a half thousand years, when it was founded as Jangpyŏng, the capital of the State of Donghae. It was razed to the ground in the 6th Century CE, but was later rebuilt as the city of Kimhaesŏng, which grew into an important center of trade and an important provincial capital. It became a national capital again in 1871, under the Sinyi faction of the Three States Period, and was chosen as the capital of the reunified Republic of Menghe in 1901. As a result of this past, it is today rich in history but also a center of nationalism and political influence. The entire Meghean Central Government, including Donggwangsan palace, the Hall of the National Assembly, and the National High Court, is located within the walls of the Old City, and many other administrative buildings are scattered throughout the urban area. The Old City itself is surrounded by the longest intact city wall in the country, and contains many scenic parks, historical sites, and buildings in a traditional style. These and other attractions drew an estimated 3.6 million foreign and 24 million domestic tourists in 2016.

During the Menghean economic miracle, the city experienced rapid growth, more than doubling in population between 1990 and 2015. Today it is a major economic center, the second-wealthiest in the country after Sunju. Many of Menghe’s largest State-Owned Enterprises and Jachi-Hoesa have their headquarters on Bingang Island, and the city hosts more than half a dozen designated "Industry and Innovation Zones" with clusters of emerging high-tech industries. In 2015, the city had a GDP (PPP) per capita of $31,804, making it comparable to some developed countries. Donggyŏng North Container Port is the country’s busiest container terminal, and Kimhae International Airport is the country’s busiest airport, handling 58,698,000 passengers and 1,320,291 tonnes of cargo in 2016. The city is also home to a major stop on Menghe’s high-speed railway network, and is a regional hub for intercity and commuter trains. With 17 lines, 308 stations, and a system length of 466.5 kilometers as of February 2017, the Donggyŏng Metro is one of the largest mass transportation systems in Septentrion.

View from the MCTV broadcasting tower in Sinsuk District.


What is today Donggyŏng has gone through a number of name changes throughout history, in part due to its changing status as a regional or provincial capital. Originally it was known as Jangpyŏng (長平 in Gumun script), meaning "Long Peace" or "Eternal Harmony." After being razed to the ground in the Second Warring States period, in 593 it was re-established as Kimhaesŏng, or "Kimhae Sea Fortress." This was later shortened further to "Kimsŏng," or "Gold Fortress."

It acquired its present name in 1871, when the Sinyi leadership relocated there. Donggyŏng (東京 / 동경) in Menghean means "Eastern Capital," in reference to Junggyŏng (Gumun: 中京, Sinmun: 중경), or "Central Capital," the previous capital city. By extension, Gyŏngnam (京南 / 경남) means “South of the Capital,” renamed in 1895 from its previous name of Rinsan (林山 / 린산).


Greater Donggyŏng’s metropolitan area lies at the mouth of the Taeryong river, as it empties into the Kimhae Sea. The area northwest of the river contains Nampo and Donggyŏng proper, while the area on the south bank is the city of Gyŏngnam. Both sides of the river valley are framed by heavily forested low mountains, with elevations of 200 to 400 meters, rising about five kilometers inland on the Gyŏngnam side and 7 to 12 kilometers inland on the Donggyŏng side. Directly to the north and southwest, the mountains descend into relatively level plains, which are divided between towns, suburbs, and smallholder agriculture.

Running counterclockwise from the coast of the Kimhae Sea, there are four rivers in the Donggyŏng Metropolitan Area: the Anyang, Hantan, Taeryong, and Damachŏn. The Taeryong is the largest of the four, though it is small by national standards, and the Damachŏn is the smallest. The Hantan and Anyang are both dammed in valleys to form reservoirs, which supply the city’s water needs; because of the area’s stable rainfall patterns, these reservoirs are fairly small and do not have a major water storage role.


Snow and fog at a lake in the Wŏnmyŏnwŏn Garden.

Donggyŏng’s climate is temperate with a Köppen classification of Dfb, indicating mild summers and snowy winters. Prevailing winds come from the southwest in the summer months and from the northeast in the winter months, with both systems fed humidity by bodies of water (Lake Jijunghae and the Chŏnghae Sea, respectively). Because of this, Donggyŏng lacks a distinct monsoon climate, and instead receives precipitation during both Summer and Winter. Fall and spring are somewhat drier, with low, variable winds and occasional light rainfall.

Temperatures in the wider Donggyŏng area are moderated by the presence of the Kimhae Sea and its coastal breezes; compared with inland areas of Chŏnghae Province, winters and summers on Donggyŏng’s north plain are generally milder. The area sees a fairly high volume of snowfall in the winter months, but temperatures are not severe, with an average January low of -7.4 degrees Celsius.

The Donggyŏng urban area itself does suffer from a strong heat island effect, the result of its extensive use of concrete, glass, and asphalt during expansive growth in the 1990s and 2000s. The increased number of tall buildings has also had the effect of blocking Donggyŏng’s coastal breezes, which one cooled the area in summertime. The warming effect is stronger in built-up areas like Bingang and Sinsuk but fairly mild in the Old City, and it is especially noticeable at night.


Archaeological excavations around Donggyŏng Special Metropolitan Area suggest that the first permanent settlements in the area came into existence around 4,000 years ago, mostly as trading and fishing communities along the coast. In the 6th century BCE, historical records mention a significant city named Jangpyŏng (長平) north of the mouth of the Taeryong river, though they make no mention of when it was founded. Archaeological digs have traced its location to the site where the Anyang river meets the Taeryong, opposite the southern edge of the current Old City Wall. According to these records, Jangpyŏng served as the capital of the State of Kim during the First Warring States Period, until it fell to the State of Yang in 307 BCE. It remained an important port for Yang rulers.

In the 1st century CE, Jangpyŏng was captured by the rising Meng dynasty, which integrated it into the country's early trade network. With the collapse of the Meng Dynasty, it became the capital of Donghae, one of the Five States into which Menghe was divided. A Tae army under the command of Chŏn Yŏm besieged the city in 435 CE and razed it to the ground after its capture, setting up a new fortress north of the river to maintain security over the bay. This fortress settlement grew into Kimhaesŏng, or "Kimhae Sea fortress," and is regarded as the second founding of the city. In time, this would be shortened to Kimsŏng or "Gold Castle."

Kimhaesŏng fell to the Jin Dynasty in 729, but was spared its fate under the State of Tae. During the Sŭnghwa and Yi dynasties it experienced a surge in prosperity, growing back into a major trade port. Some historians estimate that by 1400 it had surpassed a population of one million people, making it one of the largest cities in the world at the time, though others suggest a figure of 600,000 to 700,000 as more likely. Whatever the case, it suffered heavily in the Menghean Black Plague of the early 16th century and never grew back to its old size during the Myŏn dynasty.

A railway passing through the Eastern Wall in 1921. It has since been replaced with a highway.

In 1871, twenty-four years after the Myŏn dynasty’s fall, the government of the Sinyi Faction relocated from Junggyŏng to Kimsŏng, a move which was intended to improve government access to Western trade and technology. With this move, the city was renamed Donggyŏng, or "Eastern Capital," in implicit contrast with the old imperial court at Junggyŏng ("Central Capital"). This event is known as the city’s “third founding” because it established Donggyŏng with its present name as the capital. In 1877 the city completed its first railway, which ran from the expanding port facilities through Donggyŏng Station before reaching away to Dongrŭng in the southwest.

Donggyŏng was the capital of Sinyi through the rest of the Three States period, and became the national capital of the Menghe Federative Republic in 1899. Allied forces subjected the city to heavy bombing attacks during the final years of the Great Conquest War, burning down much of the Old City and nearly all buildings in the Bingang district. The Allied occupation used the city as its headquarters, as did the newly independent Republic of Menghe, but in 1961 the government was hurriedly evacuated to Sunju because the Menghe Liberation Army was advancing on the city. The Democratic People’s Republic of Menghe continued to use the city as their capital after coming to power, and in 1987 it was the site of Major-General Choe's Decembrist Revolution. Having remained the capital under the Socialist regime, it has served almost without interruption as the center of government for 146 years, during which time it has survived five changes of government and been the site of two coups. In 2012, the five central districts of Gyŏngnam Metropolitan Area were annexed from Donghae Province into the Donggyŏng Directly Controlled City, a move which was intended to speed integration of the metropolitan area.


National Government

The Donggwangsan Palace, as seen from Heroes' Square.

As the capital of the Socialist Republic of Menghe, and the former capital of the DPR Menghe, Donggyŏng contains almost all of the nation’s main government buildings, most of which are located in the Old City area. The main centers are located around Heroes’ Square: Donggwangsan at the west end with its facade facing east, the National Assembly Hall on the north side, and the headquarters of the Menghean Socialist Party west of the National Assembly. At the south side of the square is the old headquarters of the Menghe Communist Party, which has been preserved as a museum and still bears battle damage from the 1987 Decembrist Revolution. The High National Court lies further north in the Old City, along the Meridian Avenue.

The Old City also contains all embassies of countries that maintain diplomatic relations with the Socialist Republic of Menghe. Most of these are further south in the city, on or near the Southern Branch Avenue.

City Government

File:Ro Seyun.jpg
Ro Se-yun, current City Administrator of Donggyŏng, giving a speech before the National Assembly in 2013.

Donggyŏng lies within one of Menghe’s three Directly Controlled Cities (직할시 / 直轄市, Jikhalsi). It is organized like a Metropolitan City, headed by a City Administrator and divided into Districts and Counties, but is ranked at the same level as a Province, and is a separate entity from neighboring Chŏnghae and North Donghae provinces. The area administered by the Donggyŏng Directly Controlled City extends beyond the urbanized city limits into the surrounding countryside, and encompasses a number of small towns and farms. It does not, however, cover the entire metropolitan area; several towns in the neighboring provinces are tightly linked to Donggyŏng in their commuting patterns.

Like a Province, Donggyŏng has its own legislative body, the Municipal Assembly. Each District or County is divided into electoral districts proportional to its population, with each district represented by a single seat. Seats are filled through general elections held every year, but the names on the ballot are controlled by the city’s Party Councils: in most cases the Menghean Socialist Party will nominate its preferred candidate in an electoral district, and the Communist and Social-Democratic Parties will endorse them. The city has been experimenting with more competitive elections in recent years, but this usually takes the form of competition within or between the three legal parties; additional parties are still prohibited.

Furthermore, the Municipal Assembly holds little power in practice, and mainly serves as a rubber-stamp and advisory body for the Municipal Government. This body is very similar to the Municipal Governments in other Metropolitan Cities (도시 / 都市, Dosi) of Menghe. It is headed by a City Administrator (도시지사 / 都市知事, Dosi-Jisa), who is appointed by the Central Government, usually with the personal approval of the Supreme Council. The current City Administrator is Ro Se-yun (로세윤 / 盧世允), who was appointed to the position in 2012. Dosi-jisa is sometimes translated as "Mayor," but in official Menghean government texts, the translation Mayor is reserved for Sijang (시장 / 市長), the appointed leader of a Minor City and thus a lower rank carrying less prestige. The position of Donggyŏng City Administrator is considered a highly prestigious post, and it often serves as a stepping-stone for officials bound for important positions in the national leadership.

Administrative Divisions

The Donggyŏng Special Metropolitan Area is further subdivided into twenty-three smaller administrative units. Five of these are Counties (군 / 郡, “Gun”) and lie on the northern periphery of Donggyŏng. These are more rural, and in addition to scattered small towns and suburbs, they include a considerable amount of smallholder farmland. The remaining eighteen are Districts, which are more tightly subordinate to the Metropolitan Government. These are further divided into Myŏn (면 / 面), “Blocks” or “Neighborhoods” mainly responsible for local services. Donggyŏng’s City Administrator appoints the heads of its Counties and Blocks, but candidates are only put forward for promotion if they have succeeded in motivating economic growth and managing social problems in their previous posts.

File:Donggyong Districts.png
Map of Donggyŏng's fourth-level administrative divisions.
Code (2012) Name Sinmun Gumun Type Area Population Pop Density
Totals Donggyŏng 동경 東京 직할시 1,864.90 km2 17,286,133 9,269 /km2
1 Gosŏng 고성 故城 District (구) 48.0 km2 712,513 14,844 /km2
2 Daemun’oe 대문외 大門外 District (구) 38.0 km2 876,796 23,074 /km2
3 Yŏnjang 연장 蓮場 District (구) 35.5 km2 691,213 19,471 /km2
4 Bingang 빈강 濱江 District (구) 15.6 km2 215,936 13,842 /km2
5 Sinsuk 신숙 新宿 District (구) 39.8 km2 1,024,902 25,751 /km2
6 Haebuk 해북 海北 District (구) 84.4 km2 498,845 5,910 /km2
7 Janghŭngdo 장흥도 長興島 District (구) 8.3 km2 153,289 18,380 /km2
8 Jangpyŏng 장평 長平 District (구) 21.8 km2 446,382 20,476 /km2
9 Taekje 택제 澤堤 District (구) 31.7 km2 648,315 20,452 /km2
10 Buchŏn 부천 富川 District (구) 46.9 km2 821,570 17,517 /km2
11 Sansŏ 산서 山西 County (군) 183.8 km2 360,117 1,959 /km2
12 Joyang 주양 朝陽 District (구) 51.0 km2 873,765 17,133 /km2
13 Anyang-sŏ 안양서 安陽西 District (구) 49.8 km2 1,337,583 26,859 /km2
14 Anyang-dong 안양동 安陽東 District (구) 50.4 km2 1,293,114 25,657 /km2
15 Ojŏng 오정 烏井 District (구) 76.5 km2 828,733 10,833 /km2
16 Bukjŏn-sŏ 북전서 北田西 County (군) 145.1 km2 396,222 2,731 /km2
17 Bukjŏn-dong 북전동 北田東 County (군) 315.0 km2 464,556 1,475 /km2
18 Kimpo 김포 金浦 County (군) 275.6 km2 196,270 714 /km2
19 Hyangsan 향산 香山 County (군) 48.4 km2 188,309 3,891 /km2
20 Gyŏngnam-jung 경남중 京南中 District (구) 47.2 km2 1,069,303 22,655 /km2
21 Nampo 남포 南浦 District (구) 49.3 km2 968,847 19,652 /km2
22 Rimsan 림산 林山 District (구) 56.8 km2 715,057 12,589 /km2
23 Haenam 해남 海南 District (구) 98.5 km2 1,430,848 14,529 /km2
24 Damachŏn 다마천 多摩川 District (구) 47.5 km2 1,023,198 21,541 /km2


Accounting for Purchasing Power Parity, the Donggyŏng Directly Controlled City had a GDP per capita of $31,804 in 2015. This was 43% higher than the GDP (PPP) of the nation as a whole, and makes it the second-richest province-level entity in the country. Overall quality of life is even higher, as Donggyŏng’s world-class public services, subsidized housing, and low cost of living stretch average wages further. The city’s website claims it offers foreign workers the best ratio of salary to living costs in the Eastern Hemisphere. Even so, there are marked differences in income between Districts like Bingang and Sinsuk, which are major commercial and finance centers, and Districts like Joyang and Anyang-dong, which are recent apartment complexes built for migrant workers entering the city.


View facing northeast from Gyŏngnam's container port.

In terms of combined output, the Donggyŏng and Gyŏngnam container terminals make Donggyŏng the busiest shipping port in Menghe. The city serves as the main shipping hub not only for North Donghae and Chŏnghae Provinces, but also for the city’s northern interior, which was its old heartland of heavy industry. These ports are connected to the national freight rail network by industrial spurs, which allow direct loading of containers onto stopped trains. In 2015, the two container ports combined processed 25,297 TEUs, a new record for the city.


Most factories in Donggyŏng proper are concentrated along the northeastern coast, in Haebuk District. This location has easy access to the container terminal, and to Metro Lines 2 and 4. It contains a number of large-scale production facilities, such as the Samsan Capital Steelworks, the Samsan Automotive Plant, and the Gangsŏ Capital Automotive Plant. Haebuk District is also the country’s second-largest shipbuilding center after Gyŏngsan, with the Samsan Capital Shipyard producing civilian vessels and the Kimhae Naval Yard producing military warships.

Since the 2000s, the municipal government has sought to improve factory emission regulation in Donggyŏng proper, and relocate the worst-polluting factories further inland. These decisions were mainly intended to address problems with air quality in the city, but they were also a response to rising urban wages and the Central Government’s concerns over developmental inequality between coastal and inland provinces. The municipal government hopes to retain secondary-sector industries in the city, but with improved capital, stronger regulation, and a focus on low-emission stages of manufacturing.

Business and Finance

File:Bingang Skyline.jpg
The skyline of Bingang Island, with the Kimhae Finance and Development Tower at the center.

In 1991, the central government declared the districts of Bingang, Sinsuk, and Haebuk the “Donggyŏng Special Economic Zone,” with temporary tax holidays, more market-oriented policies, and lower entry barriers for foreign-based firms. Although SEZs are usually characterized by more laissez-faire regulation, in Donggyŏng and other Menghean cities the central government still uses personnel ties with Public-Private enterprises to coordinate on development goals and issue performance-based subsidies. In recent years especially, the municipal government has selectively applied certain regulations and taxes to penalize foreign companies on Menghean soil. In 2008 it increased its involvement further by designating Binhae Island a “Special Innovation Zone” and encouraging businesses, research organizations, and university departments to concentrate their operations there and collaborate on research and innovation. In 2011 and 2014 it opened similar “Special Innovation Zones” in selected Blocks of Sinsuk and Jangpyŏng, respectively. Scholars of international political economy designate the Menghean state’s intervention in Binhae as “networking and encouragement rather than regulation.”

The heart of Donggyŏng’s business and finance is Binhae Island itself. Originally founded as a haven for merchants and smugglers "outside the gates," it has long held a reputation for uncontrolled commerce, and in 1868 Sinyi troops burned down most of the island’s shantytowns in a crackdown on the illicit opium trade. Today, it remains more firmly under government control, though it still enjoys SEZ status. In addition to less direct government involvement, it contains the headquarters of Menghe’s largest State-Run Enterprises, and a large number of Jachi-hoesa enterprises. Among the latter are the Kimsŏng (KS) Group, the Samsan Heavy Industries Group, and the Mengguk-Jŏnjin Shipping Group. Near its southern tip stands the Kimhae Finance and Development Tower, a combined office building and supertall skyscraper which includes the new headquarters of the Menghean National Development Bank.


At the time of the 2015 census, the Donggyŏng Directly Governed City area had a total population of 17,286,133 people. Estimates of the population for the entire Metropolitan Area, which extends further into North Donghae and Chŏnghae Provinces, usually fall around 20.5 million. The most densely populated areas form a “middle belt” around the city center, with the traditional-style Old City and the commercial districts of Bingang and Janghŭngdo having a less concentrated residential population.

Like many Menghean cities, Donggyŏng experienced rapid growth during the Menghean economic miracle, with census counts more than doubling between 1990 and 2015. This increase includes the addition of Gyŏngnam, which also expanded substantially, in 2012. Most of the growth has been driven by economic migrants moving to urban areas after land reform made it easier to leave farming villages. Combined with heavy state subsidies for public-private construction enterprises, this led to the rapid expansion of planned apartment complexes on the former outskirts of the city, filling up what are today the Districts of Joyang, Anyang-dong, and Anyang-sŏ, as well as the area up the Taeryong river. A full breakdown of Donggyŏng’s population and population density by District and County can be found in the “Administrative Divisions” section.

According to the 2015 census, slightly under 96% of Donggyŏng’s residents are Meng; survey-takers are forbidden from asking about local ethnicity within this category. Of the remaining 4%, most are Uzeris or other minority groups within Menghe. City records from the beginning of 2017 identified 83,496 “people of foreign birth” registered as Donggyŏng residents, or about 0.59% of the population. Slightly over a third of these were Hinomotan. Under Menghean law, citizenship is very difficult to obtain, though state-sanctioned shortcuts exist for people involved in scientific or research work, a measure intended to accelerate innovation.


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Donggyŏng Central University's Main Hall is featured on the reverse side of the 500-Wŏn bill, along with the pine, plum blossom, and bamboo with cranes overhead, symbolic of scholar-gentry aspiring to enter the government.

As in the rest of the country, education is mandatory for grades 1 through 9, but a large majority of students then go on to high school education (grades 10 through 12). Residents are sent to one of the city’s more than two thousand primary and secondary schools based on their neighborhood (Myŏn), but their entry to High School is based on their score on the National High School Entry Exam. Donggyŏng is considered to have some of the best public schools in the country, in part because it is the home of the political leadership, and includes a number of prestigious boarding schools popular among out-of-province top-scoring students in the Entry Exam.

In addition to its national public schools, Donggyŏng also has a growing number of international schools, many of them taught in a foreign language. At the elementary and middle levels (grades 1 through 9) these are mainly intended for the children of foreign residents, but some of the city’s International High Schools are also marketed toward top-performing students interested in careers requiring foreign language fluency. Although the curricula of international schools are less tightly controlled than those of regular public schools, they are still subject to state influence and central guidelines.

Donggyŏng is a major center of higher education in Menghe, with over 20 universities and colleges within the city limits. Donggyŏng University, founded in 1885, is the oldest university in the country, and is also among the most prestigious, especially in the fields of law, economics, and the social sciences. Other prestigious institutions of higher education in the city include Chŏnghwa University, New Jangpyŏng University, Donggyŏng Gyotong University, and Sudŏk University.

In addition to providing formal education, many of the city’s universities also serve an important research and development role. From the mid-1990s onward, the Municipal Government has worked to build “triple helix” connections between research universities, state agencies, and innovative-intensive enterprises, including mid-size private businesses. In pursuit of this goal, it has established several “Industry and Innovation Zones” in the city, with tax and network incentives for universities and businesses to cluster their R&D departments there and undertake joint projects. As of 2017 there are seven such zones, including the Yongjong Biomedical Complex, the East Sinsuk Chemistry Park, the Hantan High-Tech Park, and the Taeryong-Janghŭngdo Technology Park, with the latter sometimes referred to as “Menghe's Silicon Valley.”

Public Transportation

The Menghean government aims to reduce the use of cars in urban areas, a policy aimed at controlling traffic and pollution. As an alternative, it has invested heavily in public transportation systems, an area where Donggyŏng is an outstanding example. The broader Special Metropolitan Area has the largest rapid transit system of any Menghean province, surpassing even that in Sunju, and one of the largest in the world.


There are two major airports for civilian traffic in the greater Donggyŏng metropolitan area. Donggyŏng Capital Airport, located north of the Sinsuk district, is the older of the two, and today it mostly handles domestic flights and cargo shipments. Most international traffic is routed through Kimhae International Airport, which opened in 2006. Kimhae International Airport is located on an artificial island off the coast of Gyŏngnam, but is connected by an express rail line to Donggyŏng’s major transit centers.


There are three inter-city railway stations in the Donggyŏng metropolitan area: Donggyŏng Station to the west of the city, Sinsuk Station to the north of the Bingang district, and Gyŏngnam Station across the Kimhae Sea. Of these, only Donggyŏng Station offers high-speed trains in and out of the city. Each of these stations also serve as endpoints for commuter rail lines to the suburbs and surrounding towns, and as hubs connecting new arrivals to the metro system. There are also a number of minor stations throughout the city which service “metrotrains,” rapid transit trains resembling elevated metro lines. These run alongside the main railway routes, but on a separate set of tracks, allowing faster trains (intercity, high speed, commuter, and sprinter) to pass them while providing express service to and from the major stations. This leaves a total of four railway tracks, sometimes more, running parallel down the “bundled” routes.

The major railway lines in Donggyŏng were originally built in 1877, when the city was much smaller and they could safely circle around the outskirts at ground level. Since then, the municipal government has narrowed the earthworks on either side and built overpasses above or tunnels below, meaning that there are no longer at-grade crossings with road traffic within the city limits. The Nampo Line, which only serves commuter trains and metrotrains, was built later on and is elevated along its entire course.

After a number of stopgap solutions during the 1990s and early 2000s, freight traffic within the city was fully separated from passenger traffic in 2005. Freight trains at the docks and factory yards can load cargo on a number of spur lines, and then circle around the outskirts to avoid interfering in passenger traffic. The dedicated freight lines also lack overhead wires and are designed with a wider loading gauge allowing trains to transport well cars and other oversize cargo.

Metro System

Donggyŏng prides itself on its metro system, which is one of the largest in Septentrion. As of February 2017 it had a system length of 466.5 kilometers, with 17 lines serving 308 stations. Over the course of 2016, the system recorded 2.2 billion metro trips, averaging a little over 6 million per day. A new line, Line 18, opened in March of 2017, offering express service between some of the most heavily traveled areas in the city center, and there are plans to add three major lines and five extensions to existing lines by 2020. On top of its size, the Donggyŏng metro system is renowned for its cleanliness and timeliness, and in recent years it has become more user-friendly for foreigners.


Places of Interest

Many of Donggyŏng’s historical sites are located in Gosŏng District, also known as the Old City, which is built on the location of the original city of Kimsŏng. It is clearly identified by the surrounding moat formed from diverting the Anyang and Hantang rivers into channels, forming a sideways T shape (in Menghean Sinmun, the vowel component ㅓ) with its perpendicular side to the riverbank. Behind the moat is the enormous Donggyŏng City Wall, a 17.8-kilometer-long fortification which averages 15 meters high with a width ranging from 18 meters at the base to 12 at the top. The wall was damaged during bombing attacks in 1943 and 1944, but has since been restored, albeit with additional road bridges over the moat; visitors can ride bicycles along its entire length.

In order to preserve old aesthetics and attract more tourists, the municipal government passed a law in 1991 protecting historical buildings from demolition and requiring that new buildings in the Old City area be designed in a traditional style. The area is becoming famous for its carefully restored alleyways, many of them converted into dedicated passenger and bicycle areas, though the wide Meridian Avenue and Chŏngyang Avenues remain major through-routes for cars. The Old City is home to Donggyŏng’s largest park, Wŏnmyŏngwŏn (원명원 / 圓明園), which contains the well-preserved Summer Palace of the Kimsŏng Governor.

At the center of Donggyŏng’s Old City is Heroes’ Square, a large 200-by-400-meter plaza on the same East-West meridian as the Donggwangsan Palace. The old Communist Party headquarters building to the south of the square has been converted to a museum of the 1987 Decembrist Revolution and still bears battle damage from that event. A monument to the Decembrist Revolution stands at the east end of the square.

More modern sights can be found in the center-northeast Districts of Bingang and Sinsuk. This is a highly developed commercial area, known for its shopping and luxury services as well as its economic importance. Near Bingang’s southern tip stands the Kimhae Investment and Development Tower, completed in 2014, which at 530 meters is the tallest building in Menghe and among the tallest in the world. Sinsuk, to the north, contains the city’s largest shopping mall and the country’s first Cat café, which opened in 2009. Along with northern Bingang, it has a growing reputation for lively nightlife, though this remains under strict government oversight.


As of 2013, there are over a hundred museums and art galleries in the Donggyŏng Directly-Controlled City. The most famous among these is the National Museum of Menghe, which contains historical artifacts from Menghe’s history, including large exhibitions on the Southwest of the country. Other major historical museums include the New Capital History Museum, the Donggyŏng Museum of Natural History, the Menghean National Military Museum, and the National Museum of Menghe Architecture.

Famous art galleries in the city include the Menghean National Art Museum, the Menghean National Calligraphy Museum, and the Donggyŏng Museum of Traditional Menghean Art. As in the rest of the country, the Menghean government’s censorship of “destructive political themes” and its critical view of modern art have resulted in a municipal policy that tends to promote traditional art while stifling more avant-garde movements. Donggyŏng’s art academies are known for promoting the “Refined Traditional School,” as well as a form of Socialist realism, though Donggyŏng’s State Modern Art Academy remains among the most influential in the nation.

Other prominent cultural sites within the city include the large Donggyŏng Central Concert Hall regularly hosts performances by the Donggyŏng Philharmonic and the Menghean National Symphony Orchestra, and the National Conservatorium for Donghae Folk Music.


The main language spoken in Donggyŏng is the Donghae dialect of Menghean, which since 1929 has been the official dialect taught in schools. Migrants from other areas of Menghe, especially older workers, may have been raised with other dialects, especially workers from the Southwest who speak Sylvan or Uzeri. But Donghae Menghean remains the main lingua franca within the city and across the nation.

Donggyŏng’s Municipal Government initially dragged its feet in adding English subtitles to signs and maps, viewing the change as unpatriotic. English subtitles were made mandatory on the Metro system in 2004, and English voiceovers were added in 2008, but at first only on major lines. Early translations were often criticized for their lack of effort, resulting in poor grammar or inconsistent transcription; since 2012, the Municipal Government has fought to address this problem, as a way of improving Donggyŏng’s reputation as a world-class city.

Relationship with Sunju

Donggyŏng’s culture today is often in a state of rivalry with Sunju, the largest city in Menghe by population. Of the two, Sunju is generally considered more liberal and worldly, at least by Menghean standards, while Donggyŏng is relatively more closed and conservative. This difference dates back at least as early as the Three States Period, when Donggyŏng became the capital of the State of Sinŭi; even before then, Donghae Province was long considered a hotbed of anti-foreign sentiment. Today, the city is open to the world and a major trade hub, but it remains more nationalist and less “Westernized” than Sunju or the other southern ports.

Since 1990, the Menghean central government has fostered this sense of contrast, encouraging productive competition between the two municipal governments. Many of Donggyŏng’s new policy initiatives, such as the addition of high-speed rail and the creation of hydrogen-car refueling stations, were a direct response to Sunju developing a similar program in previous years. In other areas, such as the first cat café in the country, Donggyŏng moved first and Sunju followed soon afterward. This rivalry extends down to individual citizens of both Directly Controlled Cities, especially at national-level sporting events between the cities’ teams, though the central government has sought to prevent this from becoming a source of strong regional identity.


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Results of the 2015 census question on citizens' religious affiliation.

The distribution of religions within Donggyŏng resembles that within the nation as a whole. In the 2015 census, the vast majority of citizens reported their faith as "No Religion or Chŏndoism," a combined category which exists to reflect the fact that Chŏndoism is more worldly philosophy than religion. Official surveys taken outside the census suggest that 43% of all Donggyŏng residents have an ancestral altar or shrine in their household, or in a family household outside the city, and various unofficial surveys estimate that close to 70% have knelt at a Sindo or Chondo altar, shrine, or temple in the last 12 months. Both figures suggest widespread use of religious traditions among people identifying as non-religious, a typical feature of modern Menghean culture.

In addition to Sindoists and the non-religious, there is a small Shahidic minority, which makes up about 3% of the population in the Directly Controlled City. The vast majority of these are in-country migrants from the southwest, or Hwae Shahids (회 / 回) descended from ancient Menghean converts, rather than recent immigrants from abroad.

The Sŏnnongdan, or Temple of Agriculture, in the Old City. Sindoism has experienced a revival in recent decades, but many of the city's old temples have been turned into museums.

Only half a percent of Donggyŏng residents identified themselves as Christians in 2015, slightly above the national average but still very low. This is partially the result of the city’s past policies towards missionaries; Donghae Province was a hotbed of anti-Christian campaigns in the 19th century, and with the exception of the Menghe Federative Republic and Republic of Menghe periods, city and national governments since then have been hostile toward foreign religions.

Prominent historical religious buildings in the city include the Temple of the Sŏnghwangsin (City God), the City Temple of Gongja, the Sŏngindan of Choe Je-u, and the Eastern Imperial Temple of Heaven. All of these are located in the Old City, and serve both Sindoist and Chondoist worshippers, though they are also major attractions for tourists. The oldest Shahidist house of worship in the city is the Dongga Mosque, built 900 years ago. In 2007 the municipal government opened a large Sŏngindan (Saint Temple, or shrine for a deceased great person) dedicated to the Donghŭi Emperor, who had ruled Menghe from 1937 to 1944. This decision sparked protest from the Menghe Government in Exile and other foreign governments, who accused the Menghean regime of glorifying Menghe’s role in the Great Conquest War.


Parks and Natural Areas

Jŏnryunjang Temple on the western edge of the city. Forested hillsides like these provide a quiet refuge around the bustling city.

Donggyŏng’s largest park, Wŏnmyŏnwŏn, is located in the Old City area and encompasses an area of 170 hectares, of which 58 are covered by water. Other large parks are scattered throughout the metropolitan area, along with a larger number of small ones not shown on the map above. As a result of the demand for rapid growth during the 1990s and 2000s, city officials often planned apartment complexes close together, resulting in a high population density but few large green areas in the apartment districts of the city’s middle band.

For much of the city’s history since 1900, the slopes of the surrounding hills and mountains were cut bare to supply firewood and open up marginal farmland, and historical records suggest that this was a problem in the Chŏngŭi Dynasty as well. Trees in the area began to grow back after 1980, in part due to the proliferation of other heating systems, but only in sparse patches, and in times of hardship villagers regularly raided these areas in search of fuel. In 1991, Chairman Choe Sŭng-min personally ordered the creation of Protected Natural Areas on most of the local mountain slopes, along with a large-scale reforestation project. In addition to improving natural beauty, this policy also reduced the danger of mudslides during periods of heavy rain by improving root cover in the soil.

Since then, forests have returned to the hills around the city, though the trees are still young in some patches. Much of the forested mountain land remains off-limits to large-scale development, though since the 2000s especially the municipal government has built new light roads, footpaths, and eating areas in the parks. Since 1997, the municipal government has also built three funicular railways to peaks with good views, one in Daemunoe-Sansŏ and two in Rinsan. Especially given the density of the city’s urban growth, these surrounding natural areas are very popular among locals, and they attract a large number of tourists as well.

Air Pollution

Donggyŏng smog during a severe pollution alert in 2009. The situation has improved somewhat since then, but experts say there is a long way to go.

Donggyŏng is less polluted than some other large Menghean cities, in part because it benefits from variable sea breezes to disperse the buildup of polluted air. Even so, the presence of Donggyŏng Port and its related heavy industries northwest of the town has long created problems with air quality, especially during the recent period of rapid economic growth. Air pollution can be especially severe during the winter months, when the prevailing winds blow in from the northeast, channeling air over the factories into the Taeryong river valley.

As early as 1989, Choe Sŭng-min personally ordered that chemical factories dumping waste into the Kimhae Sea be closed down and their managers put on trial, a measure intended to deter future developers from violating state regulations. Even so, for most of the decades that followed pollution continued to increase, as new steel and concrete facilities opened in the Haebuk District and car ownership rose. By the mid-2000s, complaints about air quality were becoming a major problem, even among the national leadership.

The city’s successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics spurred stronger efforts to control pollution. In 2010, City Administrator Ri Do-Hyŏn set a hard deadline for “polluting industries” to either relocate elsewhere or radically improve emission standards. Many of the city’s Public-Private heavy industry conglomerates chose the latter path, including Samsan, which invested hundreds of millions of Won in retooling its Capital Steelworks facility with new smokestack scrubbers and more efficient heating equipment imported from abroad. By offering subsidies for companies that chose to stay, and partnering with universities to develop more efficient equipment and scrubbers, the central government used this opportunity to create a core area of more capital-intensive manufacturing firms in the capital city. This policy also closed or relocated all coal-fired power plants within the Directly Controlled City area; as of 2015, the vast majority of electricity used in Donggyŏng comes from recently built nuclear power plants, supplemented by the increasing use of solar panels on top of commercial buildings and train stations.

In spite of these measures, air pollution in Donggyŏng often rises far above safe levels, depending on the wind patterns of the day. Much of this is from industrial zones further inland in North Donghae and southern Chŏnghae provinces: many of the factories that left the city in 2010-2012 simply relocated outside the city limits and up the Taeryong river, sometimes to even poorer quality plants. To help address this, the central government has worked to gradually expand Donggyŏng’s pollution restrictions to these areas, and to move heavy industry sites even further into the interior. In spite of central and municipal policies taxing urban automobile ownership and encouraging public transportation and bicycle sharing, rising car ownership remains another source of both air and noise pollution within Donggyŏng.

New Environmental Initiatives

In 2009, the central government partnered with the private start-up company Tabore (타보레) to form an experimental public bike-sharing program, with 2,000 bicycles and 40 stations, 20 of which could be relocated to meet new assessments of demand. By 2015, the program had expanded to over 80,000 bicycles and over 3,000 stations, and the municipal government hopes to double the number of bikes by 2020. The network is mainly targeted at last mile commutes between metro stations and final destinations, especially in residential and suburban areas where metro and commuter train stations may be further apart. It is also popular in the Old City, where it serves tourists as well as locals.

Beginning in 2013, the municipal government has also tightened heating efficiency and insulation standards for new buildings, and encourages existing buildings to upgrade their systems. In suburban and peripheral areas especially, the municipal government aims to install natural gas heating in place of coal-based heating stoves, which are very inefficient and usually burn low-quality scrap coal. Poor insulation and inefficient home heating stoves, along with inland wind patterns, are often cited as a reason why air quality declines so severely in the winter months.

Military Installations

Parade Route

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Vehicles approaching Heroes' Square in the National Day Parade of 2013.

Every year on National Day, May 25th, a large military parade proceeds down the Old City’s Meridian Avenue to celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the Menghean regime. On its southward route, it passes the reviewing stand between Donggwangsan and Heroes’ Square. The political leadership, including Marshal Choe, stand on the balcony in front of the Donggwangsan palace to review the troops, while the square is filled by the military band and other soldiers and spectators standing in formation. Traditionally the parade has served as a venue for the military to formally unveil new combat vehicles, as well as a general site for rallying public nationalism.

For the first few years after the Menghean regime came to power, it also held a ceremony and re-enactment on December 21st to commemorate the anniversary of the Decembrist Revolution. In 1995 the central government ended these parades and re-enactments, citing concerns over cost and cold weather but also motivated by concern that they might glorify the overthrow of a regime, though an exception was made in 2012 for the 25th anniversary of the event.


About 40 kilometers northwest of the city center is the Tojin Airbase, a large military facility hosting land-based aircraft for the Menghean Navy. The airbase is still in active operation, and hosts fighters, maritime patrol aircraft, and maritime strike bombers. In a conventional war, it would form a keystone of Menghe’s defense from the northeast.

Declassified military planning papers also state that in the event of a major conventional war, the Menghean Navy would take control of the city’s civilian airports. They would then use national airliners to evacuate refugees and bring in supplies and soldiers, and use the runways as additional forward bases for aircraft brought in from inland training fields.

Naval Facilities

Donggyŏng is the site of the Kimhae Naval Yard, one of the Menghean Navy’s main military shipyards. Established in the late 19th century, the facility is surrounded by a moat and a high concrete wall, originally meant to keep out trespassers and prevent spies from seeing inside. The Kimhae Naval Yard built many of Menghe’s past battleships and cruisers, and many of its later missile cruisers. Since 1990, many shipbuilding contracts have moved to the southwestern ports of Gyŏngsan and Musan, but the Kimhae Shipyard remains the only facility in the country with a drydock large enough to build and overhaul the Dinmeizori Daizhengdang class aircraft carriers.

In addition to these modern facilities, the wider Kimhae Sea coast has historically been home to a number of older forts and defenses, some of which are still standing today. The oldest of these, a Chŏngŭi-era castle at the mouth of the Taeryong river, was destroyed by bombing in 1944, though its stone-coated earthwork foundation still remains. More popular sites lie 50 kilometers northeast where the Kimhae Sea meets the Donghae Sea; there, within the city of Binhae and at the northwest point of Daema-do, are coastal gun batteries built in the late 19th century and expanded in the 1930s and 1940s. The core areas of the batteries, which include 400mm guns used for coastal defense during the Great Conquest War, were significantly restored in the 1990s and reopened to the public as museums in 1996.

Emergency Facilities

During the 1970s, the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Menghe started building a series of bunkers and bomb shelters beneath Donggyŏng, to shelter its inhabitants in the event of a nuclear or conventional bombing attack. Construction escalated in the middle of the 1980s, after an international trade embargo aimed at Menghe’s nuclear weapons program led to concerns over all-out war. In 1991, the Menghean government declassified this bunker construction program and opened the existing facilities to the public; these included large storerooms for food, military-grade communications centers, and tunnels large enough to accommodate cars and trucks, as well as shelter for an estimated 200,000 people. Most of these facilities were connected to one another by underground tunnels, which also connected to metro stations and major public buildings as entry points. The system averages 30 meters beneath the surface of the ground, with some chambers as deep as 60 meters, enough to protect it from nuclear blasts overhead but not enough to protect it from conventional bunker-busting munitions.

During the 1990s and 2000s, the Menghean government lifted the requirement that all new apartment buildings in the capital contain a bomb shelter, a move intended to reduce construction costs in the building boom. It also sold off many of the existing underground spaces, which met fates ranging from storage rooms and parking garages to museums and themed restaurants.

Notably, the 1991 declassification of DPRM-era bunkers did not extend to facilities under Donggwangsan and other government buildings, which were implied to exist but never opened to the public. This has spawned popular conspiracy theories about a “second bunker network” built at an even greater depth. The more credible versions, corroborated by the accounts of a few former intelligence officials, describe a secret metro tunnel connecting Donggwangsan to a bunker under Mount Ulsan, 10-15 kilometers directly due west. The tunnel is usually described as level, starting at 75 kilometers deep but reaching a depth of over 300 kilometers as Mount Ulsan rises above it. From there, accounts differ over the size of the emergency bunker, from a small shelter for the upper leadership to an extensive military command and control facility.

Rumors about the second bunker network expanded in 2011, when some popular magazines began to speculate that the government was using the ongoing metro expansion campaign to cover up the noise and activity of expanding secret bunkers. For its part, the national government has dismissed all of these reports as hollow conspiracy theories, stating simply that “adequate measures exist to secure the life and safety of the Leader and the Supreme Council in the event of a catastrophic war.”

See also