North Korea Map: How
the Map of North Korea
has Changed and Developed

North Korea Map

Korea & North Korea Map History

North Korea Map: Early Choson Provinces of Korea
North Korea Map: Districts & Provinces of Late Choson
North Korea Map: Modern Provinces
North Korea Map: Committee for the Five Northern Provinces

The map of the Korean peninsula has changed drastically over the years. The most significant change being the division of the two countries, creating for the first time a map of North Korea. 

Let's explore the map of Korea over the years, and how the North Korea map as we know it today came to be. 

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North Korea Map: Early Choson Provinces of Korea

1392 - 1897

The Choson dynasty ruled the Korean peninsula between 1392 and 1897.

From 1413 until the late 19th century, the map of Korea was divided into 8 provinces. Despite being very dissimilar to the modern divisions, some of the major provincial boundaries have remained in place, albeit slightly moved around or divided further.

Modern-day map of North Korea was more-or-less divided between 4 different provinces:

  • Kangwon
  • Punghae (Hwanghae from 1417) 
  • Yonggil (Hamgyong from 1509)
  • Pyongan

All of these provinces, Kangwon, Hwanghae, Hamgyong and Pyongan, form the basis of the current provincial map of North Korea.

Hwanghae is today split into North & South Hwanghae, Pyongan is now North & South Pyongan, Hamgyong is divided into North & South Hamgyong and Kangwon is split between North and south Korea but remains known in both as ‘Kangwon Province’.

North Korea Map: Districts & Provinces of Late Choson


In 1895, King Gojong decided to abolish the long-established provincial system, establishing instead a series of 23 districts. Each was named after their largest city.

What is today North Korea was made up of (roughly) 8 districts:

  • Pyongyang
  • Haeju
  • Hamhung
  • Uiju
  • Kaesong
  • Kanggye
  • Kapsan
  • Kyongsong

This new system lasted little over a year. In 1896, the original provinces of the Korean map were reestablished, although some were divided into North/South.

Within the modern-day North Korea map, Pyongan and Hamgyong were split into North and South Hamgyong provinces – their boundaries are similar to the modern borders.

North Korea Map: Modern Provinces


After the division of Korea into North Korea and South Korea in 1945, very few changes were left to make.

Kangwon Province was expanded slightly to encapsulate the city of Wonsan, which would then become the Provincial capital.

In 1949, Chagang Province was formed from North Pyongan and in 1954, Ryanggang Province formed from South Hamgyong.

Since 1954, the North Korea map has consisted of 9 provinces and Pyongyang, which ceded from South Pyongan in the aftermath of the division of Korea.

The provinces are as follows:
  • North Pyongan
  • South Pyongan
  • North Hwanghae
  • South Hwanghae
  • Kangwon
  • North Hamgyong
  • South Hamgyong
  • Chagang
  • Ryanggang
Other extra-provincial subdivisions include:
  • Pyongyang Directly Governed City
  • Nampo Special City
Other subdivisions (that are governed as part of a province):
  • Rason Special Economic Area
  • Kaesong Municipal City with Special Status
  • Sinuiju Special Region

North Korea Map: Committee for the Five Northern Provinces

Both North and South Korea claim sovereignty over the territory of the other.

For this reason, South Korea has a small committee in government known as the Committee for the Five Northern Provinces. This agency oversees the five provinces in North Korea.

You might be thinking… there are 9 provinces in the North; however, South Korea does not recognise the divisions made by the North Korean government, instead defining provinces as follows:

  • North Pyongan
  • South Pyongan
  • Hwanghae
  • South Hamgyong
  • North Hamgyong

Kangwon, in their view, is just a part of South Korea’s own Kangwon Province.

Each province also has its own flag as part of the committee.

After learning about North Korea's various areas and provinces on the North Korea map, why not head to explore these places more in-depth with the North Korea Travel Guides

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North Korea Tours

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