Changjin Lake is a large body of water located in Changjin county in South Hamgyong Province. The lake is set deep within the Rangrim mountain range; it is sometimes known as the Chosin Reservoir based on the old Japanese pronunciation.

The lake serves as the source of the Taedong river which runs from Changjin through South Pyongan Province, through Pyongyang and eventually out into the West Sea near the city of Nampo.

The lake is partially man-made and serves as a reservoir providing the surrounding area with water. There is a small railway link between Changjin county on the Changjin line of the Korean State Railway; the line runs from Changjin to Yonggwang on the Sinhung line.


As with many of the northern provinces, agriculture is limited to livestock rather than crop production due to the landscape. The area is an important centre for mining; there are large deposits of gold, graphite, and silver as well as other minerals in the area. Changjin is also an important lumber production centre due to the extensive forests which extend throughout the county.

Changjin Lake today
Map of the Chinese military advance

Battle of Chosin Reservoir

Perhaps the most famous attribute of the site is the battle that occurred there in 1950 as part of the ongoing Korean conflict.  The battle took place soon after the Chinese military joined the war in support of the DPRK's Korean People's Army.

On the 27th of November, a combination of Chinese attacks and ambushes on both the western and eastern sides of the reservoir drove the US military back to the town of Hagaru-ri on the southern tip of Changjin Lake.

By the 6th of December, the US forces had regrouped and planned to break out of Hagaru-ri and move towards the port of Hungnam, near Hamhung, where they could evacuate.

Despite constant attack from the People's Volunteer Army forces, the troops reached Hungnam on the 11th of December and were evacuated. According to US sources, over 1,000 personnel were killed during the operation which effectively kicked the UN forces out of northern Korea.

Soldiers fighting through the harsh winter at Changjin
Changjin Lake; circa 1950
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