The city of Hoeryong is located in the north of North Hamgyong Province and is bordered to the north by China's Jilin Province on the opposite side of the Tumen River. Hoeryong is the most northerly city in the country sitting at a latitude above the provincial capital, Chongjin, and is even further north than the cities of Rajin and Sonbong.
The city was originally a guardpost along the Tumen river built to defend the Choson dynasty against hostile nomads who populated Manchuria. The city gained national importance after 1945 with the rise of President Kim Il Sung to power; his first wife, Kim Jong Suk, was born in Hoeryong.
As with much of the province, Hoeryong is a centre for the mining industry and other heavy industry. Agriculture is also a significant part of the city's economy, which is rare for this part of the country. The flat land along the banks of the Tumen river, on which Hoeryong sits, is suitable for farming; for this reason, much of the surrounding countryside is dedicated to the cultivation of crops.
Birthplace of Kim Jong Suk
Kim Jong Suk, the first wife of President Kim Il Sung and an important figure in the anti-Japanese revolution, was born in 1917 in the city of Hoeryong. Her birthplace has been preserved, similar to that of the President in the Mangyongdae district of Pyongyang.
The city is unique for having a statue of Kim Jong Suk rather than a monument dedicated to the President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il. There is also a revolutionary history museum dedicated to her life in the centre of city, near her native house.
Kim Jong Suk reportedly left Hoeryong in the early 1930s in search of her father in Manchuria. Upon discovering he had died, she joined Kim Il Sung's guerilla army. Official history reports that she once saved his life during an ambush; in 1941, the two married in the USSR, giving birth to the General Kim Jong Il a year later in 1942.
There is a small border crossing over the Tumen river just north of Hoeryong. The crossing appears to have well-maintained customs offices on both sides, despite apparently not being open to most individuals.