Hyesan is the provincial capital city of Ryanggang Province, although, not the largest city; Samjiyon claims that title. The city is located in the midst of a landscape dominated by mountains.
The bulk of the city has been built up along the riverbank of the Amnok river which serves as the Chinese border. The land alongside the river is much more level and so provides a better base for construction. This theme is seen elsewhere in the country with cities like Hoeryong, in North Hamgyong Province, on the banks of the Tumen river.
The area has around 80% of the copper available to the country. The Hyesan mine outputs around 10,000 tonnes of copper concentrates each year.
As with many cities in the northern regions of the DPRK, the practicality of successful agriculture is limited due to the harsh, mountainous landscape. Hyesan is a centre for materials processing with lumber mills, textile mills and papers mills operating in the city amongst others.
Monument to the Battle of Pochonbo
The city of Hyesan and the Amnok river
There is a monument in the city centre dedicated to the Battle of Pochonbo. During Kim Il Sung's anti-Japanese guerilla campaign, his army invaded the town of Pochon, near Hyesan, from Manchuria.
According to official history, around 150-200 guerillas crossed the Amnok river on the 4th of June 1937. The Korean forces reportedly destroyed much of the infrastructure in the area and took the town from the Japanese, however, they later retreated back over the Amnok river into Manchuria.
The Ryanggang Provincial Art Theatre is located in the city centre and backs onto the Amnok riverbank.
Hyesan is the site of one of the few border crossings between the DPRK and China. Located very near the centre of the city, a small road bridge crosses the river into the Chinese city of Changbai.
The tip of the flag on the Monument to the Battle of Pochonbo can be seen above the treeline from the Chinese side of the Amnok river.