Pochon is a county (kun) in northern Ryanggang Province. The county's northern border the Amnok river which serves as the international border with China. The area sits just south of the Samjiyon city region and of the sacred Paektusan (Mt. Paektu).

Battle of Pochonbo

The area is famous for being the site of one of the most famous battles between the Japanese occupying forces and the Anti-Japanese Guerilla Forces based in northern Korea and Manchuria, then-Manchukuo.

On 3 June 1937, between 150 and 200 members of the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army crossed the Amnok river which divided Korea from Manchuria. This military force had been formed in 1936 and was under the de jure command of the Communist Party of China. However, the distance between the CPC HQ in Ya'nan made this impractical so de facto control was with the USSR. Kim Il Sung held significant rank in the army alongside many future high-ranking DPRK officials such as Kim Chaek (who gave his name to the North Hamgyong City) and Choe Yong Gon, Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army during the Korean Conflict.

KCNA: Kim Il Sung ordering the attack
Pochonbo Monument in Hyesan

Official accounts report that, at 22:00, Kim Il Sung fired a single shot into the air to order the attack. His forces occupied much of the town of Pochon and took control of most of the infrastructure including the local police station and post office.

Despite the apparent victory, the guerillas only held the town for a day before retreating back over the Amnok river into Manchuria. The President Kim Il Sung later wrote in his memoirs that the attack was meant to send a message to the Japanese rather than to secure territory. 


There is a monument to the battle in the centre of the provincial capital city Hyesan.

Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble

One of the best known legacies of the battle is the DPRK's first eletronic pop music band the 'Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble' which takes its name from the battle.

The band was formed in 1985 when it split from the Mansudae Art Troupe. Music from the band is often played on the radio and it is reported to be amogst the country's most popular musical groups.

Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble
KCNA: A painting dramatising the events at Pochonbo
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