Hamhung City (함흥시) is the second city of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. With a population of 559,000 inhabitants it is the second largest city in the country and is a major seaport and well linked into the transport network to link up the eastern coast and it’s ports with the northern provinces to allow for imported goods to make their way into the country and for the various products created in each province to be exported. The city is a vital centre for heavy industry and chemical industry, much like other northern cities, the land is not well suited for farming, so almost all of the urban landscape is dominated by industrial factories.
Hamhung has existed for hundreds of years, however it’s position as a major city in the DPRK began with it’s almost total destruction during the Korean War. The late 50s and early 60s saw a major reconstruction project to rebuild the entire city with the help of the German Democratic Republic. The project was cut short due to the growing Sino-soviet split, but many large factories and industrial complexes set the stage for the city to grow into what it is today.
The city is very important to the government in Pyongyang, with its large seaport allowing access to the sea for the inland cities of the northern provinces, it is also the site of the largest theatre in the country and a national museum. The city is connected to the Korean State Railway system with a station on the Pyongra line and Toksan airport, a joint civil and military airport, allows cargo and passenger flights from Pyongyang to further interlink the city with the rest of the country. Hamhung is, alongside Chongjin, a city based primarily around heavy industry, most of it’s inhabitants are factory workers and the products created in the city make up a significant amount of the country’s exports.
Hamhung city has a unique combination of features that make it the second-city of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It’s large factories and large scale urbanisation put you in mind of Chongjin and other industrial cities, however it’s grand theatre and museum is reminiscent of central Pyongyang. Despite it’s status decreasing from a Directly governed city to a municipal city and provincial capital, it’s importance as a seaport and major population centre has seen heavy investment in the city, allowing lots of development to take place in the form of factories, housing and public buildings. Hamhung could see increased growth in the future if the population continues to move into urban cities. The surrounding region is mountainous, meaning people living in the countryside have very little connecting their settlements with the national transport system and so large cities offering employment and housing is an attractive proposition. So far this has helped the city grow to it’s current size, and the future may see that growth continue.