Rason Special Economic Zone
Located on the northeastern tip of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Rason SEZ is a warm water port which is governed separately from the surrounding North Hamgyong Province. The region was governed as part of North Hamgyong prior to 1993, then split to become a directly governed city, similar to Pyongyang, in 2004.
The region consists of two major areas. One county and one district. The larger of the two settlements is Rajin; the other is Sonbong. Both port cities, the region was initially named the 'Rajin-Sonbong Special Economic Zone', the two names were later combined to create the 'Rason Special Economic Zone'.
The SEZ was established to encourage foreign direct investment into the DPRK. Currently, there are investors from China, Russia and Mongolia; two of which countries border the economic zone. Rason is the only region of the DPRK which borders Russia - the Tumen River border is only traversable via a rail bridge.
The area is governed by the Committee of External Economic Relations (CEEC) who have total control over which foreign companies are invited to operate in the area. There is a dedicated law governing the region which stipulates what is permissible in the region.
RAJIN | 라진구역
SONBONG | 선봉군
Thermal Power Plant
East Sonbong Station
Rajin & Sonbong
Rajin District (라진구역) and Sonbong County (선봉군) are the two regions which make up the Rason Special Economic Zone. Both are port cities, although Rajin is the larger of the two.
Historically, Rajin & Sonbong served as an alternate port for the Soviet Union when Vladivostok was unavailable. The presence of two warm-water ports so near the USSR was an opportunity for Moscow since most of their ports froze over during the Winter. This made the Rason region a strategically important area.
The port at Rajin consists of three main piers, two of which are owned by China and the other by Russia. The port, which is located south of the port at Sonbong, has a capacity to handle 3 million tonnes of cargo. Rajin is also the site of a Korean People's Army Naval Training facility.
Sonbong port, located north of Rajin, had the capacity to handle between 2 and 3 million tonnes of cargo. As well as the port, Sonbong is also the site of a major thermal power station as well as a revolutionary site and museum dedicated to a visit to the area by Kim Jong Suk, the wife of the President Kim Il Sung, in 1945 after the liberation from the Japanese occupation.