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The centre of Kaesŏng

Kaesŏng (개성, 開城) is a city in North Korea, only 8 km (5.0 mi) from the DMZ with South Korea. Twelve historic monuments and sites in Kaesong were inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013.


Kaesong is a small historical city that was a capital of the Koryo Dynasty (918–1392 CE) for several hundred years. It was also the only major city that changed hands between North and South Korea as a result of the Korean War.

It was well-known for a time for the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a "special economic zone", developed by Hyundai Asan with North Korea. In 2012 this special administrative industrial region had over 50,000 North Korean workers typically working for about 20% of the South Korean minimum wage in dozens of brand-new factories operated by more than 100 South Korean companies. Although relatively successful both economically and politically, it ceased operations in 2016 due to disagreements around North Korean nuclear tests, and as of 2024 has been almost completely officially abandoned as a project by both North and South.

Get in[edit]

View from the South

On some of the DMZ tours in South Korea you can see Kaesong from the 'Ganghwa Peace Observatory'. You may see the occasional convoy of trucks bringing manufactured goods across the border into South Korea. You can not use your own camera, although coin-operated binoculars are provided.

The only realistic way to visit Kaesong is from Pyongyang, (which you can reach from Beijing as a part of an organized tour) by highway, about 2½ hours away. This is often combined with a North Korean DMZ visit.

There are connections to South Korea via road and rail through the DMZ, although these routes are heavily restricted and limited to business and diplomatic traffic only.

In the past there were group tour buses running daily from Seoul (taking about 2 hours), however this was stopped by North Korea some years ago and it is unclear when they will become available again.

By rail, there is the 1 Kaesong Station Kaesong station on Wikipedia (built with South Korean funds) however it appears not to be in use.

Get around[edit]

Visitors to the city must be accompanied by a tour guide, and all your travel will be arranged for you.


Nam Gate in Kaesong
  • 1 Nam Gate (남대문, South Gate). Built between 1391 and 1393, at the same time as the inner citadel of the walled city. The citadel used to have seven gates, but only Nam Gate is left. During the Korea War it was severely damaged and rebuilt in 1954. It still contains the 14 tonne Yŏnbok bell cast in 1346. Namdaemun (Q6961477) on Wikidata Namdaemun_(Kaesong) on Wikipedia
  • 2 Students and Children's Palace. A smaller version of the Children's Palace in Pyongyang.
  • 3 Sonjuk Bridge (선죽교, 善竹橋). A small stone bridge dating back to 1216. It is only 7 m long and 2.5 m wide. Lee Bang Won, the third king of the Chosun Dynasty and son of first king of that dynasty, had his opponent Jong Mong Ju executed on this bridge in 1392. It is named after a bamboo that grew up beside the bridge.
  • 4 Tomb of King Kongmin (Hyonjongrung Royal Tomb, 공민왕릉). On a hill 13 km outside Kaesong are the tombs of King Kongmin and his queen; from the tombs there is a nice view of the surrounding scenery. This is a particularly good tomb to visit owing to it being in close to its original state with little reconstruction. The coffin of Kongmin can be seen nearby in the Koryo Museum in Kaesong. Tomb of King Kongmin (Q709266) on Wikidata Tomb_of_King_Kongmin on Wikipedia
Tomb of King Wanggon
  • 5 Tomb of King Wanggon (Hyŏllŭng Royal Tomb). King Wanggon was the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty and died in 943. The original tomb was badly damaged by the end of the Japanese occupation, and most of the site today has apparently been reconstructed. Tomb of King Wanggon (Q7818624) on Wikidata Tomb_of_King_Wanggon on Wikipedia
Kaesong Old Town
  • 6 Kaesong Old Town. The old town is one of the best preserved in all of Korea, and traditional Korean-style buildings dating back from the Joseon period can still be seen. However, it is typically not included on most tours, though tour guides who trust their groups enough are known to take tourists for a short walk through the old town.
  • 7 Kaesong Industrial Area. Not usually on tourist itineraries, the Kaesong Industrial Area is the only example of inter-Korean cooperation. South Korean companies operate factories with North Korean workers. There are also South Korean convenience stores and banks. Due to the politically sensitive nature of this project, visiting is usually limited to South Korean business people who are investing. Kaesong Industrial Region (Q495424) on Wikidata Kaesong_Industrial_Region on Wikipedia
Pakyon Falls
  • 8 Pakyon Falls. Pakyon Falls (Q6783907) on Wikidata
  • 9 Koryo Museum. This museum was once the Songgyungwan Confucian Academy. Koryo Songgyungwan (Q16766724) on Wikidata Songgyungwan on Wikipedia
  • 10 Kaesong Chomsongdae Observatory (개성첨성대). Chomsongdae (Q12583238) on Wikidata Kaesong_Chomsongdae on Wikipedia



Souvenirs such as DPRK stamps, books written by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Il, and Korean handicrafts are available, and not expensive. Stores selling souvenirs accept US dollars, euros and Chinese yuan.

Ginseng is grown locally and is a particularly good buy both because of its quality and low price.


The Kaesong Folk Hotel also has a restaurant, as do the Foreigner Hotel at Puk Gate by the Pakyon Falls and the Janamsan Hotel near the Sonjuk Bridge.



  • 1 Kaesong Folk Hotel. The majority of visitors are placed here, which is comprised of traditional Korean houses and courtyards converted into a hotel. It has a small souvenir shop and restaurant. If you're not part of a tour group you might have the hotel all to yourself. It is located just a few blocks away from the Nam Gate. Kaesong Folk Hotel (Q6346032) on Wikidata Kaesong_Folk_Hotel on Wikipedia
  • 2 Janamsan Hotel.

Go next[edit]

  • Panmunjom - surreal truce village on the border of North and South Korea

This city travel guide to Kaesong is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.