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This page was last updated on: September 1, 2013
The Musan Report
Introduction to Musan (무산) & Musan County
Musan Landmarks & Monuments
Musan City & Area Maps
Location : (42.22° 42′ 11 North,129.21 43′ 21 East)
Time Zone: GMT/UTC Time - Asia/Pyongyang timezone (9 hours)
Elevation : 488 meters.
Surface Area: No information available.
Urban - No Data.
County of Musan - no information available.
Population: In 1979 a Russian Encyclopedia listed Musan as having a population of about 50,000. According to estimates today the town of Musan counts around 100 thousand to 200 thousand citizens. Reports on this point are however conflicting. Some reports go as low as 10 to 20 thousand citizens which refers to effects of famine. This seems exaggarated.

Musan county lies in the central inland part of North Hamgyong Province the northernmost part of North Korea. The County is bordered to the northeast by Hoeryong and County, to the east by Puryong County and also to the east by Chongjin City’s Buyun Ward and Songpa Ward. To the south Musan county is bordered by Kyongsong (Saebyol) County, and to the west and south-west by Yonsa County (which was previously a part of Musan County). In addition it borders Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of Jilin Province of China (P.R.C.). to the northwest across the Tumen River. The nearest Chinese town is Nanping, on the west bank of the Tumen River but a small distance downstream.
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Alphabetically ordered list of Monuments, Landmarks and other sites of interest in and around Musan
- Pomuigusok archeological site in Musan County.
Musan is home to one of the oldest archeological sites identified within Korean territory today. The so called Pomuigusok site consists of the remains of a primitive ancient village of the Gojoseon (Chosŏn) civilization, which today is regarded as the oldest identifyable "Korean" civilization in history. The Pomuigusok village of early history left behind traces of both bronze age and iron age impliments. It was built out of square (probably mud) houses with a central fireplace. Ancient remains found at the site include stone tools such as polished stone axes, stone hoes (used in agriculture) and small obsidian tools. Other relics found were shards of early pottery, which seem to have resprsented the earliest forms of "Dou" pottery found in Korea. Other such sites have been identified along the Tumen River valley between Musan and Hoeryong, but not many have been excavated at this time. The iron axe found at the site suggests that the site was still inhabited when the civilization moved from the bronze age into the iron age.
Pomuigusok is not an tourist landmark or an otherwise easily found and identified site. Ask local authorities or citizens for directions when in Musan.

A Full listing of Musan City Landmarks, Monuments, Hotspots and other sites of importance in alphabetical order. Search through the list to find your Full Report and Photo-Virtual Tour of each monument or landmark within the Town, or County of Musan in North Hamyong Province in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea.
Public Transport in Musan
Main Railroad Station of Musan - Photos and Introduction
There are two train station in or near the "City" of Musan. The Main Station of Musan is Musan main Station. It is situated on the south east corner of the single district that makes up the Town of Musan. The second station of Musan is named: Musan Cheolsan Station. The Cheolsan Station is situated at some distance due East of  the only  District of the Town.

Traffic of persons by train is highly monitored in North Korea, especially in North Hamgyong Province, which is closest to the Chinese Border. For North Korean citizens a travel permit is required to travel. Reportedly, in addition there are PSM agents on the trains and railway staff doing hourly checks of travel permits and tickets. Apparently, checks may include shake downs and even checks for magnetic and radio-magnetic signals.
Book Hostels Online Now
Complete Listing of available Hotels in Musan, Musan County, North Hamyong Province, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea).
Musan has a two Railroad Station. There is no local or regional airport. All air traffic to and from North Korea travels through Pyongyang International Airport.

There are three roads leading to and from the Town of Musan.
The main roads are the Musan to Dae Hong Dan - heading south, and Musan to Hoeryong road north-eastward which follows the banks of the Tumen River. In addition there is the eastbound Musan to Puryong Road which branches to the towns of Hongam and Yonsa. A century ago this wild and contested frontier area had but a few roads and various forest trails. It was these minor roads and trails that the Japanese occupation forces made use of when they invaded Jilin Province in China in 1931 AD. In order to get from Korea to the nearest strategic Chinese town, now Yanji (Yeongil) City, the Japanese used a military road between Musan, Helong Town and Yanji (Yanbian). From there they could march on the Manchurian Railway for the take-over of vital economic arteries and interests in the region while preparing to face the Russian Army rather than the Chinese.

One road leads northward and downstream along the Tumen River, first to pass the Chinese Town of Nanping (in Helong County of Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China (P.R.C.)) - where there is as yet NO bridge across the Tumen River, and then, roughly following the hillsides along the river many miles up until it cuts inland towards the towns of Yuson and Hoeryong in North Hamgyong Province.
A second road, again not identified by number or name, leads eastward out of Musan proper to pass along the new city district of Cheolsan and its Cheolsan Station to lead south eastward into the mountains following the Songchonsu river upstream. This route has two bisections, the first one leading north and away from the main road to meet the number one road far north of Musan. The second bifurcation of the road has one branch cutting eastward and the other heading further south and south eastward through the mountains. The eastward route leads near but not to the town of Komusan, whereas the other just continues through the mountains with seemingly the only end destination of Pyongyang far to the south.
The third road in- and out of Musan leads south out of town and follows the valley of the Tumen River upstream.  This third road travels for several miles along or near the river banks, but ends just south of the Chinese town of Xinjicun, which of course is situated on the opposite bank of the Tumen River. Just beyond Xinjicun, on the Chinese side, lies  a site known as "Ancient City Likun". Opposite, on the North Korean side of the river stands a modestly sized village or working camp, where the road currently officially terminates (a designated on the Google Map). In reality however, an older and more modest road continues right alongside the river bank for many miles further. It connects to a road system around the village of Taehongdan.
There are no specifics available on the early history of Musan. For general information on the history of both North and South Korea, please refer to: "Time-Line history of the Koreas".
In June of 2009 a farming life in Musan was described by a local citizen as follows; "By the time we finish the day, it is usually midnight; we then go to farming mobilization sessions early in the morning, do a bit of selling in the evening and housework when we come home, prepare for next day, and take care of children, and so on. Between such heavy schedules, we have to attend the political education session and the neighborhood unit meeting, where higher-ups preach the message that defecting is like betraying the country. I gain nothing from the lecture. I just want to come home.” Some local citizens of Musan are considered lucky, as they have family in China who they may be allowed to visit once or twice a year. Such outside contacts are of enormous value in Musan, however they can easily to scrutiny or other measures by suspicious authorities.
The difference between life in Musan, North Korea and even the rural countryside in Jilin Province of China just miles away is striking as another citizen of Musan described while in China; "China is virtually a paradise on earth. Every day feels like a traditional holiday in China. The restaurants serve dizzying amounts of food every day, while we can’t even eat to our stomachs’ content on steamed corn meal even on traditional holidays. Also electricity is so plentiful in China that it is as bright as day even during the night. However, it is so dark at night in North Korea that we can’t go anywhere after the sun has gone down. How can two places with just a river between them be so different? I am just so envious of the Chinese people." Apparently the first thing on peoples' minds is food. Most of the day is spent in "farming mobilization", which means obligatory agricultural labor for the community, which is the State.

State Security Department [SSD or "Bowibu"] building, situated in Musan County.

Medical Facilities:
None listed.

According to a local woman of Musan and given to Amnesty International (at some time between 2005 and 2012); "It is no use going to hospitals because they don’t have any medicines. It’s better to buy medication at markets or directly from Chinese merchants. North Korean doctors aren’t very good – the vendors are more knowledgeable about medicine and illnesses. They inform you which medicine you need to take and how much of it."

Military Facilities:
According to North Korean defectors, there is at least one large hidden underground facility for weapons manufacturing within Musan County and likely more. The facility in question should be inside a mountain at about 15 miles from the Chinese Border and Musan town.
According to the North Korean who worked at the Musan facility until his escape in 1996 worked at the facility. "Once you go in, you don't go out","I volunteered for this, but then I came to realize that it was like a big prison and we were slaves", meaning in this case that the underground weapons factory is a closed camp from which no leave is possible for those assigned to work there.

Sports Facilities:
There is a large, but rather old looking stadium at the north side of Town right on the east bank of the Tumen River.

- Musan Mine, located in the Changryeol labor district(s) of Musan.
The Musan Iron-ore Mine Complex is the largest produce of iron ore in the DPRK and is home to the largest high grade iron deposit in all of Asia. The original reserves were estimated to be around 5.2 billion tons of ore.
The Musan Mining operation is its own state-owned enterprise, not part of an amalgamated state corporation, with eleven (11) departments. Some sources say it contains just under 1 billion tons of iron-ore remaining with part of the yield for processing and shipment via rail. The mine is also reported to contain rare earth minerals. It also has a pipeline which runs directly to the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex in Chongjin, the Capital of North Hamgyong Province.

- Musan Foodstuff Factory, this food factory serves the village but mainly the mine of Musan. According to KCNA State News Agency; "factory with modern production processes turn out 70 odd kinds of foodstuffs, including cake, bread, soda pop, bear, vinegar, corn syrup, distilled spirits, bean milk and noodle. The factory provides those foodstuffs to the miners and county households through service networks on a normal basis.
The quality of our products is not so high at present, but the factory keeps production going on a high level. We are also striving to raise the quality of products through technological updating and scientific research."

According to a publication by South Korean National Intelligence Service in the year 2002, there is a uranium mine in Musan-kun, North Hamgyŏng Province. However, its current status is unknown.

Musan County is administratively divided into the town of Musan (Musan ŭp), a further six labor districts surrounding the town, and fifteen ri (Ri = small farming village) - the latter mostly consisting of mountainous wasteland and some patches of arible land.

The overall economic situation in Musan and North Hamgyong Province is reportedly dire, and has been for years. No specifics can be given. Famines have been reported in the year 2011 and 2012.  Although the people of Musan know their hardships, it is reportedly considered one of the better-off towns in North Korea because it lies on the Chinese border, which gives residents an opportunity to (illegal) cross-border trade.
Find out the Details on the History of Musan
Musan and County have the lowest recorded temperatures within North Hamgyong Province of North Korea. In turn North Hamgyong Province has the lowest average temperatures within the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

No additional Information available at this Time.
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Myonggan, Myonggan County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Namyang, Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
North Korea is considered to be one of the ethnically most homogenous nations in the world. There are therefor no immigrants, except for ethnic Koreans living abroad returning home under a program offered by the North Korean Government. These ethnic Koreans are considered foreigners once they arrive in their ancestral homelands. Not even Chinese have migrated across the National boundaries and stayed in Musan permanently, as far as anyone can tell.
As little or no word comes out of Musan, even if Foreigners went to live in Musan, it is unlikely the outside world would hear of it anytime soon.
Un-authorized travel (without a local permit) within North Korea (DPRK) is not allowed and not possible for North Korean citizens, nor Foreigners.
Probably related to the fact that North Korea's sensitive satellite missile launch site can be found reasonably nearby in Hwadae County of North Hamgyong Province, no tourist agency is currently licensed to operate tourism related trips to any destination within North Hamgyong Province, of which Musan is a part. There is therefor no tourism industry and there are no known Hotels in Musan.
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Musan, Musan County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Onsong, Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Chongjin City, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Puryong, Puryong County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Orang, Orang County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Kilju, Kilju County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Kimch'aek City (formerly Sŏngjin), North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Myongchon, Myongchon County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Kyongsong, Kyongsong County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
2nd Railroad Station of Musan - Photos and Introduction
Musan Main Train Station is the main passenger railway station in Musan. It is the terminus for the Paekmu-Musan Line and the Musan Line, which runs to the city of Chongjin, the capital of North Hamgyong Province.

According to unspecified sources several railroads go across the county of Musan. The supposedly include the Musan Line and Paekmu Line. A 1979 Russian Encyclopedia says that "The city (of Musan) and surrounding ore basin are connected by railroad and highway with the metallurgical centers of Chongjin and Kimchaek".

Musan Line: train 9-10
Gomusan is the station before Musan and Hoiryeong on the Musan Line. No additional information available.

A Railroad mainly intended for the transportation of goods was planned and expected to be completed in the fall of 2012. The railroad was expected to connect Yanji and Musan by October of that year, with the express aim increase the amount of iron brought from the Musan Iron Mine in North Korea into China on the opposite side of the Tumen River. All construction of the last section, a functioning railroad bridge across the Tumen River seems to have been halted at this time.
Even if the bridge is built and the connection made, no transport of persons across the border is to be expected.
Google supported Map of Musan and Musan County in North Hamgyong Province of North Korea (D.P.R.K.), by - Mastermap of Asia (entire). weergeven op een grotere kaart
Although there is otherwise little distinction, for this reason the town can be divided into the central district of Musan ŭp and the newer "Cheolsan District" built north of Cheolsan Station.

Other than the main landmarks of the Main Train Station, the Sports Stadium and the Cheolsan Station, no other sites of interest can be identified. Some of the space to the south west and to the north of Musan Town are in use as farmland.

As for the lands surrounding the town of Musan, most of these are mountainous and of little use for agriculture. In fact, sources say that around  90% is mountainous and uninhabited.
Mountains rise up in all directions around Musan and in effect, the only available lands are those of the Tumen River valley and the Songchonsu River valley.
To the east, and mostly the south extend the numerous high peaks of the
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Paekmu Plateau. The mountains to the north look identical but are part of the Musan Plateau after which the town is named. Even further south the Paekmu Plateaux rises up into the Hamgyong Mountains, which is the main mountain range which passes along the northwest flank of Musan County limiting it by ways of a natural border. Due to its high elevation and high lattitude position Musan County is recognized as the coldest region in North Hamgyong Province as well as North Korea entire.
The town of Musan (Musan ŭp) is the main town and thus administrative Capital of Musan County, which is a part of North Hamgyong Province of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea). The original town is situated inside of a wide curve of the Tumen border river with China. Musan is situated immediately on the eastern bank of the Tumen River. A new district, which is home to the Cheolsan Station, the second train station of Musan, extends eastward from the central district of Musan along the road, the Songchonsu River valley and railway line leading inland.

Nothing much can be said about the town of Musan itself. Although resembling other towns in the region Musan is not so much an agricultural village, but a work camp divided between the well established
Video: Streets of Musan as seen from Nanping, across the border river the Tumen (Source: Sky News, Jan. 2007).
The main town, Musan ŭp, extends between the main train station in the south east corner and a large sports stadium which is erected on the north side of town where the river meets mountainside and no space was left to build more housing and other buildings. On the entire west side the towns expansion is limited by the Tumen River, which forms the natural border with the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of Jilin Province in the Peoples Republic of China (P.R.C.). On the south and south east side the town is overlooked by a high mountain, one of the many solemn green stone cores that are typical of this part of North Korea. Only to the east side of Musan ŭp lies the open space of the valley of the Songchonsu River, which flows out of the mountains hinterland westward through Musan to meet up with the Tumen. The main river in Musan County is therefor the Tumen River, followed by the local tributary the Songchonsu (Cheolsan) River.
mining industry and the regional logging and forestry industry. The Musan Iron Mine, one of the large mines in the country is situated just east of Town and is by all means its main landmark.
The Chinese based tour operator (, one of the very few who are able to offer guided tours to otherwise obscure corners of North Korea, has information about Musan on their website, however they specifically mention that they are not able to offer guided tours to any part of North Hamgyong Province at this time.
As in all of North Korea, no foreign citizens are allowed to dwell around without "proper supervision".
It should be understood that in daily life this means, No foreigners are allowed to travel to Musan and that there certainly is no such thing as a tourism industry. On the contrary, life in Musan, North Hamgyong Province and the rest of North Korea (D.P.R.K.). is said to resemble an Orwellian world as described in the book "1984". Not many people outside of North Korea can be sure however. Although something of a tourist industry seems to be establishing serving those interested in seeing the Korean cities and country-side with their very own eyes, no guided tours pass through Musan. Therefor, there is by all means no direct contact with Foreigners and outsiders. The only word that seems to come out of Musan is the occasional National News item, economic news about the Musan Magnetite Ore mine, or the word of those who have (illegally) crossed the border with China into relative safety. Not much is published of this last segment of news, but Musan has been named as a place of transfer for those who want to get close to the Tumen River and attempt an unauthorized journey into China on the other side of the river.
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Musan, Musan County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Yanji, Yanji County, Capital of Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China (P.R.C.).
Tumen, Tumen County, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China (P.R.C.).
Hunchun, Hunchun County, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China (P.R.C.).
Nanping, Helong County, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China (P.R.C.).
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China Report - Historic Map:
Triangle Tieling, Changchun, Harbin, Mudanjiang, Vladivostok
This Historic Map from the year 1905 AD gives a detailed overview of the Manchurian Regions in the triangle between the South Manchurian Railway (along which situated the Chinese cities of Harbin, Changchun, etc) and the Russian port of Vladivostok.
For reference included in this Map are the main cities of the region marked in Colors to clarify the different nationalities and territories. Rivers, Mountains and other geographic features are marked where possible. Click through for more information on each location.
Sonbong District, Rason City, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Kyŏngwŏn (Saebyol), Kyŏngwŏn County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Kyonghung (Ŭndŏk), Kyonghung County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Adjacent Map of Manchuria created in the year 1905 AD clearly shows that in that year the town of Musan already existed. Furthermore it shows a string of villages lying upstream along the Cheolsan River, which flows towards the town to join the Tumen border river as a tributary.

Although from the opposite bank of the Tumen River Musan seems but a bleak town annex working
camp for the unfortunate where nothing much but worries come to pass, but no matters of world importance might ever happen, exteriors can be deceiving. In reality quite a bit has happened in Musan, although perhaps it has not been mentioned in major world news headlines some information has
been trickling out.
ore. That said, it must be noted that in general, over the last decade (2003 - 2013) North Korea’s mining activities have been at low to very low operation rates. Reportedly, the Musan Iron-ore Mine was operating at approximately 30 percent of capacity in the year 2006. Judging from the news that has come out since, it appears as though little improvement has been made.

On the satellite image the open cast mine is clearly visible just east of Musan Town. However, according to Joe Layburn in the documentary "Children of the Secret State", Musan "looks like a ghost town"and according to him the mine has been abandoned, the factories have shut down, and the only people inhabiting the area is the army.
This may indicate that the mine is now mostly operated by the army rather than by civilians working for the State. No confirmation has been gotten as to Joe Layburns given information, ny now however it is clear that until August of 2013 the mine was officially still in operation.
Heavy mining equipment in operation at the Musan taken during a visit by late General Kim Jong-Il to the Musan Mine in February of 2009.
"Economy of Musan".

The Musan Mine is likely one of the major polluters in the Tumen River and its Basin. Large amounts of so called "tailings" (washing sludge) have been discharged since at least the year 2000. The run off from the mine flows untreated directly into the Songchonsu (Cheolsan) river, which then joins the larger Tumen River at barely a kilometer from the mining site. According to mining experts the ultra-fine iron ore tailings are not toxic but cause severe damage to the river environment as they as they settle and choke the riverbed and degrade the quality of the water.

In 2002 Yonhap Korean News Agency based in Seoul announced to the world that there is also a uranium mine (of unspecified capacity) operating at Musan. No news has made it out to the world about this uranium mine ever since 2002.
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Musan Economy
Musan History
The Musan area has long been known for iron ore mines, lumber, and potatoes. The Musan Mine, a major excavator of iron ore, is located just east of Musan Town proper. In principle, the Musan Mine is one of the largest iron ore mines in the region (and Asia) with a reserve of approximately three billion tonnes of
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Hyesan City, Hyesan County, Capital of Ryanggang Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Pochon City, Pochon County, Ryanggang Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Paegam, Paegam County, Ryanggang Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Taehongdan, Taehongdan County, Ryanggang Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Samjiyon, Samjiyon County, Ryanggang Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Samsu, Samsu County, Ryanggang Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Unhung, Unhung County, Ryanggang Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Pungso, Pungso County, Ryanggang Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Kimhyongjuk (Huchang), Kimhyongjuk County, Ryanggang Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Kimhyongsuk (Muchang Ri), Kimhyongsuk County, Ryanggang Province, North Korea (D.P.R.K.).