the pyongyang metro

There are very few maps available of the Pyongyang Metro. In general, tourists are not allowed to move freely through the city, so there is little need for them. This is a 1997 tourist map (Pyongyang, Foreign Languages Publishing House), although the cut-and-paste typography suggests that its origins are much older (elsewhere in the brochure, Kim Jong Il’s title has been changed from “Dear Leader” to “Great Leader” using the same method). Kwangmyong station, between Samhung and Rakwon, is not depicted as it has been closed, because it is connected to Kumsusan Memorial Palace, which is now Kim Il Sung’s mausoleum.

Released on a need-to-know basis

This next map was created by Wesley Chung (based on a Japanese map by Osamu Abe). It lists possible future extensions to the Pyongyang system. Perhaps drawing upon lessons learned from the 1971 tunneling disaster, the plan includes only one (bridge?) crossing of the Taedong, serving May Day Stadium at Rungna Islet, which appears to continue down Chongnyon Street on the south bank. There are further extensions into the northern and eastern suburbs and a joining of the two existing lines at Mangyongdae, near Kim Il Sung’s reputed birthplace. The extension to Mangyongdae from Kwangbok station on the Hyoksin line (the more northerly of the two extensions on the left) was originally scheduled for completion in October 2000.

Wesley Chung Pyongyang extensions map

The following map appeared on Wikipedia, but has since been removed from its Pyongyang Metro page. It was evidently based on Wesley’s map above, and makes an interesting study in contrasts:

Map based on a map based on a map based on a map based on a map based on a fantasy expansion scheme

The stations contain indicator boards, such as the one pictured below at Yonggwang. The lines are reversed: the map is not geographically correct (unless you’re looking at Pyongyang from the center of the earth). Note the metro logo, the not-in-our-lifetimes extensions at lower left and lower right, as well as the list of nearby attractions (in black) for all stations except the closed Kwangmyong. The buttons indicate the location and distance to the chosen destination.

How it works: You press the button corresponding to the name of the station you want to go to, and the path to your chosen destination lights up. For two lines, that might be overkill, but you can’t say the Pyongyang Metro isn’t user-friendly. That’s my head at the bottom.

Off with his head!

Exercise: Compare the above maps to the official map of Pyongyang below. Note that the subway station locations are not marked. This is about the most detailed map of the city available to foreigners. Streets in Pyongyang don’t have signs, ostensibly because this would slow down a South Korean invasion.

South Korean invasion made easy

The source for the map and the following text is the hardcover book Pyongyang (Korea Pictoral, Pyongyang, 1990). Of course, some things have changed or been added since then; for example, the Monument to the Workers’ Party Foundation is a block north of number 33, and Kumsusan Memorial Palace would be just off the map to the north of May Day Stadium. A certain South Korean newspaper copied this map from this site without attribution, so it’s probably as up-to-date as anything else out there. (Since then this map has appeared, unattributed, on lots of websites, but no one has ever asked me for permission.)

Like all North Korean maps, it omits all but the most significant detail and is not to scale. The map may be hard to read, due to both the indistinct lettering on the original map and the effects of JPEG compression. For the most part, though, you should be able to make out the following (which you can compare with Wikimapia):

Revolutionary Sites and Monuments

  1. President Kim Il Sung’s birthplace at Mangyongdae
  2. Korean Revolution Museum
  3. Party Founding Museum
  4. Chonsung Revolutionary Museum
  5. Monument to Autograph of President Kim Il Sung in Speech on His Triumphal Return
  6. Mangyongdae Revolutionary School
  7. Chilgol Revolutionary Site
  8. Monument to the Fork to Mangyongdae
  9. Tower of the Juche Idea
  10. Monument to the Potong River Improvement Project
  11. Monument to Fallen Soldiers of the People’s Army
  12. Liberation Tower
  13. Friendship Tower
  14. Chollima Statue
  15. Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum
  16. Kim Il Sung Square
  17. Arch of Triumph

Centres of Science and Education

  1. Kim Il Sung Higher Party School
  2. Kim Il Sung University
  3. Kim Chaek University of Technology
  4. Kim Hyong Jik University of Education
  5. Pyongyang Senior Middle School No. 1
  6. University of National Economics
  7. Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace
  8. Pyongyang Students’ and Children’s Palace
  9. Grand People’s Study House
  10. University of International Affairs

Centres of Culture and Art

  1. Pyongyang Circus
  2. State Theatre
  3. Kaeson Cinema House
  4. Korean People’s Army Circus
  5. Tongdaewon Cinema House
  6. East Pyongyang Grand Theatre
  7. Taedonggang Club for the Diplomatic Corps
  8. Taedongmun Cinema House
  9. Ragwon Cinema House
  10. Mansudae Art Theatre
  11. Mansudae Assembly Hall
  12. Moranbong Theatre
  13. Puksong Cinema House
  14. Central House of League of Socialist Working Youth
  15. Songyo Cinema House
  16. Chonsung Cinema House
  17. Korean Documentary Film Studio
  18. Korean Scientific and Educational Film Studio
  19. Korean Folklore Museum
  20. Korean Art Gallery
  21. Korean Central History Museum
  22. Central Workers’ Hall
  23. Chollima House of Culture
  24. Central Youth Hall
  25. TV Hall
  26. Pyongyang International House of Culture
  27. Pyongyang International Cinema House
  28. Pyongyang Art Theatre
  29. Pyongyang Grand Theatre
  30. Open-Air Theatre
  31. February 8 House of Culture
  32. People’s Palace of Culture
  33. Women’s Hall

Centres of Health and Physical Culture and Sports

  1. Red Cross General Hospital of Korea
  2. Pyongyang Maternity Hospital
  3. Hospital of Pyongyang University of Medicine
  4. Kim Man Yu Hospital
  5. Kim Il Sung Stadium
  6. Sosan Football Stadium
  7. East Pyongyang Stadium
  8. Weight Lifting Gymnasium
  9. Basketball Gymnasium
  10. Badminton Gymnasium
  11. Ice Rink
  12. Volleyball Gymnasium
  13. Handball Gymnasium
  14. Indoor Swimming Pool Complex
  15. Combat Sports Gymnasium
  16. Table-Tennis Gymnasium
  17. Pyongyang Indoor Stadium
  18. Rest House
  19. Baseball Ground
  20. Football Ground
  21. Yanggakdo Football Stadium
  22. May Day Stadium
  23. Athletics Gymnasium

Hotels, Shops and Welfare Service Centres

  1. International Communications Centre
  2. International Post Office
  3. Ryanggang Hotel
  4. Kwangbok Department Store
  5. Taedonggang Hotel
  6. Ragwon Department Store
  7. Ryugyong Hotel
  8. Moran Noodle Restaurant
  9. Moranbong Hotel
  10. Raengchon Restaurant
  11. Munsu Health Complex
  12. Potonggang Hotel
  13. West Pyongyang Hotel
  14. Songyo Noodle Restaurant
  15. Pyongnam Noodle Restaurant
  16. Central Post Office
  17. Pyongyang Underground Shop
  18. Changgwangsan Hotel
  19. Changgwang Health Complex
  20. Chongryu Restaurant
  21. Chilsong Restaurant
  22. Pyongchon Noodle Restaurant
  23. Pyongyang Koryo Hotel
  24. Pyongyang Hotel
  25. Pyongyang Station Department Store
  26. Taesong Department Store
  27. Pyongyang Department Store No. 2
  28. Pyongyang Department Store No. 1
  29. Pyongyang Children’s Department Store
  30. Haebangsan Hotel
  31. Sosan Hotel
  32. Okryu Restaurant
  33. Yanggakdo Hotel
  34. Pyongyang Marine Products Department Store

Places of Natural Beauty and Historic Interest

  1. Ryongwang Pavilion
  2. Potong Gate
  3. Pubyok Pavilion
  4. Sungryong Hall
  5. Chongryu Pavilion
  6. Chilsong Gate
  7. Choesung Pavilion
  8. Hyonmu Gate
  9. Ulmil Pavilion
  10. Taedong Gate


  1. Potonggang Station
  2. West Pyongyang Station
  3. Taedonggang Station
  4. Pyongyang Station

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