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Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:45 AM

Profile of Kangwon Province

Kangwon province (강원도), located on the eastern coast of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has been a region that is historically famous for its scenic natural environment. With a population of around 1.5 million people and a land area of 11,100km2, it is the third-smallest province among the 9 provinces of the DPRK. (excluding the provincial-level cities of Pyongyang and Rason) The province is subdivided into 2 cities and 15 counties.

Kangwon province is largely mountainous, with 80% of its land area being mountainous and only 10% arable. Traditionally, Kangwon has been a major agricultural and industrial region, including fishing, growing fruits such as persimmons, and heavy industries such as mining and shipbuilding. In recent years, the region has focused on developing its tourism industry, particularly a tourism resort around its major coastal city Wonsan and the Mount Kumgang Tourist Region. ​

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:40 AM

Why is it important to look at Kangwon Province?

​In recent years, tourism has been a key area of development for the Kangwon province. Kangwon has a wealth of natural resources and historical sites which makes it an attractive region for tourists. Since 2014, much of the region’s focus has been centred on the development of ‘Wonsan Tourism Zone’, in particular a tourism resort along the Kalma Peninsula. The high-profile project has been touted as the catalyst for economic development along North Korea’s east coast. Several inter-Korea projects, including railway networks have been planned to tap on the region’s potential.

Additionally, DPRK leader Kim Jong-un sees Kangwon province as a priority region for development. Apart from the tourism sector, the DPRK government claims to be focusing on manufacturing and food industries as areas of growth. It has also invested resources to bolster its aging infrastructure.​

However, efforts to develop Kangwon’s tourism potential might be hindered by the lack of basic infrastructure including power, transportation and communications, and the disparity in development between inland and coastal regions of Kangwon.

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:40 AM

What has Choson Exchange done in Kangwon Province?

​Choson Exchange, a Singapore based non-profit group, has conducted several training programs in Wonsan and led study visits to help Wonsan policy makers and business leaders to help them leverage the potential of Kangwon’s growth.

2013 - 2015
Conducted training programs in Wonsan

Brought Wonsan Tourism Zone policy makers to Singapore and Vietnam for study trip

Workshops and study trips contributed to Wonsan SEZ taxation laws for foreign ownership of land

Revisited Kangwon province with partners

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:42 AM

How can we harness the development potential of (Northern) Kangwon Province?

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:21 AM

A research and development roadmap for Kangwon province led by Choson Exchange.

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:21 AM


Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:38 AM

Kangwon Key Industries

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:53 AM

Key Industries

Understanding Kangwon Province’s economic potential and challenges cannot be done without having a comprehensive grasp of the different industries that exist in the region. Explore Kangwon Province’s 4 different industries – Tourism, Energy, Manufacturing, and Basic Infrastructure – through our interactive maps where we identify more than 150 facilities in the region.

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:46 AM

Tourism Industry Comparison

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:07 AM

Comparisons Between Pyonggang and Kangwon

In order to better assess the future needs of Kangwon Province in its industrial capacity, we can compare the province to the city of Pyongyang, where many of North Korea’s 200,000 tourists visit every year. If North Korea aims to host 1 million tourists via the Wonsan-Kalma International Airport by 2025, Kangwon Province must build up its tourist, manufacturing, energy, and infrastructural facilities to be on par with Pyongyang’s.

While Pyongyang easily exceeds Kangwon in the number of manufacturing sites, we still see an impressive spread of manufacturing activity in Kangwon. It is also highly likely that a large portion of the manufacturing activities in Kangwon have not been captured in our research.

One of the most notable memories retold by foreign tourists of Pyongyang is the city’s frequent power shortages, which naturally leads us to question if Kangwon can ever meet or exceed Pyongyang’s capacity in energy production. Pyongyang alone has around 20 power plants that serve the city while only 10 plants are known to currently exist in the eastern coast of Kangwon.

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:09 AM


Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:13 AM


Need for Basic Infrastructure
​Kangwon has been plagued by several infrastructural issues which impede its growth. Due to the fact that it is away from Pyongyang, much needed energy, infrastructure and resources are often diverted to other major cities across the DPRK, which puts Kangwon at a less advantageous position for development.

Electricity Transmission to Inland Region
There are three power plants in Kangwon province, all of which are hydroelectric plants, near Wonsan, Mount Kumgang and Tongchon. With a total population of 1.5M in Kumgang province, the electricity shortfall is significant​.

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:13 AM

Coast vs Inland

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:28 AM

Coast vs Inland

Inter-Korea Rail Project Context
Despite existing challenges in Kangwon Province, there are several ongoing developmental projects in Kangwon that will be crucial to the region’s development in the next decade. First is the Inter-Korean Railway Project, born out of the 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, which promoted travel between the two Koreas through the connection of the Donghae and Gyeongui Line. The Donghae Line, which sits on the east coast of the peninsula, is a strategic infrastructural development for North Korea, as it can potentially serve as the main pathway for South Korean tourists to not only Mt. Kumkang but also Wonsan. While the Line necessitates several years for it to completely modernize, South Korea has been extremely proactive in its effort in connecting the railway from Kangneung to its most northern city of Jejin near the DMZ.

The most significant feature of the cities in inner Kangwon is its connectivity. The availability of the Kangwon Line allows for transport to major cities like Wonsan and Munchon while the Chyeongnyon Inchon Line offers direct connectivity to the capital, Pyongyang. While these cities do not currently retain sufficient infrastructure for tourists, the potential for the development of inner Kangwon is still worth exploring as South Korea is open to connecting the Kangwon Line with the railroads in the South.

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:31 AM

Economic Roadmap

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:31 AM

Economic Roadmap

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:34 AM

Tourism as the Anchor of Kangwon Province’s Economic Development

The DPRK stands to benefit from developing Kangwon Province into a regional tourism hub, focusing on Wonsan and the Mount Kumgang resort regions.

The economic effect of tourism in the DPRK is significant. In 2018, 200,000 foreign tourists visited DPRK, largely bolstered by Chinese tourists. In 2015, DPRK Leader Kim Jong-un established an ambitious goal of attracting 1 million tourists per year to visit Wonsan. While Kangwon needs significant resources and development to achieve this goal, there are opportunities to be tapped.

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:37 AM

Roadmap Components

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:44 AM

Roadmap Components

There are six areas which need to be developed to fully support Kangwon’s tourism growth, namely infrastructure, tourism facilities, production, retail, talent grooming and tourism promotion. They could be seen as the building blocks of tourism development.

There are both thematic linkages and inter-linkages between each component. While the development of each area (e.g. infrastructure and retail) could be separate projects or trends, they are mutually reinforcing (e.g. supply chain development), and together benefits the growth of the tourism core.

The goal of the economic roadmap is to identify the linkages between each component and find ways to grow and strengthen these linkages.

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 04:44 AM

How can tourism infrastructure act as an enabler for dialogue and exchanges?

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:16 AM

Summer 2021 design studio at Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:17 AM

Starting 18 May

Calvin Chua — 2021.5.14 03:37 AM
Kangwon Development Initiative

Kangwon Development Initiative

Online, Generative Dialogue

Engaging north korean provinces as a peace-building process


Looking beyond the monumental capital, North Korean provinces have been sites of urban and policy experimentations over the past decade. The North Korean government has been pouring significant state resources into developing its provincial regions through special economic zones. Kangwon province has been the central focus of these efforts, with the development of tourism infrastructure on the Wonsan-Kalma peninsula and a string of cities along the eastern coast.

Building on the region’s development, Choson Exchange has been conducting economic policy and urban development training programmes in Kangwon province since late 2013. Kangwon Development Initiative is the latest project initiated by Choson Exchange, with the aim of developing a five-year engagement and development roadmap for the region. Led by Calvin Chua, together with Alysha Park and Howard Fu, with cartography support from Spatial Anatomy, the project tracks the development of industry and infrastructure challenges facing the region. Informed by the research analysis, an engagement roadmap charts strategies for the region’s development along with platforms for collaboration with international parties as part of a peacebuilding process.

Exhibition program participants

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The Venetian Team — The Venetian Team: Lagoon Dialogues — 21 hours ago

Maestranze dello Spettacolo Veneto during the protest at La Fenice Theatre. June 2021

The Venetian Team — The Venetian Team: Lagoon Dialogues — 21 hours ago

Demonstration in front of La Fenice Theatre in Venice. June 2021

The Venetian Team — The Venetian Team: Lagoon Dialogues — 21 hours ago

Venetian workers from art and cultural sector, protesting during lockdown. May 2020

The Venetian Team — The Venetian Team: Lagoon Dialogues — 21 hours ago

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The Venetian Team — The Venetian Team: Lagoon Dialogues — 21 hours ago

Screenshot from the Dialogues #002 - Lunch at Korean Pavilion

The Venetian Team — The Venetian Team: Lagoon Dialogues — 22 hours ago

New Project from Officina Marghera and Architetture Precarie

The Venetian Team — The Venetian Team: Lagoon Dialogues — Yesterday

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Future School Staff — Futurology of Schools — Yesterday

Exhibition programs

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