Chongjin City is the capital city of North Hamgyong-do, located in the northeastern part of North Korea, and a port industrial city.
Chongjin Port has long been known as an antifreeze port and is one of the largest cities in the Republic. Although Kiyotsu is the center of the industrial area, it was developed as an agricultural export port in the Japanese Empire era. The Japanese imperialists who made Japan a colony carried large quantities of fish oil, beans, wood, marine products, etc. from this port to fish oil. (Kim Won-jo, “Republic of the frozen land”)
Chongjin became an important city during the Japanese colonial era.
Until the turn of the century, along the Tuman River, bordering China and Russia, this remote northern tip of Korea had little inhabitants and had no economic significance. Over the past centuries, there have probably been more tigers than humans, and more beasts in children’s folk tales still shaking children. But now there is no such animal anymore. Everything has changed since the Japanese set their sights on building an empire. Hamgyongbuk-do was on the path of Japan’s invasion of Manchuria, and Manchuria was occupied by Japan before World War II. The Japanese spotted the almost undeveloped coal seam and iron ore deposits in Musan, but needed to load mined loot from its controlled peninsula to Japan. Although Chongjin was a small fishing village, it was transformed into a port capable of handling 30,000 tons of cargo annually. During colonial rule (190-45), the Japanese built a huge steelworks at Chongjin Port, with a basement-shaped street and modern buildings on a slightly southern land. The headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Army’s 19th Division, which developed the planned city of Ranan and supported the invasion of northeast China, was located there. Further down the coast, they built a new blank town from Ham Xing to become the home of a huge chemical plant, producing everything from gunpowder to chemical fertilizer. (Barbara Demick, North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea)
Chongjin is still an important city in North Korea.
Chongjin, also known as the “Steel Town”, has grown in economic and strategic importance with steel production. The factory produced watches, televisions, synthetic fibers, medical supplies, machine tools, tractors, plows, steel plates, and military supplies. Crabs, squids and other seafood have been landed for export. The port became a shipyard. From north to south on the shoreline, North Koreans took over Japanese military facilities and built missile bases there aimed at Japan. Nevertheless, the surrounding towns and villages remained a dumping mountain for the exiled. Members of the hostile and upset classes, such as Milan’s father, settled in the mining town.
But cities of this importance cannot be left to the hands of untrustworthy people. The regime felt the need to have loyal executives at the core and monitor Chongjin to stay within its party policy.
Thus, the elite of the ruling class also resides in Chongjin. They lived not far from the exiles (though not necessarily next door). The interpersonal relationship of the two extremes of North Korean society will give Chongjin a unique vibrancy. (Demick, op.cit.)
It was also the first city in North Korea to suffer damage when a famine occurred in the mid-nineties.
It was the third largest city in North Korea and the worst affected by a famine in the mid-1990s. (Demick, op.cit.)
Chongjin belongs to North Hamgyongbuk-do. It was an area that suffered from food shortage before southern areas such as the Pyongannam-do. He travels from a food-free industrial zone to a cereal-rich rural area, where he exchanges food with industrial products that are sold at abandoned prices and food that is more than twice as expensive. This method began with the northern people. (Antetsu Brothers, “North Korea Seen by a Secret Camera”)