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What is the dam on the North Korean Emblem?

The dam on the North Korean Emblem

If you’re a geek like us that LOVES national emblems then you will probably like the North Korean state emblem. One unique part of the emblem is that it features a dam! But what is the dam on the North Korean emblem?

We are happy to help!

The Sup’ung Dam, also known as the Shuifeng Dam and previously the Sui-ho Dam (its Chinese and Japanese names, respectively, in characters 水丰水库 ), is a gravity dam on the Yalu River between Kuandian Manchu Autonomous County, Liaoning Province in China and Sakju County, North Pyongan Province of North Korea. As such it can be seen on one of our borderlands tours of North Korea. As can the Yalu River, which you can read more about here.

History of the Sup’ung Dam

The Sup'ung Dam, which is part of the emblem of North Korea
The Sup’ung dam, as seen from the other side of the Yalu River.

It was originally built the Japanese Imperialist government between 1937 and 1943 to create electricity, but it was not to be plain sailing after that! During the Korean Civil War, it was bombed by the Americans and destroyed.

In 1955, the Soviets began helping repair the barrage, which became operational in 1958. In 1983, it was the turn of the Chinese to do a bit of renovation work and it is an important source of electricity for North Korea.

Interestingly, it is possible to see a relic of the barrage in the 3 Revolutions exhibition, as well as of the Ryugyong Hotel, although that is a whole other matter…

Why is the Sup’ung Dam on the North Korean state emblem?

Good question! In some respects, it is s strange choice due to its link to the former colonial rule, but it should be seen in a wider context. Having industrial features on communist emblems is nothing new, many socialist states like the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic had some. At the time of the formation of the emblem, North Korea produced most of its own energy, so the dam represents self-sufficiency.

And that is the story of the hydro-electrical barrage on the state emblem of North Korea! Strange but indeed true.

If you’d like to see more than just the emblem join our borderlands tour, or better still visit North Korea.

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