Lighthouses of Western North Korea

For most of its history, Korea was an independent kingdom, or at least an autonomous kingdom under Chinese influence. In 1910, Japan annexed all of Korea. At the end of World War II in 1945, the 38° parallel was established as the dividing line between U.S. and Soviet zones of occupation, and in 1948 separate civil administrations were established in the two halves of the country. The Korean War (1950-53) ended in a draw, with the armistice line falling close to the prewar 38° line. The northern half of Korea became the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a reclusive Communist state that bars all but a few carefully selected foreigners.

As a result of this history and the current political situation, there is very little information available on the lighthouses of North Korea. Fortunately, lighthouses have been a favorite subject for DPRK postage stamps, and these stamps provide images of some of the lighthouses.

North Korea has two coastlines; the east coast faces the East Sea (Sea of Japan) and the west coast faces the West Sea (Yellow Sea) and Korea Bay. This page covers lighthouses of the west coast, and there is a separate page for the lighthouses of the east coast. In Korean, the word for a lighthouse is donghae (등대); dan is a cape and do is an island.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume M of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
World of Lighthouses - North Korea
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Region 9 NGA Nautical Charts
Charts 95040, 95041, 95042, and 95043 covers this area.
Leuchttürme auf Briefmarken
Postage stamp images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Leuchttürme Japans und Koreas auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images, also posted by Klaus Huelse.

Nampho Dam Light
Nampho Dam (P'i Do) Light, Nampho, September 2009
photo copyright Ray Cunningham; used by permission

South Hwanghae Province Lighthouses
Monggumpo
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 43 m (141 ft); two white flashes every 30 s. Approx. 13 m (43 ft) tower with lantern and gallery, probably painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on an island marking the entrance to an estuary forming the harbor of Monggumpo in Ryongyeon County, near the southwestern corner of North Korea. Site and tower closed. NGA 18105.
Oryugi (Oryuji Gi)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown (perhaps about 30 m (98 ft)); white flash every 15 s. No description and no photo available. Bing's indistinct satellite view suggests a lantern atop a building of some kind. Located on a prominent cape in Jangyeon County. Site and tower closed. NGA 18106.
Sodo (So Do, Ch'o Do)
1908. Active; focal plane 94 m (308 ft); white flash every 20 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. Google has a distant satellite view. The lighthouse marks the southern entrance to Taedong Gang (bay). Located on an islet off the west end of Cho Do, about 30 km (19 mi) southwest of the river entrance. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-005; Admiralty M4116; NGA 18112.
Songmun Am
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 9 m (30 ft); light characteristic unknown. No description available, but the tower is visible in Google's distant satellite view. Located on a reef about 1.2 km (3/4 mi) off the southeastern tip of Chodo. Site and tower closed. Admiralty M4117; NGA 18119.
Huibong Gang (Chodo, Cho Do)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 36 m (118 ft); white flash every 3 s. 8.5 m (28 ft) octagonal concrete tower, rising from a 1-story keeper's house. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located at the southeastern tip of Cho Do, marking the strait between the island and the mainland. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-026; NGA 18118.5.
Kuro Iso (Hug Am)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft); white flash every 9 s. No photo available, but Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on the northern tip of an islet off a promontory about 13 km (8 mi) northeast of Chodo. Site and tower closed. Admiralty M4117.5; NGA 18118.
Jamaedo (Chamae Do, Jame Do)
1917. Active; focal plane 43 m (138 ft); white flash every 18 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. A 2009 photo is at right, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on an islet northwest of Sok Do about 16 km (10 mi) west of the Taedong River entrance. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-002(=011); Admiralty M4118; NGA 18116.
Chando (Ch'an Do)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 38 m (125 ft); white flash every 15 s. 5.5 m (18 ft) round white concrete tower. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view of the station. Located on a steep-sided island about 5 km (3 mi) west of P'i Do. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-024; Admiralty M4120; NGA 18124.
Jamae Do Light
Jamaedo (Chamae Do) Light, West Sea, 2009
D.P.R. of Korea government photo
Pido (P'i Do, Phido) (2)
Around 1986 (station established 1905). Active; focal plane 86 m (282 ft); two white flashes every 3 s. 33 m (108 ft) square pyramidal masonry tower with lantern and gallery, centered on a large 1-story masonry administration building. Ray Cunningham's 2009 photo appears at the top of this page, another closeup photo is available, Eric Lafforgue has a 2008 photo, Sergio Canobbio has a 2012 photo, Huelse has a postage stamp image, and Bing has a satellite view. Lighthouse Explorer has an earlier postage stamp image of the original lighthouse. This is North Korea's tallest and most powerful lighthouse. The light marks the actual entrance to the Taedong River and the port of Nampho. Since 1986 the entrance has been closed by the West Sea Barrage (Nampho Dam), a dam about 8 km (5 mi) long; Google has a satellite view of this structure. Ships enter and leave the river through locks at the extreme south end of the barrage, between the island of P'i Do and the south bank. The DPRK government often takes groups of visitors to the dam, making this the only lighthouse in the country regularly seen by foreigners. The lighthouse is built on the highest point of P'i Do. Site open to official tours, tower closed. ARLHS NKR-004; Admiralty M4126; NGA 18132.

South Pyongan Province Lighthouses
Oripori (Orip'o-ri)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 36 m (118 ft); continuous white light. 7 m (23 ft) white concrete tower. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. Located on a promontory on the south side of the Taedong estuary about 5 km (3 mi) southeast of the Pido lighthouse. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-028; Admiralty M4128; NGA 18136.
Pibaldo (Pibal Do, Pibalto, Phibaldo, Nampho, Chinnam-po)
1909 (possibly rebuilt after the Korean War). Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); white flash every 9 s. 11 m (36 ft) multistage tower: a skeletal tower is mounted on a round metal equipment room atop a hexagonal concrete base. Entire lighthouse is white. No photo available, but Huelse has a historic postcard view and Bing has a satellite view. The lighthouse is built on a volcanic rock connected to the mainland by a footbridge. Located in the center of the harbor of Nampho, on the north side of the Taedong River. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-013; Admiralty M4132; NGA 18148.
Chirido (Chiri-Do)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white flash every 12 s. 7.5 m (25 ft) octagonal white concrete tower. No photo available, but Bing has an indistinct satellite view of the station. Located on a small island in Taedong Bay about 4 km (2.5 mi) northwest of P'i Do. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-025; Admiralty M4122; NGA 18128.
Tokdo (Tok To, Toku Somu)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 92 m (302 ft); white flash every 15 s. No description available, and the location of the light is not clear in Google's satellite view of the island. Located on an island about 15 km (9 mi) northwest of P'i Do. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Admiralty M4119; NGA 18120.
Pibaldo Light
Pibaldo Light, Nampho
postage stamp image courtesy of Michel Forand

North Pyongan Province Lighthouses
Napdo (Nap To)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 5 s. No description and no photo available, but Google's distant satellite view probably shows the lighthouse. Napdo is the most remote of North Korea's islands in Korea Bay, located about 60 km (38 mi) offshore, halfway between the Taedong and Yalu River entrances. Site and tower closed. Admiralty M4113; NGA 18152.
Taegamdo
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 12 s. No description and no photo available, and Google has only a distant satellite view of the island. The light marks a gap in a long chain of islands fringing the coast off the entrance to the Chongchon estuary and Anju. Site and tower closed. NGA 18149.
Taehwado (Taehwa Do)
1909. Active; focal plane 95 m (312 ft); white flash every 20 s. 24 m (79 ft) hexagonal cast iron skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and the tower is not conspicuous in Google's satellite view of the station. Taehwado is an island in Korea Bay about 50 km (30 mi) southeast of the Yalu River entrance. The island was the scene of bitter fighting in late 1951, during the Korean War. Located on the south side of the island. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-030; Admiralty M4112; NGA 18156.
Suundo (Suun Do)
1909. Active; focal plane 48 m (157 ft); white flash every 10 s. 8 m (26 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story concrete keeper's house. Entire lighthouse is white. A postage stamp image is at right, a small photo of the lantern is available, and Bing has a satellite view of the station. Suun Do is the westernmost in a chain of half a dozen small islands about 20 km (13 mi) southeast of the Yalu River entrance. Located on the highest point of the island. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-007; Admiralty M4104; NGA 18160.
Undo (Un Do, Yubundo)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); two white flashes every 6 s. 7 m (23 ft) square concrete tower with lantern and gallery and attached to a small equipment building. Entire lighthouse is white. Google has a satellite view, and Huelse has a postage stamp image, identified as Yubundo, that depicts this lighthouse. Located on an islet about 13 km (8 mi) southeast of the Yalu River entrance. Located on the highest point of the island. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-031; Admiralty M4105; NGA 18164.
Munbakdo
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 3 s. No photo available, but Bing's satellite view probably shows the light. Located atop a small but high island in the mouth of the Yalu River. Admiralty M4106; NGA 18166.
Sampo
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 62 m (203 ft); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 10 m (33 ft) hexagonal red brick tower. No photo available. The location of this light is unclear; chart 95041 places it on a high hill about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) east of the river, but Bing's satellite view of that location does not show the tower. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-029; Admiralty M4107; NGA 18168.
Maando (Maan Do)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 72 m (236 ft); white flash every 5 s. 8 m (26 ft) round brick tower, painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located at the southwestern tip of Sin Do, a large island in the mouth of the Yalu River, marking the entrance to the western mouth of the river, opposite the Chinese port of Donggang. Site and tower closed. ARLHS NKR-027; Admiralty M4100; NGA 18176.
Suundo Light
Suundo Light, West Sea
postage stamp image
courtesy of Michel Forand

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: South: Incheon Area | West: Southeastern Liaoning

Return to the Lighthouse Directory index | Ratings key

Posted September 24, 2007. Checked and revised August 29, 2014. Lighthouses: 21. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.