Map from Google - North_Korea
In North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) the climate is continental
, with freezing but sunny winters, and hot, rainy summers.
The country is affected by monsoon
circulation: during winter the cold northwest winds of Siberian origin prevail, while in summer they are replaced by the southern currents of tropical origin.
That is why North Korea has a precipitation regime
opposite to that of the Mediterranean: the driest months are those of winter, while the highest rainfall is recorded in July and August. The rains linked to the summer monsoon can sometimes be very abundant and cause flooding (as happened for example in August 2007).
In the latter part of summer and early autumn, the country can be reached by typhoons
The capital Pyongyang
is located on the western side, about forty kilometres (25 miles) away from the Yellow Sea coast. In winter, during cold spells, the temperature can drop below -20 °C (-4 °F); in January 2001 it dropped to -26.5 °C (-15.5 °F). Summer is sultry, with peaks of 34/35 °C (93/95 °F). Here are the average temperatures.
Average temperatures - Pyongyang
In Pyongyang, precipitation averages 940 millimetres (37 inches) per year, therefore it is not scarce, although it is concentrated from May to September. In winter it is scarce, and given the temperatures, it occurs in the form of snow.
Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Pyongyang
Along the coast
the weather is a bit milder, besides at a given latitude the east coast, on the Sea of Japan, is milder than the western coast. Here are the average temperatures of Wonsan
, located on the east coast, at the same latitude as Pyongyang.
Average temperatures - Wonsan
In Wonsan, 1,250 mm (50 in) of rain per year fall; in particular the month of September is still very rainy.
Average precipitation - Wonsan
To the southeast of Wonsan, the winter weather gets even warmer: in Kosong, at the foot of Mount Kumgang (see below), the average of January goes up even to °C (32 °F).
In the north-eastern coast, near the border with Russia, the weather gets cooler, both for the higher latitude, and for the presence of a cold sea current (the Liman current). Here are the average temperatures of Sonbong
, located on the coast, near the border with Siberia, and 150 km (90 mi) from Vladivostok. As you can see, here spring is very cool, if not cold, and summer is not particularly warm.
Average temperatures - Sonbong
In the interior of North Korea there are mountainous areas
, where the climate gets colder, and during winter the temperature can go down in the worst moments to -40 °C (-40 °F). The higher ranges are found in the northeast, and are the Rangrim mountains
, whose highest peak is Wagalbong, 2,260 metres (7,415 ft) high, and the Hamgyong Mountains
, which include several peaks over 2,000 metres (6,500 feet); the highest is Mount Kwanmo (2,540 metres or 8,333 feet).
The highest peak of the country, and the sacred mountain for the Korean people, however, is Mount Paektu
, also known as Baekdu or Baitou, located in the northeast, on the border with China, and 2,744 metres (9,003 ft) high. It is a volcano, whose center is occupied by a caldera lake, called "Heaven Lake", which was formed after the big eruption of 946 AD. Snow may cover the top until June.
Here are the average temperatures of Samjiyon, situated at 1,350 metres (4,400 feet), at the foot of Mount Paektu.
Average temperatures - Samjiyon
Another famous mountain is Mount Kumgang
, 1,638 metres (5,374 ft) high, located in the south-east, a short distance from the border with South Korea, in the area having a milder climate, and where access is allowed to tourists from South Korea. There is a characteristic landscape with its rock formations; in winter you can find waterfalls frozen.
in North Korea, very cold in winter, becomes warm enough for swimming in the summer, especially in August, at least on the west side (Yellow Sea). Here the temperature of the sea at Nampo.
Sea temperature - Nampo
On the east coast (Sea of Japan), the sea temperature in summer is 1/2 degrees Celsius lower, and reaches 23 °C (73 °F) in August; in the northeast it becomes even cooler, reaching a maximum of 21 °C (70 °F) in August.
The amount of sunshine
in North Korea is never scarce, indeed it is decent or good in winter, and also in spring and autumn, when there are several sunny days, while in summer it decreases a bit, because of the summer monsoon, which brings bad weather periods.
As mentioned, during the summer, especially in August, but sometimes also in July or September, the DPRK can be reached by typhoons
, East Asia tropical cyclones, although with effects usually less intense than in South Korea.
When to go
Considering the winter cold as well as the heat and the rains of summer, the best times to visit North Korea ar spring and autumn
, in particular the months of May and October, though in October it may already get cold in the northern mountainous and inland areas (where June and September are preferable).
What to pack
: very warm clothes, down jacket, gloves, scarf, hat. Especially for inland and mountainous areas, clothing for extreme cold, thermal underwear, parka, jacket in Gore-Tex, gloves, hat, scarf.
: light clothing, light raincoat or umbrella, scarf for the wind. In the hills and the northeast, light jacket and sweatshirt for the evening; for high mountains, jacket and sweater.