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Kaesong or Kaisong (both: kăˈsŭngˈ), Jap. Kaijo, city (1993 pop. 334,433), S North Korea. A long-time commercial center, it is important for its exports of ginseng, a valuable medicinal root. There is also active trade in rice, barley, and wheat. Textiles are made in the city, and there is some heavy industry. A special economic zone where South Korean firms manufacture products for export is there; a highway connects the zone with South Korea. Operations at the facility have been interrupted at times by North-South tensions.
In the 10th cent. Wang Kon, founder of the Koryo dynasty, made Kaesong his capital; the city, then called Songdo, remained Korea's capital until 1392, when the Choson (or Yi) dynasty moved the capital to Seoul. Intersected by the 38th parallel, Kaesong served as the main contact point between North and South Korea from 1945 to 1951 and passed from United Nations to North Korean forces several times during the Korean War. The armistice talks, first held at Kaesong, were later transferred to Panmunjom (Panmunjeom). Historic landmarks include the tombs of several Korean kings, the old city walls, and the remains of a royal palace from the Koryo period.
a city in North Korea, in the southern part of the Korean People’s Democratic Republic (KPDR), near the 38th parallel. Population, 265,000 (1966). Terminus on the Sinuiju-Pyongyang-Seoul-Pusan main railroad line.
Kaesong is an important center for food processing and light industry. It has factories producing textiles, synthetic fibers, rubber footwear, porcelain ware, and other consumer goods. There is a machine-tool plant, a watch factory, and diversified local industry. Kaesong is the center of the main region for cultivating and processing ginseng in the KPDR. The Songdo Institute, a museum, a theater, and a television station are located in the city. During the American aggression against the KPDR (1950–53), Kaesong was the site of negotiations and the signing of a truce agreement.
Kaesong was the ancient capital of the Korean state from the tenth to 14th centuries. In 918 the palace of the Manwoltae rulers was built there (destroyed in 1361); it was surrounded by a fortified wall having 20 gates, including the Gate of Namda-emun (built in 1393, destroyed in 1950–53, and restored in 1955). Other remaining monuments are the pagodas of the Hyonhwa-sa temple (1018) and the Kaengjaeng-sa temple (1348) and a country estate (second half of the 16th century).