Gangwon-do is a province of South Korea, with its capital at Chuncheon. Before the division of Korea in 1945, Gangwon and its North Korean neighbour Kangwŏn formed a single province.
Gangwon-do was one of the Eight Provinces of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. The province was formed in 1395, and derived its name from the names of the principal cities of Gangneung (강릉; 江陵) and the provincial capital Wonju (원주; 原州).
In 1895, Gangwon-do was replaced by the Districts of Chuncheon (Chuncheon-bu; 춘천부; 春川府) in the west and Gangneung (Gangneung-bu; 강릉부; 江陵府) in the east. (Wonju became part of Chungju District.)
In 1896, Korea was redivided into thirteen provinces, and the two districts were merged to re-form Gangwon-do Province. Although Wonju rejoined Gangwon-do province, the provincial capital was moved to Chuncheon, where it remains today.
In 1945, Gangwon-do (along with the rest of Korea) was divided by the 38th parallel north in 1945 into American and Soviet zones of occupation in the south and north respectively, which led to Wonsan joining the province's northern half in 1946 to serve as its administrative center. In 1948, the southern half of the province became part of the new Republic of Korea. As a result of the Korean War ceasefire of 1953, the boundary between the South and North Korean portions of the province was shifted northward to the Military Demarcation Line. The province's boundaries have remained the same since 1953.
Gangwon-do is bounded on the west by Gyeonggi-do province, on the south by the provinces of Chungcheongbuk-do and Gyeongsangbuk-do, and on the east by the Sea of Japan (East Sea). To the north lies the province's North Korean counterpart, Kangwŏn province. The province's landscape is dominated by the Taebaek Mountains (Taebaek Sanmaek) which almost reach the sea. As a consequence the coast is steep.
The area of Gangwon-do is 16,894 km2, of which four fifths are woodland. Edible alpine plants and mushrooms are harvested in these forests. The province is renowned for its agricultural produce, in particular potatoes and fish (cuttlefish and pollock). Mineral resources of the province include iron, coal, fluorite, limestone and tungsten. There are hydroelectric and thermoelectric power plants.
Cities and parks
The main cities in the province are Chuncheon (the provincial capital), Gangneung, Sokcho, Wonju, and Donghae. Seoraksan (mountain; 1,708 m) and Odaesan (1,563 m) with its ski run, attract a large number of national tourists. Both are located in national parks in the Taebaek Mountains.
Gangwon-do and its North Korean counterpart Kangwŏn are together referred to as the Gwandong region. The region west of the Taebaek Mountains is called Yeongseo, while the region east of the mountains is called Yeongdong. The term "Yeongdong" is frequently used in reference to transportation services from Seoul, the national capital. Thus, one might catch a bus or train on the "Yeongdong Line," or drive to Gangneung on the Yeongdong Expressway.
Gangwon-do is divided into 7 cities ("Si" or "Shi") and 11 counties ("Gun"). The names below are given in English, Hangul, and Hanja.
- Cheorwon-gun (철원군, 鐵原郡)
- Goseong-gun (고성군, 高城郡)
- Hoengseong-gun (횡성군, 橫城郡)
- Hongcheon-gun (홍천군, 洪川郡)
- Hwacheon-gun (화천군, 華川郡)
- Inje-gun (인제군, 麟蹄郡)
- Jeongseon-gun (정선군, 旌善郡)
- Pyeongchang-gun (평창군, 平昌郡)
- Yanggu-gun (양구군, 楊口郡)
- Yangyang-gun (양양군, 襄陽郡)
- Yeongwol-gun (영월군, 寧越郡)