Open main menu

The Imjin River (Korean임진강 in South Korea) or Rimjin River (Korean림진강 in North Korea) is the 7th largest river in Korea.[2] It flows from north to south, crossing the Demilitarized Zone and joining the Han River downstream of Seoul, near the Yellow Sea. The river is not the namesake of the Imjin Waeran Japanese invasions of Korea in the late 16th century.

Rimjin (림진강)
Korea-Imjin River-01.jpg
Bridge of Freedom crossing the Rimjin. Located in Munsan, Paju, South Korea.
Native name임진강
CountryNorth Korea (PRK), South Korea (ROK)
ProvincesKangwon (PRK), North Hwanghae (PRK), Gyeonggi (KOR)
Physical characteristics
SourceTuryu Mountain
 ⁃ locationPoptong, Kangwon, North Korea
MouthHan River
 ⁃ location
Paju, Gyeonggi, South Korea
Length273.50 km (169.95 mi)[1]
Basin size8,138.90 km2 (3,142.45 sq mi)[1]
Imjin River
Revised Romanizationrimjingang or imjin-gang
McCune–ReischauerRimjin'gang or imjin'gang


The Rimjin River was the site of two major battles: The Battle of the Imjin River during the Seven-Year War in 1592, and the Battle of the Imjin River that took place during the Korean War.

Joint Utilization ZoneEdit

On November 4, 2018, a 20-member team consisting of 10 people from North Korea and 10 people from South Korea began a joint inter-Korean survey intended to lead to the development a Joint Utilization Zone along the Imjin River's estuary.[3][4] The Zone would allow civilians to access the estuary for tourism, ecological protection and the collection of construction aggregate under the protection of militaries from both sides of the Korean border.[3][4] On November 5, 2018, the councils of South Korea's Gangwon and Gyeonggi provinces, which border the DMZ, signed a “peace working agreement” at Dorasan Station in Paju, giving local approval to the Joint Utilization Zone.[5] The inter-Korean survey of the Imjin River's estuary was completed on December 9, 2018.[6] The new map of the river's estuary, which consists of newly discovered reefs, was to be made public by January 25, 2019.[6]


Ferry across the Imjin River in 1889

The active channel of the Rimjin River utilizes only about 150 to 200 feet of the 1,200-foot (370 m) width of the dry riverbed that it runs through, which is bordered by almost vertical rock cliffs standing approximately 75 feet (23 m) above the mean low water level. It gives no indication in normal times of the tremendous power it develops when in flood. During the Korean rainy season of July and August, the Imjin becomes a raging torrent, largely confined by its steep rocky banks. Fed by its larger tributaries and many small mountain streams, it reaches flood heights of 48 feet (15 m) above mean water level and a velocity of 15 to 20 feet per second (6 m/s). The rapid runoff of approximately 95 percent of precipitation during heavy general rains has caused the Imjin, on occasion, to rise at a rate of more than six feet per hour.

During the severe Korean winter, icy winds sweep down the Imjin; the sub-zero temperatures cause thick ice to form on the river. Fluctuations in the level of the river, particularly tidal action in the lower reaches, break up this ice, and large amounts of floe ice pile up against any obstacle in the channel.

The Imjin has been nicknamed by many in South Korea as the "River of the Dead" due to large numbers of dead bodies that have, in the past, floated down it from the North. The most recent occurrence was during the major famine of the 1990s when millions of North Koreans are believed to have starved to death.

In popular cultureEdit

In the popular novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, the American 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital ("MASH") unit is located close to a branch of the Rimjin River.[7]

The Rimjin River is the subject of a famous North Korean popular song, "Rimjingang", named after the river. It was composed in 1957 with lyrics written by North Korean poet Pak Se-yong. It is a well-known forbidden song in North Korea, as it refers to the Rimjin River as a symbol of freedom flowing from north to south. This song depicts the sadness of a divided homeland and alludes to the infamous history of the river. The song (as "Imujingawa") later became popular in Japan when it was covered by The Folk Crusaders and other artists.[8][9] It remains popular among Korean communities worldwide, as a song of hope that the Korean people will once again be united and free.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b 2013년 한국하천일람 [List of Rivers of South Korea, 2013] (PDF) (in Korean). Han River Flood Control Office, Republic of Korea. 31 December 2012. pp. 112–113. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  2. ^ Seven Famous Spots, Yeoncheon County.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ Hooker, Richard. MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors (M*A*S*H) (First ed.). UK: Hatchett Books. p. 9. ISBN 1780228880.
  8. ^ A song to Imjin River, 7 June 2012
  9. ^ Imjin River: River where tears of the Koreans flow, 11 March 2014

External linksEdit