Kaesong, which is about 160km south of Pyongyang, is a city with a history of over 1 100 years.
Well over a hundred historical sites have so far been surveyed and registered in the city and those from the period of Koryo Kingdom (918-1392), the first unified state of the Korean nation, take a larger proportion of them. The city had been the capital of Koryo for nearly 500 years.
The area has rather a mild weather. It has favourable conditions for farming and waterborne traffic as there are the vast alluvial plains in the basins of the Ryesong and Rimjin rivers and such large rivers and it is near the West Sea of Korea. Geographically, it is located at an important point of inland traffic leading to the four cardinal directions on the Korean peninsula.
Koryo was remarkably advanced in handicrafts and commerce and Kaesong was a hub of trade in East Asia.
The historical relics preserved in the city provide a window of opportunity for an in-depth study of the ancient civilization of the Korean nation.
There are the mausoleum of King Wang Kon (877-943), the founder king of Koryo, that of King Kyonghyo (1330-1374), the 31st king of Koryo, and Manwoltae, royal palace site of the kingdom.
The walled city of Kaesong is comprised of the palace, keep and outer castle. As the castle to defend the capital, the city walls were erected between 1009 and 1029 and the South Gate was built when the keep was constructed between 1391 and 1393. In the gatehouse of the South Gate there is the famous bell which had hanged at the Yonbok Temple.
The Seven Tombs Cluster at the foot of Mt Mansu are tombs from the Koryo period. The owners of them are known as related to the royal family at the close of the Koryo period in the light of their scale and structure and the relics discovered in them.
Especially in the city there is Songgyungwan in its original state. It was the highest educational institute of the Koryo feudal state and it can be claimed to be one of the oldest universities of the world.
According to historical records, it was built in 992 after the examination system for government service was enforced for the first time in 958. More than 18 400 men passed the examination until 1392 and the majority of them were the graduates of Songgyungwan.
Sungyang Confucian School was built in 1573 at the site of the house of Jong Mong Ju (1337-1392), a high ranking Koryo official and competent military strategist and diplomat.
There are many other historical sites in Kaesong, such as the Kaesong Chomsongdae Observatory, Sonjuk Bridge, Monuments to Fidelity of Jong Mong Ju and Myongrung Cluster. Twelve of them were inscribed in the world cultural heritage list in 2013 as representative heritage elements testifying to the culture and history of Koryo.