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Which Countries Border Korea?


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Reta Deason



Welcome to this comprehensive guide on the countries that border Korea. Located in East Asia, Korea is a peninsula that is divided into two separate countries – North Korea and South Korea. While North Korea is bordered by China and Russia, South Korea shares its borders with North Korea only. The geopolitical situation of the Korean Peninsula has had a significant impact on the history and development of both North and South Korea.


The Korean Peninsula has been a region of strategic importance for centuries, with neighboring countries having a significant influence on its culture, politics, and economy. The borders that Korea shares with its neighboring countries have played a crucial role in shaping its current geopolitical landscape.


In this guide, we will explore the countries that border Korea in detail. We will delve into the historical and cultural significance of these borders, their impact on trade and diplomatic relations, as well as the unique characteristics and attractions of each border region. Whether you are a traveler planning to visit Korea or simply interested in expanding your knowledge, this guide will provide valuable insights into the diverse and complex relations between Korea and its neighbors.


So, let’s embark on a journey through the fascinating borderlands of Korea and discover the countries that have shaped its past and continue to influence its present.


North Korea’s Border Countries

North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), shares its borders with two countries – China and Russia. These borders have played a crucial role in the political, economic, and cultural dynamics of North Korea.


The border between North Korea and China is the longest, stretching approximately 1,415 kilometers (879 miles). It is primarily defined by the Yalu River in the southwest and the Tumen River in the northeast. This border has historically been an important trade route between the two countries. It has also served as a crucial lifeline for North Korea, providing access to goods, resources, and humanitarian aid. The major border crossing points include Dandong, Hunchun, and Linjiang, facilitating trade and travel between the two nations.


China’s influence on North Korea is significant, and the border region showcases a mix of cultures and influences. It serves as a gateway for Chinese tourists visiting North Korea and a channel for economic cooperation and development. The border region is also important for the transportation of goods through railways, with several rail connections linking the two countries.


The northern border of North Korea is shared with Russia. With a length of approximately 17 kilometers (10.6 miles), this border is defined by the Tumen River. Similar to the border with China, it has historical significance and has been a crucial trade route. It also serves as a gateway for North Korean laborers working in Russia and for Russian tourists visiting North Korea. The Rajin-Sonbong special economic zone, located near the Russia-North Korea border, showcases economic cooperation and development between the two nations.


The borders with China and Russia have had a significant impact on the political relations of North Korea. They provide opportunities for trade, diplomatic negotiations, and regional cooperation. At the same time, they also pose challenges, as they are closely monitored and have restrictions on the movement of people and goods.


Exploring the border regions of North Korea can offer a unique insight into its diplomatic relations, economic ties, and cultural exchange with its neighboring countries. From bustling trade towns to scenic border landscapes, each border crossing point presents its own story and adds to the rich tapestry of North Korean history and identity.


South Korea’s Border Countries

South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea (ROK), shares its only land border with North Korea, which stretches approximately 238 kilometers (148 miles) from the West Sea to the East Sea. The border, often referred to as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world and has a significant historical and political importance.


The Korean DMZ serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea, established as part of the armistice agreement that put an end to the Korean War in 1953. It is a unique and intriguing destination for visitors, offering a glimpse into the divided history of Korea. The DMZ is home to various landmarks, including the Joint Security Area (JSA), where official meetings and negotiations between North and South Korean officials take place. Visitors can explore sites such as the Dora Observatory, the Third Tunnel of Aggression, and the Imjingak Peace Park, gaining insights into the Korean War and the ongoing efforts for peace and reunification.


Beyond the DMZ, South Korea has a vast coastline with the West Sea and the East Sea, which provide additional natural borders. These coasts offer breathtaking views of rugged cliffs, serene beaches, and picturesque islands. Coastal regions such as Incheon, Busan, and Gangneung are popular destinations for both domestic and international tourists, attracting visitors with their stunning landscapes, seafood delicacies, and water activities.


In addition to its land and sea borders, South Korea’s connectivity with the rest of the world is greatly facilitated by extensive air links. Incheon International Airport, located west of Seoul, is one of the busiest airports in the world and serves as a major transportation hub not only for South Korea but also for the entire East Asian region.


The border between North and South Korea is not just a physical barrier, but it also represents the stark contrast between two political systems, ideologies, and ways of life. South Korea has embraced modernization and economic development, emerging as one of the leading economies in the world. The border serves as a constant reminder of the ongoing challenges and aspirations for reunification, while also defining the unique identity and resilience of South Korea.


Visiting the border region of South Korea allows travelers to witness the history, tension, and hope that surround the Korean Peninsula. Whether exploring the DMZ or enjoying the beautiful coastal areas, each destination presents a different facet of South Korea’s complex relationship with its northern neighbor and the world.



The borders of Korea, both in North and South, play a significant role in shaping the history, culture, and political dynamics of the Korean Peninsula. While North Korea shares its borders with China and Russia, South Korea’s only land border is with its northern counterpart.


The borders between Korea and its neighboring countries have influenced trade, diplomatic relations, and cultural exchanges throughout history. China, as North Korea’s largest trading partner, and Russia, as a key ally and neighbor, both have significant impacts on the economic and geopolitical landscape of the region.


The demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea stands as a symbol of the division and the ongoing pursuit of peace and reunification. The DMZ offers a unique opportunity for visitors to witness the tension and history of the Korean Peninsula and serves as a reminder of the challenges and hopes surrounding the region.


South Korea’s coastline, with its scenic beauty and bustling coastal cities, contributes to the country’s attractiveness as a tourist destination. The vast sea borders provide opportunities for maritime trade and offer a gateway for connectivity with the rest of the world.


Visiting the border regions of Korea provides a deeper understanding of the complex relations between the two Koreas and their neighboring countries. It allows travelers to explore the shared heritage, challenges, and aspirations that have shaped the history and identity of the Korean Peninsula.


Whether it’s exploring the vibrant cities along the South Korean coast, immersing in the historical significance of the demilitarized zone, or discovering the cultural exchange between North Korea and its neighboring nations, each border region offers a unique perspective and a wealth of experiences.


As we conclude this guide on the countries that border Korea, we hope that it has provided insights into the geopolitical significance and the captivating aspects of these borderlands. Whether you are planning a visit to Korea or simply interested in expanding your knowledge, understanding the borders and their impact is essential to gaining a comprehensive view of this dynamic region.