Climate of North Korea

Climate of North Korea

Where is the country of North Korea located? The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more commonly known as North Korea, occupies the northern part of the Korean peninsula. North Korea has a predominantly mountainous landscape (about eighty percent consists of mountainous land). The west and southwest are mainly flat or have only limited height differences. The climate of North Korea largely consists of a continental climate or continental climate (types Dwa and Dfb according to the Köppen climate system). Along the northwest coast you will find a small area with a warm China climate (type Cwa).

Severe winters

North Korea has severe winters, with temperatures along the west coast dropping to around freezing during the day and between minus eight and minus fourteen degrees during the night. It can get much colder inland and especially in the northeast corner of North Korea it can get bitterly cold. The cold winters are caused by very cool Siberian air coming in from the north or northwest. This is often accompanied by strong winds, which means that the perceived temperature can be considerably lower than the actual temperature. The winter weather in North Korea often means that it is clear. The number of snow days is an average of 37 per year, with differences per region. The snow cover itself generally doesn’t cause so many problems in North Korea, it is mainly the regularly occurring snow storms that can cause appalling conditions. Winter starts at the end of November and lasts until March. The weather has a fairly fickle character in these months, which means that periods of calm winter weather with light frost can alternate with freezing cold and strong wind.

Wet and warm summers

Typical for a continental climate is that the cold to sometimes downright harsh winters alternate with warm to sometimes hot summers. Along the west coast, afternoon temperatures in the months of June, July and August rise to 26 to 30 degrees Celsius on average. Summer can be divided into two periods. The first is Jangma, a monsoon period that begins in late June and lasts an average of 30 to 40 days. Jangma literally means “the rainy season”. In some places almost half of the annual amount of precipitation falls during this period. After a few weeks in which the precipitation amounts are somewhat lower and the rain showers last shorter, there will be a short monsoon period at the beginning of September as a result of the lowering of the monsoon zone from the north to the south. From the second half of September it will quickly become drier.

Pleasant in-between seasons

The transition from winter to summer and vice versa takes place within a period of eight to ten weeks. Autumn and spring are therefore shorter than summer and winter. In both transition seasons there are mainly pleasant temperatures, sufficient sun and reasonably low amounts of precipitation. In the northeast, the transition from summer to winter takes a little shorter, on average about seven weeks. Spring also starts a little later here, just like summer. Summer doesn’t start until July in the northeast. Those traveling to North Korea will find that the transitional seasons are by far the most pleasant periods to undertake the trip. The winters are too harsh and cold, the summers too damp and damp.


North Korea is located in the extreme northwest of the area where hurricanes that form over the Pacific Ocean (here called typhoons) can occur. During the hurricane season, which runs from June to December, North Korea also stands a chance of being hit or affected by a typhoon that sweeps over neighboring South Korea. If North Korea itself is hit by a typhoon, it is almost always the southwest, where the hurricane reaches North Korea. The entire southern region is at risk of being affected by typhoons reaching the Korean peninsula via South Korea.

Climate figures

The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).

Maximum temperature Minimum temperature Hours of sunshine per day Days of rainfall per month
January -3℃ -13℃ 6 6
February 0℃ -10℃ 7 5
March 7℃ -3℃ 7 6
April 16℃ 4℃ 8 9
May 22℃ 10℃ 8 9
June 27℃ 16℃ 8 12
July 29℃ 21℃ 6 17
August 29℃ 21℃ 7 15
September 25℃ 14℃ 7 9
October 18℃ 6℃ 7 8
November 9℃ -1℃ 6 8
December 0℃ -9℃ 5 6

Best time to visit North Korea

Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to North Korea? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, is a country located in eastern Asia. It shares the Korean Peninsula with South Korea. Despite the fact that North Korea is located on two seas, there are continental climate types (the D-climates within the Köppen-Geiger climate classification). The country has a great contrast between winter and summer. During the winter it is cool to very cold, while the summer months can get quite warm.

Best months

Because of the cold winters and wet warm summers, it is best to travel to North Korea in the spring or autumn. The best time to travel to North Korea is May and October. If you are going to visit the mountainous interior (also), then June and September may be better months, because of the cold that can be present in the mountains in May and October. If you limit yourself to coastal areas, April is also a good option. In the capital Pyongyang it is then an average of 14 to 18 degrees during the day and night frost is almost no longer occurring.

Cold winters

North Korea experiences cold winters thanks to the influence of Siberia. During this period the wind blows from the north about half the time, with very cold and dry air coming in from Siberia. Periods of serious cold alternate with periods when it is less cool, but there is snow. In Pyongyang, the maximum temperature in winter is around freezing and at night it freezes moderately and sometimes severely. It gets much colder in the mountain areas. Temperatures can drop to minus 40 degrees there. In Samjiyon, located at an altitude of 1,350 meters, the maximum temperatures in the period December to February are around -10 degrees and the minimums are below the temperature of an average freezer: -20 to -25 is normal. Because of the cold winters and the presence of mountains, you can enjoy winter sports in North Korea. Because it is freezing cold in the middle of winter, the month of March and possibly April is the best time to travel for a ski holiday in North Korea.

Rain in the summer

The weather in summer is influenced by the monsoon, which carries tropical air from the south into North Korea. This air is warm and very humid. After a dry winter and a relatively dry spring, the wet monsoon period starts at the end of May or the beginning of June. Temperatures rise to tropical levels during the day and the chance of rain increases enormously. To be honest, the number of rainy days is not too bad in the wettest months, but there is quite a lot of precipitation on days when it rains. July is the wettest month with an average of 250 to 300 millimeters per month along the coast, followed by August. The combination of heat (an average of 26 to 30 degrees on the coast) and humidity ensures that it can feel quite stuffy in North Korea in the middle of summer.


North Korea is located in the region where tropical cyclones can occur. The chance that you will encounter a hurricane during your visit to North Korea is less likely than you would initially think. Because although there is a chance that such a heavy tropical storm will move towards North Korea from mid-June to October, in practice this happens once every few years.

North Korea