The construction of a socialist city by East German engineers in the late 1950s

Post-war Reconstruction of Hamhung


  • Hideo Tomita Kyushu Sangyo University



In the late 1950s, hundreds of East German engineers moved to the North Korean city of Hamhung to help with urban reconstruction after the Korean War; they were known as the ‘German Work Team Hamhung’. However, research on cross-border propagation of city planning for mass demonstrations appears to be non-existent. Therefore, this study investigates the square and street network designed for mass demonstrations in Hamhung and evaluates it from a socialist city planning history perspective. The research findings revealed the following: The reconstruction plan of Hamhung as a socialist city in the latter half of the 1950s had characteristics similar to the socialist cities of the Soviet Union (early 1930s) and East Germany (early 1950s). German architects contributed transnationally to the construction of socialist cities. In particular, in the case of Hamhung, the presence of Konrad Püschel was substantive. As mentioned above, although the East German engineers followed the concept and methodology in the aforementioned socialist states, they adapted them to the local circumstances that were ascertained by detailed preliminary survey work. Their activities represent the unconsidered aspect of the global/worldwide spread of the concept and methodology of socialist city planning.