Yellow Sea

The Yellow Sea is a marginal sea of the Western Pacific Ocean, located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. It is situated to the north of the East China Sea and covers an area of approximately 146,700 square miles. In 2018, the Yellow Sea was designated as a “peace zone” between South Korea and North Korea.

Physiography and Geology:

The Yellow Sea, including the Bo Hai and Korea Bay, is a flat, shallow, and partly enclosed marine embayment. Most of the sea consists of an oval-shaped basin with depths of about 200 to 260 feet. The floor of the sea is a unique shallow portion of the continental shelf that was submerged after the last ice age. The Yellow Sea is named after the color of the silt-laden water from the major Chinese rivers that empty into it, including the Huang He and the Yangtze River.


The climate in the Yellow Sea is characterized by cold, dry winters and warm, wet summers. A strong northerly monsoon prevails from November to March, and typhoons occur in summer. Air temperatures range from 50 to 82 F and precipitation ranges from 20 inches in the north to 40 inches in the south. Sea fog is frequent along the coasts, especially in the upwelling cold-water areas.


The warm current of the Yellow Sea is a part of the Tsushima Current, which flows northward into the middle of the sea. The tidal range is high along the west coast of the Korean peninsula and lower along the coasts of China. In the Yellow Sea, the tides rise twice daily and rotate in a counterclockwise direction. The innermost coastal sections of the Bo Hai freeze in winter, and surface temperature ranges from freezing level in winter to 72 to 82 F in the summer.

Joint Air Exercise:

Recently, the militaries of South Korea and the United States conducted a joint air exercise over the Yellow Sea, marking the first joint drill between the two countries in 2023. The joint training was increased after defence chiefs of the two countries decided to address persistent threats from North Korea.


The Yellow Sea is a unique marginal sea between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its physiography and geology, climate, and hydrology make it a unique and important body of water. The recent joint air exercise between South Korea and the United States highlights its strategic significance.

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