Korea is mountainous with the land standing an average of 442m above sea level. The highlands are 176 404 sq km (78. 7% of the whole territory) and the lowlands are 47 848 sq km (21.3% of the whole territory). Topogrl”!phically, the land is high on the north and the east and gets lower southwards and westwards.
The Great Paektu Mountains stretch from Mt Paektu to Kujae Peak on the south coast constituting spinal mountain ranges and spreading many branches, thereby forming a system of mountain ranges. Janggun Peak (2 750m above sea level) of Mt Paektu is the highest peak in Korea.
Korea abounds in uplands and hollows including the Paektu, Paengmu and Kaema plateaus, the Kanggye and Hoeryong basins and Ryongmun Cavern and Songam Cave.
Valleys are developed along plenty of rivers and streams, and slopes hold a wide area. Pyongyang, Ryongchon, Yoltusamcholli and other plains are mostly found in the lower reaches of long rivers on the west and south coasts and coastal areas.
The coastline is long and very indented.
Korea has diverse landforms such as alpine areas, plateaus, plains, basins, river valleys, coasts, karst and aeolian soil.
Mt Paektu is the highest in Korea, which rises at its northern border with China, specifically in Samjiyon County, Ryanggang Province. The Korean people regard it as the sacred mountain of the revolution and the ancestral mountain of the nation.
A chain of its peaks imposingly soars up in the middle of vast primitive forests.
On the Janggun Peak, the main peak on Mt Paektu, you can see the breathtaking sunrise over Mt Paektu dying red the peaks, valleys and Lake Chon.
Lake Chon on the mountaintop mirroring the peaks of Mt Paektu like Janggun, Hyangdo, Paegun and Chail is a wonder to behold.
One of the large alpine lakes in the world, it is 14.4km in circumference, 9.16 sq km in area and 384m in the deepest.
Paektu and Sagimun falls rising in the lake unfold a mysterious alpine landscape.
The celebrated mountain is characterized by ever-changing weather. A fierce gale rises on the shore of placid Lake Chon all of a sudden, rocking heaven and earth and bringing rain clouds. But the next moment, dark clouds break up and the sun comes out. Falling rain is replaced by hail in no time; on one side, flowers wet with rain sparkle in the sunshine and on the other side, snowflakes fall. Such wonders of nature are seen innumerably.
Standouts are rhododendrons blooming in snow, chars in Lake Chon, and Paektu and Paegam spas.
Mt Paektu is associated with the antiJapanese armed struggle organized and led by President Kim Il Sung to liberate the country and is a sublime mountain of the Korean revolution where General Kim Jong Il’s native home is.
It was registered as an international biosphere preserve in Juche 78 (1989).
Mt Kumgang is situated in the eastern part of the Korean peninsula. It opens out diverse, magnificent and beautiful scenery in a vast area. It is called one of the most celebrated mountains as it is blessed with 12 000 peaks, myriads of fantastic rocks and soaring cliffs, deep gorges, spectacular falls, pools associated with legends and superb scenic beauty of seashore, which go well with one another.
The mountain is divided into three sections-Inner Kumgang, Outer Kumgang and Sea Kumgang-according to the type of landscape.
In the mountain grow rare plants like Kumgang Stephanandra incisa and Hanabusaya asiatica Nakai, which are found in one and only genus and species in the world.
A foreign poet said: “Don’t talk about any celebrated mountain in the world before seeing Mt Kumgang.”
Mt Myohyang is situated in the northwestern part of Korea. Piro Peak, the main peak of the mountain, is 1 909m high.
Majestic and queer peaks, crystal-clear water, cataracts, dense forests, fragrance of flowers, leaves that turn red in autumn, babbling creeks and chirping birds-all these go well with one another to present a fantastic view.
Spectacles include Piro, Wenman, Chonthap and Hyangno peaks, and lnho and Paegun rocks.
Between peaks and cliffs there are valleys, deep and narrow, such as Sangwon, Manphok, Chonthae and Chilsong, and Pison, Kumgang, Taeha, Sanju, Ryongyon, Kuchung and lsonnam falls are also splendid.
A lot of historical remains are preserved in the mountain. There are the Pohyon Temple showcasing the architecture of Korea in the early 11th century, the Pulyong Hall which had housed the chronicles of the feudal Jason dynasty, one of Korea’s typical historical records, the archives of 80 000 Blocks of the Complete Collection of Buddhist Scriptures and many other remains.
In particular, there is the International Friendship Exhibition House, preserving the gifts presented to President Kim Il Sung, General Kim Jong Il and Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un from many countries of the world.
From olden times Mt Chilbo is called Kumgang in North Hamgyong Province for the combination of beautiful mountain and seascape. It lies in Myongchon, Hwadae, Myonggan and Orang counties of North Hamgyong Province.
Covering an area of 250 sq km, the mountain has Chonbul Peak (659m) as its main peak. The magnificent look of the mountain boasting of graceful peaks, deep ravines, falls, ponds, woods and seascape and sculpture-like steep rocks are so picturesque and precious that people named it Mt Chilbo (meaning seven treasures).
The unique scenery of the mountain varies with the localities, and is divided into Inner Chilbo, Outer Chilbo and Sea Chilbo, according to their features.
It lies on the border area between Unryul, Anak, Samchon and Unchon counties, South Hwanghae Province.
The mountain features steep crags, deep lush ravines, deep blue pond, limpid roaring fords weaving along the ravines and white waterfalls. They blend well with one another, unfolding an unusual natural beauty of mountain and ravine.
Mt Kuwol is one of the six famous mountains that has been known to the Korean people from olden limes.