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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.

Celebrated Mountains

Mt Paektu

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 Kumkang

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

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.

Mt Chilbo

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.

Mt Kuwol

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.

Celebrated Waterfalls

Kuryong Falls

Kuryong Falls, 74m high, are in Mt Kumgang.

Under the falls is the 13m-deep Kuryong Pool. The Kuryong Pavilion stands on the granite cliff of the falls. Under the pavilion is seen a gorge along which clear water streams down to the Upper Eight Pools associated with a legend of eight fairies who came down from Heaven to take a bath in them, fascinated by the beautiful scenery.

Pine trees on cliffs and a chain of rocks in various shapes add a touch of charm to the falls.

The clear water of Kuryong Falls is called mineral water as it contains various minerals.

Pagyon Falls

Pagyon Falls, 37m high, are located between Mt Chonma and Mt Songgo in Kaesong in the middle of Korea.

Over the falls is a pool, called Pagyon, Sm in diameter, and in the middle of it is Son Rock. Under the falls is Komo Pool, 40m in diameter, on the shore of which stands the Pomsa Pavilion.

Around the falls there are the Taehungsan Fort and Kwanum and Taehung temples, which add a touch of antiquity to the scene.

Ullim Falls

Ullim Falls are located in Munchon, Kangwon Province. They are 63m high, 5m wide and two-tiered. Twenty to twenty-five cu m of water cascade down per second.

Below the falls is a pond 1.5m deep, with a radius of 30m.

Lakes and Seaside Sights

Lake Samji

Lake Samji is in the Paektu lava area. It consists of three small lakes, which were formed as a result of a stream having been blocked by basalt and pumice flowing down from the mouth of the volcano of Mt Paektu. The largest lake is 2.6km in circumference and 3m deep.

The lake is as beautiful as a picture-the chain of the Paektu Mountains dimly seen as mist lifts at dawn, larch and white birch forests around the lake, clear water mirroring them, sandy beach, azalea blossoms, grazing deer and roe deer in flocks. During the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle Kim Il Sung had a rest here on his advance to the Musan area, leading the main force of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.

Here is a grand monument consisting of group sculptures of guerrillas and a beacon tower, centring on the bronze statue of Kim Il Sung.

Lagoon Samii

lagoon Samii is situated in Kosong County, Kangwon Province on the east coast of Korea. The lagoon, 6.5km in circumference, is bounded by 36 hillocks on the north including Samilpho Kumgang Gate, a big stone gate, on the northwest and Sea Kumgang of Mt Kumgang on the southeast. It has been known as a scenic spot from olden times-Wau Islet lying in the middle of the lake with pine trees growing on it, such histcrical relics as the site of the Sason Pavilion and Musondae, and peaks around the lake reflected on the gentle water.

It is said that in old times a king came here to have a good day, but stayed here for three days, mesmerized by its gorgeous view, hence the name Samii {three days in Korean).

Lake Sijung

lake Sijung in Thongchon County, Kangwon Province, is also one of the scenic spots on the east coast of Korea. The serene natural lake­thick pine woods on the shore and crystal-clear water-is more beautiful at moonlit night, creating a quiet and peaceful mood. The mud of the lake is widely known for its high remedial value.


Songdowon, a seashore scenic attraction in Wonsan, Kangwon Province, is a recreation ground covering an area of 200 ha. There is a sandy beach 40 to 100 metres wide and several kilometres long. Fragrant sweet briar blooms red on the beach.

The seashore lapped by gentle waves is a good bathing resort. The pine groves near the beach provide welcome shade, and there are sporting and amusement facilities, Sujong (Crystal) Pavilion, Mujigae (Rainbow) Bridge and the like.


Chongsokjong is a scenic attraction on the seashore in Thongchon County in Kangwon Province. Chongsok, which means stone group, consists of hexagonal or octagonal basalt pillars formed by volcanic action and long weathering processes. They stretch 1 000m along the shore in the shape of standing, sitting and lying columns. Of them, four columns are dozens of metres high each and called Sason (four supernatural beings) Peak as a legend has it that in olden times four supernatural beings played on top of them as they are so mysterious and beautiful like polished jade.

It is fascinating to see sunrise over Chongsokjong, majestic rock columns on the blue sea, pine trees rooting in cracks of rocks and the nocturnal view suffused by silvery moonlight.


Monggumpho is situated on the coast of Ryongyon County, South Hwanghae Province, in the west. The white sandy beach, blossoming sweet brier and green pine trees form a beautiful scene along the coast. To the south there are mysteriously-shaped rocks like Khokkiri (Elephant) and Korae (Whale) rocks and to the east it is reminiscent of Chongsokjong and Sea Kumgang. The beach. is 2km wide and 8km long, and the sand is so high in quality that it is known across the world.

Underground Scenic Beauty

Ryongmun Cavern

Ryongmun Cavern in Kujang County, North Phyongan Province, is a karst cave in the limestone area formed in the lower Palaeozoic sub-era hundreds of· millions of years ago.

It is 6km long and consists of two main sections and many wings. There are the Sokhwa and Paekhwa sections representing all kinds of flowers in nature, the Kumgang Section depicting 12 000 peaks, Eight Pools and waterfalls in Mt Kumgang, and the Paektusan Secret Camp Section showing Jong II Peak, vast forests and Mt Paektu behind them.

The cavern, blessed with stalactites, stone flowers and stalagmites, unfolds scenes in every cave and grotto-Posok Section reminiscent of glittering gems on the 120 sq m of ceiling, Chonsang Ragwon Section presenting a picturesque view of Samsonam Falls 30m high and Ryongmun Square with an area of 3 600 sq m.

Songam Cave

Songam Cave in Kaechon, South Phyongan Province, in the western part of Korea consists of 16 sections and over 70 scenic spots. The stone gate in the Kwanmun Section leads to Tolmun Falls and then to the Phokpho Section.

The sound of the waterfall is thrilling, rainbow trouts swim in the pool under it filled with dozens of cubic metres of water and life figures of sea urchin, crocodile, carp,lobster and squid are seen between falls. The cave has a lot of scenic spots including the Kiam Section showing rocks in the shapes of dove, hawk, eagle, sword and wing of steed, roaring ten-tiered falls, the Solgyong and Unha sections with dazzling snowscape and galaxy, and the Surim Section, Paekhwa Section with stone flowers and Kungjon Section.

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