April 1, 2009｜Korean Peninsula
Choe Yong Chol
Director and Master’s Degree Holder, Korean Social Scientists Society, DPRK
In Korea, where mountains occupy 80% of the land, there are many famed peaks. Amongst them though there are the representative mountains of Mt. Paektu, Mt. Kumgang, Mt. Myohyang, Mt. Kuwol, Mt. Chilbo, and Mt. Jiri.
This is the ancestral mountain which the Korean people hold as a symbol of the nation’s majesty and dignity. It rises on the border between the DPRK and China, and, as the tallest mountain (2,750m) in Korea, is the starting point of the Great Paektu Mountain Range stretching down to the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula. The area around the summit has a classic alpine climate, and with natural phenomena changing over time—stillness and gales, downpours of rain and heavy snows, rain clouds and beautiful clear blue skies—the spectacle where heaven and earth appear to give rise to harmony is played out several times a day.
At Lake Chon [Heaven Lake] (9.16 km2), which is a lake formed from water filling the crater which arose when Paektu volcano erupted, tornado-shaped clouds often occur [magnificent tornado-shaped clouds which spread in fan-like fashion up to the vicinity of the summit]. Those who climb Mt. Paektu are able to see most of the plants (some 2,700-odd species) ranging from the temperate to sub-arctic and arctic zones. Mt. Paektu, as the place where President Kim Il Sung opened up the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle and where General Secretary Kim Jong Il was born, has today become the sacred ground of the Korean revolution.
This is a famous mountain in Korea, possessing all of a great diversity of natural landscapes, including beautiful mountains and valleys, and plateau, lake and sea-coast scenery, and is a famous mountain known widely around the world. Mt. Kumgang (1,639m) includes a vast region of 530km2 in area in the central part of the East Sea coast of Korea, extending 60km from north to south and 40km from east to west.
Singular natural landscapes resplendent with color are beyond count at Mt. Kumgang, with foremost among them the Upper Phal [eight] Pools of legend—eight fairies bathed there and went back up to heaven—with beautiful scenery and waters like jade; the Kuryong [nine dragon] Falls, the name of which had its origin in the legend of nine dragons that lived there to defend Mt. Kumgang; and Samil Lagoon known far and wide for its lake scenery.
A great many tourists come and visit from the ROK and many places around the world.
With its peculiar contours and its beautiful natural scenery it has long been a famous mountain of Korea. Mt. Myohyang (1,909m) occupies 375km2 of the northwestern part of Korea. It is well-known that President Kim Il Sung is supposed to have blocked a gold mine in the surrounding area and made it possible to preserve intact its natural beauty.
At Mt. Myohyang there is Sangwon Valley with its concentration of beautiful scenes—foremost among them the dense woodland and peculiarly-shaped rock outcrops providing good views, falls and azure ponds, and architectural structures from the past including temples—and Manphok [ten-thousand-waterfall] Valley which is famous for its scenery of a continuous string of multitudinous waterfalls of all sizes within the confines of one valley. In addition there are very many ruins and relics, with foremost among them Pohyon Temple, with the “80,000-block Buddhist scriptures” and the woodblocks for printing them, and pagodas and stone monuments.
In particular, the International Friendship Exhibition Hall is located at Mt. Myohyang, increasing its significance as a famous mountain still further. The International Friendship Exhibition Hall contains a great many rare and precious presents which were given to President Kim Il Sung and General Secretary Kim Jong Il from many countries around the world, and many people visit every day.
Mt. Kuwol [ninth month of the lunar calendar] is known by that name as its scenery in autumn is beautiful. It is a mountain famous for its autumn leaves. A mountain with a height above sea level of 954m and an area of 110 km2, which is close to the West Sea coast in the central part of Korea, it has long been widely-known for its mountains and valleys of singular beauty. In addition, there are many architectural structures from the past—the foremost of which is Phaeyop Temple which was erected at the beginning of the ninth century—and the remains of Kuwol Castle which reach 5,230m in circumference.
Mt. Chilbo stands out prominently for its winter landscape of snow. A mountain with a height above sea level of 1,103m, it occupies an area of approximately 250km2 on the East Sea coast in the northern part of Korea. Mt. Chilbo, through its beautiful scenery—including peculiar ridges and rock formations, exhilarating falls and ponds, sea cliffs and rocky islands, and hot springs which well up in all four seasons of the year—possesses superb views comparable to those of Mt. Kumgang.
There are 70-odd species of medicinal plants alone, and in particular the song-i [matsutake] mushrooms of Mt. Chilbo, having a distinctive flavor and fragrance, are a specialty product widely known domestically and overseas. Via the meticulous leadership of General Secretary Kim Jong Il, it has been developed as a tourist and recreational area.
With its gallant outline, Mt. Jiri has since long ago been known as a place of scenic beauty. A mountain with a height above sea level of 1,915m, which is close to the South Sea coast of the Korean Peninsula, it has a variety of historic ruins, and plants are distributed according to altitude ranging from sub-tropical to sub-arctic species.