The sacred Paektu Mountains are with its 2,750 meters the highest in Korea. They are also called the ancestral mountains and have been worshipped forever. Paektu-san are located in the north, near the Chinese border. The name Paektu-san means, “white-capped mountains”. They are covered with white stone and on the peaks there is eternal snow. High up there is the beautiful crater lake Chon. On the top it is cold, the yearly average temperature being -8,3˚C (max 18˚C, min -47˚C) and there is a strong wind blowing. The mountains also have a revolutionary history. It was here where Kim Il Sung established his headquarters in the struggle against the Japanese usurpers. It was here where the Loved Leader Kim Jong Il was born, thus re-emphasizing very old Korean beliefs.
The volcanic Lake Chon is located on a height of 2,190 meters. It has a circumference of 14 km. The average depth is 213 meters, the maximum 384 meters. From mid-October to mid-June the lake is covered with ice.
Paektu Spa Near the lake water with a high degree of minerals is found. It is used for bottling.
Route The way from the Pegaebong Hotel to the lake goes via the camp up on Pegae Hill, the secret cap of Kim in the Paektu Mountains, and along the Amnok River. On the top you will have a spectacular view on Lake Chon. The route continues, down to Mudu Peak and Sinmusong.
Pegae Hill Pegae Hill is 1621 meters high and has the shape of a cushion. On the mountain, 4,5 km from the seat of Samjiyon, is the place where the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army (KPRA) was camping on May 20, 1939, on the way to Musan. They seemed to have had no time to clean, you can still see the remains of the tents, kitchens and even chewing gum.
Secret Camps In the Op Sobaeksu Valley, between Saha peak and Mt. Sobaek, during World War II were the secret camps of the KPRA. Of course there is a monument, dedicated to the revolutionary leadership of Comrade Kim Il Sung. Much more important for the modern history of Korea, also because of the sacred meaning of these mountains, is that on February 16, 1942, his son was born here. It is possible to visit the native house of Kim Jong Il, a simple wooden cabin. There are also a liaison-office, and some other buildings belonging to the headquarters to be seen, like the log cabin built in 1936 and used by Kim Il Sung. Near the cabin are so-called slogan-bearing trees.
Jong Il Peak In the Sobaeksu Valley near the Secret Camps and next to the Sobaek River there is a 1,798 meters high peak, renamed after Kim Jong Il.
Amnok River From the lake there is a road up along the Amnok River. This river is 803 km long. It flows from Janggun Peak to the sea west of Korea.
Hyongje Falls Near the Hyongje (Brothers) Falls the stream divides into two and falls down from the rocks.
Paektu Falls A kilometer further you will reach Paektu Falls, where the water goes down 16 meters.
Sagimun Falls A bit further on the road are Sagimun Falls. It is 18 meters high.
Paektu Bridge This small bridge is the gate to Paektu Mountains. Near the bridge is a restaurant. There is a cable car of 2 km, which brings you near Lake Chon.
Changgun Peak The highest peak in the Paektu Mountains is the 2750 meters high Changgun. At one side of the peak are the cliffs of Lake Chon.
Mudu Peak From Lake Chon down, 8 km from Paektu Bridge, you will pass the 1930 meters high Mudu Peak, which is covered with basalt. On the peak there are five simple lodgings.
Sinmusong From Mudu Peak it is 11 km to Sinmusong. The last part of the road goes through thick forest.
Samji (“Three Pools”) was formed a million years ago by streaming lava blocking a river. The lake is located 4 km from the seat of Samjiyon and 20 km from Sinmusong. The lake has a circumference of 4,5 km and is 3 meters deep. It is located 6 km northeast of the Pegaebong Hotel.
Grand Monument In May 1979, to memorize the battle that took place here in Musan 40 years earlier, a monument was built. It consists of a bronze image of Kim Il Sung, a 50 meters high flame-tower (Ponghwa Tower), a sculptural group (Trumpeter of Advance), and a memorial stone with a poem.
Kapsan-Musan Military Road About 100 meters from the lake is the 120 km long road that was built by the Japanese in 1937-39 to strengthen their power in the border areas. On May 21, 1939, the night before the road was opened, the main force of KPRA came out of their shelter and openly marched on the road and thus challenged the Japanese into battle.
The Big Red Plain derives its name from being covered with azaleas in spring and with all kinds of red-colored plants in autumn. On this plain in May 1939 was the big Musan Battle. The seat of Taehongdan is about 70 km northeast of the Pegaebong Hotel.
Mupho Camp In this place the main force of KPRA on May 21, 1939, spent the night. The Mupho is the small river that originates on this part of the plain called Mubong.
Monument The Monument to Victorious Battle in Musan Area is 15 km southwest of Mupo Camp. The monument was erected in 1971. There is a 35 meters high obelisk. On the walls next to the obelisk are reliefs of Kim Il Sung, soldiers and battle scenes.
Tuman River The Tuman River comes from the eastern slope of Paektu Mountains. After 548 km it ends in the sea east of Korea. The river and its tributaries are used for power works and for transportation.
Paektusan Youth Blueberry Farm This state farm was built in 1981. A few hundred of hectares are planted with blueberries. The berries are used to make juices, wine and candies. The berries are harvested in August.
The village of woodcutters Rimyongsu is located 12 km from Pegae Hill.
Konchang Camp About 6 km south of Pegae Hill and by road 6 km (2 km as the crow flies) from Rimyongsu is the place where the main force of the KPRA spend the night on May 19, 1939. You can still see the remains. There is a stream flowing through Konchang, but it is dry most of the year.
Chong Hill Camp About 4 km southwest of Konchang is a hill covered with forest. The KPRA spend the night here on May 18, 1939. There is a statue of Kim Il Sung who prepares the Musan Battle. Here also there are remains of the camp to see.
Rimyongsu Falls About 800 meters from Rimyongsu are the beautiful Rimyongsu Falls. The water comes from underground streams and breaks through the basalt rocks. The falls are 4 meters wide and 6 meters high. In wintertime the falls change into ice pillars, a spectacular view.
Samjiyon is the county seat in the Paektu Mountains, about 65 km from Hyesan.
Hyesan City is located in the Paektu Mountains and on the border with China by the Amnok River. There used to be a castle here. The average temperature is low, around 3°C. Frost starts in the end of September and lasts until May.
Kwaegong Pavilion The Kwaegong Pavilion used to be on top of the South Gate of Hyesan Jin Castle. This castle was rebuilt in 1421 and used until the end of the Ri Dynasty. The pavilion has two stories of which the second one is made of wood. From the pavilion there is a nice view on the Amnok River.
Pochonbo Battle Monument On the hill of Kweagong Pavilion is the 38.7 meters high Monument to the Victorious Pochonbo Battle. It was built in 1967 to memorize the battle which took place her on June 4, 1937.
Pochonbo The mountainous city Pochonbo is located 21 km from Hyesan. Here the KPRA fought the Pochonbo Battle in 1937. Preserved are the comanding site and some other buildings associated with the battle. On the place where he delivered a speech a statue of Kim Il Sung was erected. Also a museum and a monument were built.
Naegok Spa On the shore of Karim Stream near Pochonbo there is the Naegok Spa. The water has a temperature of 46 oC and is reputed to be effective in women’s diseases, high blood pressure, arthritis and other diseases. There is also a sanatorium.
To and from Paektu
Paektu is 385 km from Pyongyang and can be reached by plane or train and bus or car. By train it is a journey of 20 hours. Sometimes for groups there is a chartered plane to Paektu and individual travellers might use the spare seats (availability always decided on the spot).