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Monday, 11 November 2013

Mount Taebaek: Trademark of Taebaek City and Taebaek Range

Mount Taebaek is a South Korean main mountain peak of Taebaek Range (Hangul/Korean Romanization/Japanese Romanization: 태백산맥/Taebaek Sanmaek/Taihaku Sanmyaku). It stretches from Taebaek City and Yeongwol County, Gangwon Province to Bonghwa County, Northern Gyeongsang Province. It has an elevation of 1,566.7 m (5,140 ft).

Mount Taebaek encompasses several peaks such as Yeongbong Peak, where in the past, people would conduct rites to venerate Heaven at Cheonjedan, Janggun Peak (1,567m) and Munsu Peak (1,517m). The mountain is rather high but easy to hike since it is relatively smooth and has few cliffs. The higher plains are covered with alpine vegetation. The mountain becomes hot pink with mountain rhododendron and azalea in the spring; green with thick forest and pristine waters in the summer; rainbow colored with changing leaves in the fall; and white with snow in the winter. 

It is one of the three sacred mountains of Korea and the sunrise observed at Cheonjedan is simply breathtaking. There is a ritual site for Dangun Wanggeom - forefather of Koreans in Danggol Valley, where people celebrate Gaecheonjeol/Korean National Foundation Day (개천절) each year; and there are a number of Buddhist temples such as Manggyeongsa, Baekdansa, Yuilsa and Cheongwonsa. Right below the mountaintop lies Yongjeong, the well that is said to boast the very best-quality water among the 100 good water sources in Korea. Near the park are located Geomryongso, the origin of the Han River, and Hwangji Pond, source of the Nakdong/Rakdong River. The Taebaek Coal Museum and Gumunso Natural Experience Field provide visitors with information on fossils, geology and the development of the coal industry. 

Manggyeongsa Buddhist Temple in Hyeoldong, Taebaek at an altitude of 1,460 meters on Mount Taebaek, is a temple built to enshrine the statue of the Bodhisattva of wisdom. It was built by Jajang, a Silla Dynasty monk. The "Dragon Spring" at the entrance of the temple is known as the highest spring in Korea.

You can watch the sun rising out of the East Sea from the top of Mount Taebaek via Cheonjedan. It usually first appears breaking through the clouds or peeking between the mountaintops. In order to watch the first sunrise of the year at the top of Mt. Taebaek, you need to equip yourself with a wintertime hiking outfit and tools such as crampons and a headlamp. Since Mt. Taebaek is not far from downtown Taebaek (Specific Location: Hyeoldong and Sodo-dong vicinity), it is convenient for hikers to spend the night Taebaek and get to the mountain by land transportation.