Mt.Kŭmgang (or "Kumgansang", in Korean it means "diamond mountain") is a 1,638 m (5,374 ft)-high mountain. With its 12,000 peaks Mt.Kumgang is located at the east coast of Korea, south of Wonsan, and not far from the demarcation line with the South, it is about 50 kilometres (31 mi) from the South Korean city of Sokcho in Gangwon-do. It is one of the most famous mountains in North Korea.
"If I were to die the day after seeing Kumgang, I would have no regrets", said the Chinese Song Dynasty poet Su Shi (1037-1101). This mountainous area, part of Taebak mountain range along the country's east coast, was considered sacred by Korean Buddhists for thousand of years. Composed of thousands of rugged, glittering granite and diorite peaks, cliffs, steep ravines, waterfalls, and ancient Buddhist temples, Kumgangsan is a region of breathtaking beauty that, until 2010, had been off-limits to most foreigners visitng North Korea.
You can explore the scenic Mt. Kumgang, whose hills are dotted with ancient temples and hidden hermitages. Hike up to one of two dramatic peaks: Sujong peak and Sejon peak. You also can relax after long hiking day in famous Kumgangsan Spa where you can experience 100C water.
Kumgangsan is divided in Inner, Outer, and Sea Kumgang. In the 40 by 60 km area are beautiful mountains, streams, falls, springs, a lake, many Buddhist temples and a museum.
Mt.Kumgang is 108 km from Wonsan (about 3h drive), and about 310 km from Pyongyang (6 - 7h drive). The 108-km road from Wonsan to Kumgang more or less goes parallel with the coast. The whole road is fenced or wired, except near the teahouse at the Sijung Lake, where it is possible to have a swim.
Between Inner and Sea Kumgang there is Outer Kumgang area. Outer Kumgang is the major tourist destination with its iconic Kuryong Falls - one of the three famous waterfalls of Korea. There are also Hoesang Pavilion, Rabbit Rock, Kumgang Gate, Oknyu Pool and Falls, Ryonju Pool and Falls, Pibong and Mubong Falls and Sangphal Pools in which eight fairies from the Heaven flied down to play.
There are several major tracks in Outer Kumgang:
Outer Kumgang is noted for the large number of peaks. Please refer below for the details for each course.
Kuryongyon Course is the most beatiful one in Outer Kumgang. 7 - 8 km, 3-4h walk: Mokrankwan Restaurant - Angjidae Cliff - Samroksu - Kumgang Gate - Okryudong Valley - Ryonjudam Pond - Kuryong Falls
Kuryong Falls, Lake and Rock
The roaring water falls down from 74 m height. The Kuryong Falls are 4 m wide and 74 meters high. In front of the Falls ther is the Kuryong Pavilion, from where the beautiful falls can be conviently observed. Just under the falls there is the 13 m deep Kuryong Lake. Just across Ryondam Bridge there is about 700 m steep path to Kuryong Rock from which you can enjoy view on a deep valley and eight big lakes called the Upper Pal Lakes.
Turtle Rock and Frog Rock
After Mokran Bridge there are Turtle Rock and Frog Rock. The Turtle Rock also called Rabbit Rock has a story: a rabbit who lived in heaven got permission from the King of Heaven to go and see Mt.Kumgang.
The rabbit went down and enjoyed its time but it did not return in time because it was consumed by the landscape beauty. Therefore the rabbit was punished and was changed into a turtle and then transformed into a rock.
Kumgang Gate is a stone gate formed by several big rocks. The gate opens spectacular view on the Okryu Valley.
Okryu Valley starts shortly after you have passed the Kumgang Gate. In the valley there is big Okryu Lake and the 50m high Okryu Falls.
Ryongju Falls and Lake
Ryongju falls is 3-4m high and it falls into two connected blue Ryongju Lakes located above each other.
Pibong Falls and Ponghwang Lake
Pibong Falls is one of the four biggest in Kumgangsan. It is 139 meters high and the water falls into the Ponghwang Lake. Above Pibong Falls is 30 m Mubong Falls.
Manmulsang Area has hundreds of different rocky peaks, each of which has its own legend. It is 5-6 km, 3-4h walk: Mansangjung - Samsunam Rock - Chilchungam Rock - Jeolbuam Rock - Anshimdae Cliff - Hanulmun - Cheonseondae Cliff - Mangyangdae Cliff
is a pavilion near the entrance to Manmulsang next to the Mansang Spring. It is 600 m above the sea level. There is Samson Rock behind the Mansang Spring. A bit further there is Kwimyon Rock- it is a big rock with a small one on the top.
Manjang Spring is famous because of the legend about this spring saying that those who swim in it will become 10 years younger. Just before the spring there us Ansim Rock which looks like horse saddle.
It is a rock gate, and there is a inscription in Korean on one of the rocks “The most beautiful view of Kumgang”.
Chonson Rock is the place where according to the myth fairies from heaven came to play. Northwest of the rock, halfway the cliff, there is the Fairies Lake, the place where the fairies washed themselves before rising back to the heaven.
The name Samilpo comes from thee famous knights of the elite youth corps of the Silla Kingdom (57BC - 935 AD) who were enchanted by the lake's scenic beauty and lingered three days. Surrounding mountain peaks are reflected on the water surface. Haekumgang seashore is famous for harmony of colors from white sand, green pine trees and blue seawater.
The course is 4-5 km, 2-3 h walk: Samilpo Lake - Yeonhwadae Rock - Bongraedae Rock.
Inner Kumgangsan is a beautiful mountain area where there are many temples, falls and tiny hermitages where monks used to live.
In the temple there are about 10 monks living, some of them since 1972. You can attend a service and in return a small donation is appreciated.
Situated in the delightful Manphok Valley of Inner Kumgang, the buildings were constructed in 1675 during the Li dynasty. This building with one room is suspended by a single copper pole on a 20-meter high cliff.
It was carved during the Koryo dynasty and it is the biggest Buddhist stone image in Korea.
The Phyohun Temple
in Mt. Kumgang is one of the time-honored historical cultural relics of Korea.The temple built in 670 was first called Sinrim Temple. It was famous as one of the four renowned temples in Mt. Kumgang along with the Jangan, Singye and Yujom Temples. The Phyohun Temple shows well wooden architecture of Korea in the Middle Ages and aesthetic tastes of the Korean ancestors. It originally consisted of 20 odd buildings, but now there remain only the Panyabo Hall, Ryongsan Hall, Myongbu Hall, Rungpha Pavilion, Osil Pavilion, Sansin Pavilion and some others. The Myongwol Hall, the main building of the temple, and the three-meter-high statue of a Buddhist saint, which had been between the Panyabo Hall and the Rungpha Pavilion were totally destroyed during the Korean war. The Phyohun Temple presents multifarious changes with the proper combination of hip-saddle roofed houses and gabled houses on the central north-south axis.
The Sea Kumgang area is known for the lagoons and stone pillars.
According to legend, a king once visited the lake for a day but was so amazed by its beauty that he stayed there for three days, hence the name Samil (three days). You can rent a boat and make a trip on the lake. By the lake is Tanpung Restaurant, where you can rest and have a meal afterwards.
The lagoon in the past used to be connected to the sea. The lagoon is 9-13 meters deep and has a circumference of 8 km. There are boats for hire to make a trip on the lake.
It is about 100 m walk from Kumgansan hotel. There are traditional Korean houses with small vegetable gardens there. Behind the village there is Egg-shaped Rock on top of a few smaller rocks. There is a legend saying that one of the rocks once was a general who decided to kill with his sword snake which wanted to eat an egg but gods converted both to rocks. Thus in front of the rock still there is a stone shaped as a cut snake.
Kumgangsan Hot Springs
Near Onjung-ri, about 300 m from the Kumgangsan Hotel there is Kumgangsan Hot Springs where you can enjoy radon spa rich in radium, minerals and silica with temperature of 37 to 44C.
At the entrance to Sujong Valley there is 30 m high rock on which in the rainy season falls forms. In the valley you can find Sujong Peak, Pigeon Peak, Sonsu Rock, Sujong Gate - the biggest rock gate in the Kumgangsan, Kangson Rock - where the fairies come to play according to old stories.
Over a suspension bridge there is Chonmang Rock from where you will ha a magnificent view. North of Sujong Peak is Kumgang Cave with a spring inside. A bit further there is a steep slope leading to Pari Peak - a round and flat rock looking like a upside-down bowl.
Spend a few hours on the local beaches of the Kumgang coast, where you are likely to be one of very few visitors. Have wide swaths of sand and sea entirely to yourself!
Kumgangsan Revolutionary Museum
Visit the Kumgangsan Revolutionary Museum which chronicles the anti-Japanese resistance in this part of North Korea in the first half of the 20th century. The Museum tells stories about President Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and anti-Japanese war hero Kim Jong Suk working hard to build a wonderful resort for the people.
In Kumgang area there are several options:
We have group and individual tours visitng Mt.Kumgang. Drop us a message to check what options are available for you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Korean Mountains
There are five celebrated mountains in Korea, and you can check out other four: