Having the landmark mountain of the same name Taebaek in its boundary, Taebaek City is at the center of the Baekdu Mountain Range stretching all the way from Mt. Baekdu in North Korea to Mt. Jiri in the South. At the same time, it is the riverhead of water. The stream flowing from the Samsuryeong watershed located in the range diverges toward the Han River to the north, Nakdong to the south and Oshipcheon to the east. Let’s take a trip to appreciate the beautiful cityscape of the city along with mountain and the serene flow of the water.
Mt. Maebong’s Snowy Scenery with Stark Black-and-White Contrast
One of the most typical elements representing the city is the snowy landscape of Mt. Maebong. Walking up the 3.8km-long winding path starting from Samsuryeong, you will find the 1,303m-high mountain covered with snow, presenting a breathtaking view. The summit is so windy that it is called the Hill of Wind. There, you can see eight wind turbine units rotating their blades like pinwheels on a gently sloped ridge.
Taebaek, located approximately 700m above sea level, used to be a mining city. It had a total of 44 coal mines back in the day, yet only 1 remains now following the government’s drive to modernize the mining industry. However, you can still find traces of a prosperous mining town near Yeongdong and Taebaek Line train stations such as Cheoram, Tongni and Chujeon. The contrast between black and white along the railroad tracks is stark and unique. Chujeon Station is the highest altitude stop in Korea.
The snowy scene reaches its climax at Mt. Taebaek. At the peak, you will be so mesmerized and believe you are treading on a gigantic sheet of white paper. The beautiful snow on the trees and hoarfrost on the grass embroider the summit and ridges, with the wonder of the sight doubling when the sun rises, casting its rays between branches.
Mystique of Meandering, Gushing Streams
A picturesque view of brooks also awaits visitors. The water of Hw-angjicheon Stream in the upper part of the Nakdong River passes through Mt. Taebaek to form the deep pond of Gumunso pond, also called Turunae. The landscape, decorated with lofty pine trees, is truly beyond description. The 20m- to 30m-high rugged precipices have and continue to attract poets and painters.
From the gazebo of Jagaeru in Gumunso, visitors can appreciate the eight famous spots in Gumun area, including Madangso Pond, Samhyeongje (Three Brothers) Waterfall and Dakbyeosul (Chicken Comb) Rock, all at a glance. Around the Gumunso, there is also a place where people used to hold rituals for rain during dry seasons, and the myth of an underwater palace was created there by a person named Eom Jong-han.
If you would like to see where the Han River rises, you are recommended to visit the Geomnyongso pond, where 2,000 tons of water well up from the rocky, mossy puddle in the dense forest. The currents have been there for so many years that the bedrock, which is approximately two meters in depth, contains numerous potholes. The water gushing through the moss covered bedrock look somewhat surreal, reminding many of a fire-breathing dragon. In fact, the second syllable of the Chinese character name stands for the imaginary animal.
It is said that the water’s temperature maintains itself at around 10oC all the year round. Of the entire water systems constituting the Han River, the water of the pond is the cleanest and coldest. The ground water penetrating the limestone aquifers forms a 30m - high cascade - a sight often transfixing visitors.