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Mount Paektu

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Mount Paektu

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Mount Baekdu (백두산 Paektusan/Baekdusan in Korean, 长白山 Chángbái Shān in Chinese) is a mountain on the Chinese-North Korean border. It is part of the Baekdu mountain range.


A dormant volcano which last erupted in 1903, with a vast crater lake at its centre, it is the country's highest mountain at 2744m (9000ft), and also of huge mythical importance to Koreans.

The huge crater lake called Chonji ("Lake of Heaven") lies at the summit, surrounded by bare rocky crags. It is one of the deepest alpine lakes in the world, and also one of the coldest.

The Chinese side of the mountain, which occupies half of the caldera lake as well, is a lot more accessible and much more inexpensive to visit than North Korean side.


Paekdusan is sacred to all Koreans, because according to Korean mythology it is where the 'Son of the Lord of Heaven' descended to earth and the first Korean kingdom began. It is also associated with Korean independence fighters who made it as a base of operations throughout the Japanese occupation. The mountain's mythology has been appropriated by Kim Jong-il, who claims the mountain as his birthplace as well; historical evidence points at him being born in the North Korean logging camp "Vyatskoye" (Вя́тское), north-east of Khabarovsk Krai. The Manchus similarly consider it to be sacred, as the mountain was off limits for most of Qing China's history.

In 1962, the mountain was "split" and given to China by North Korea in a border agreement, which to this day remains a highly controversial move. South Korea does not acknowledge the agreement.

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