Taebaek: The Lost Mountains

If I had to make an analogy to Taebaeksan’s lack of notoriety, I would compare it to Korea!  Korea happens to be in a bad place geographically.  Stuck between two eastern giants, Korea is often confused with Japan and China and generally not known very well by foreigners.  Although Taebaek would probably not get confused for any other mountain range, it is nonetheless almost non-existent to foreigners in Korea due to the seemingly endless list of mountains here.  It is, however, one place that should be definitely experienced if possible. 

Taebaeksan: the lost mountains

The Snowy White Taebaeksan

Korea, which is one of the most mountainous countries in the world, has no shortage of amazing mountain ranges that stretch across the beautiful country.  The behemoth, of course, is Soraksan and is known for its beauty and significance in Korea and seems to dwarf the seemingly endless list of mountains and ranges.  Bukhansan (the san in Korean means “mountain”, and Hallasan are two other household names to foreigners, but most foreigners see only these.   Given the gigantic number of mountains, it is no surprise that the national pastime- apart from Norebongs (singing rooms)- is hiking one of the ubiquitous mountain ranges.

Taebaek town also shares the name with the mountain range that surrounds it along the eastern coast.  Taebaek is a part of a number of ranges that spread into North Korea.  Nearby, there are casinos and a variety of resorts to suit the unfortunately small number of tourists.  Among the sights to see are Manggyeonsa Temple, which is worth the 10+ hours, and also the “Dragon Spring”, which is known as the highest spring in all Korea.  Since coal and mining was a very important part of the economy here, you may also want to check out the museum dedicated to the coal industry.  A yearly festival is also held in the winter time.SAM_0346

At only 3-4 hours away, Taebaek is accessible by both train and bus and a definite bucket list for Korea.  The mountains are completely blanked with beautiful trees that make the air unbelievably fresh and sweet and a very nice change of pace from the polluted Seoul air.  Given that not so many people visit here, you will find the hikes to be nice, quiet and relaxing.  This is quite a different story in Soraksan where thousands of visitors pour in on a daily basis.  The views from the top of the mountain range are breath taking and well worth the distant hikes to the top.  I highly recommend this place as an alternative to the well known Korean giants.rr

So, while it is not as famous, or up to scale with some of the other Korean mountains, Taebaek is a worth wild Endeavour.  Anyone willing to take the time to deviate from the road most traveled will find this to be a relaxing, soothing and breathtaking experience!


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