PAEKTUSAN

Introduction

Paektusan (Mt. Paektu) is the highest point on the Korean peninsula and one of the most culturally important places in all of Korea. The mountain is a supervolcano which, due to a past eruption, has a large caldera at its peak. Inside the caldera is a lake known as 'Lake Chon' or 'Heaven Lake'.

Mt Paektu is an important symbol in Korea, especially in the DPRK. The mountain is depicted on the national emblem and mentioned in the national anthem. The area is a major tourist destination for foreigners and locals alike, many of whom scale the mountain using the funicular railway which runs up the side of the mountain.

 

History of Mt. Paektu

The mountain appears in Korean mythology as the birthplace of King Tangun, the founder of the first Korean kingdom. It was first named 'Paektusan' by the Koryo dynasty. Kim Il Sung reportedly commanded revolutionary acitivities in the area surrounding Mt Paektu which increased its important to the DPRK's revolutionary line. It is described in the constitution as the "Sacred Mountain of the Revoltion".

Overlooking Lake Chon on Paektusan
Statue of President Kim Il Sung

Paektusan Secret Camp

The city of Samjiyon is in close proximity to the 'Paektusan Secret Camp'. This site is an important revolutionary site in the DPRK since it is officially the place where the General Kim Jong Il was born in 1942.

Along with Kim Jong Il's native home, the site also housed members of the President Kim Il Sung's guerilla army during their fight against the Japanese occupation.

Paektu & Politics

In September 2018, Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea, visited the DPRK for a summit. As part of the visit, President Moon and his wife visited Paektusan alongside the Marshal Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju. The visit held great significance since both Koreas consider the mountain to be sacred and an important part of their culture.

 

Mt Paektu has become an iconic aspect of the DPRK's revolutionary slogans and propaganda. The Marshal Kim Jong Un visited the mountain on horseback numerous times in 2019 alongside various political and military officials. These visits are considered very politically-charged since they often signal a change in direction for the country.

Statue of Kim Jong Il at the nearby city of Samjiyon
Korean People's Army soliders at Paektu
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