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Sacred Mountain Inspires South Koreans To Go Hiking In China

The prospect of visiting a sacred peak located on the border of China and North Korea has been driving large numbers of South Korean tourists to go hiking in China in recent times. 

The mountain, called Changbai in Mandarin Chinese and Paektu in Korean, is believed to have been the birthplace of the Korean people, as it is said to have been the birthplace of Dangun, legendary founder of the Kingdom of Korea in 2333 BC. Legend has it that Dangun’s mother was a bear who lived on this mountain and was turned into a woman - this explains the peak’s sacred status among natives of both North and South Korea. 

The reason for the influx of South Korean tourists into China – which according to official sources accounted for half of that country’s overseas tourist activity in 2013 – is mostly related to the location of Changbai/Paektu. The mountain sits on the border of North Korea and China, meaning Southern Koreans who wish to visit it are forced to either drive through or go hiking in China to reach it. 

Most tourists undertaking this venture, however, believe it to be worthwhile. The peak’s sacred status among the Korean people is of such proportions that hikers are willing to go through all the trouble of travelling to China just for the opportunity to gaze upon their nation’s birthplace. 

Peaking at a height of roughly 9.000ft, Changbai/Paektu is the highest mountain in both the Korean Peninsula and Northeast China. It houses the springs for no less than two rivers, the Yalu and the Tumen, which serve as natural markers for the border between China and North Korea. The peak is also an active volcano, the crater for which houses a body of water known as Heaven Lake. It is also the place of residence for the last few remaining Amur tigers, a highly endangered variant of the Asian feline. Finally, Kim Jong-Il, the recently deceased leader of North Korea, is said to have been born on its slopes, in 1942. 

About Ramblers Worldwide Holidays: 

Ramblers Worldwide Holidays are leading specialists in small group guided walking holidays. They offer destinations all over the world, as well as specialised or themed walking holidays. For more information, visit http://www.ramblersholidays.co.uk 

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