November 5, 2007

Mt. Baekdu Opens to South Korean Tourists

Mt. Baekdu, the highest mountain in the Korean peninsula which the Koreans consider the place of their ancestral origin, will now be accessible to South Koreans. A direct air route will be established next May, in line with one of the agreements made at the inter-Korea summit in October.

South Koreans have been visiting the mountain -- from the Chinese side -- since the (disputed) border with North Korea bissects the mountain and the North Korean side had not been open to tourism. Now, South Korean tourists will be able to take a shorter trip using the direct route from the Korean side, climbing on Korean soil -- a more meaningful experience for Koreans. This is another concession by North Korea, which considers the Mt. Baekdu area a sacred grounds of its revolutionary roots.

More and more, North Korea is no longer a forbidden place for South Koreans to visit as several tourist destinations in North Korea -- Mt. Baekdu, Mt. Keumgang, Pyongyang and Gaeseong -- are open for tourism. However, some have raised concerns about environmental impact of increasing tourism and joint economic activities in North Korea.

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