By Kim Jeong-tai
Korea is geomorphologically characterized
by abundant hills and mountains, which occupy nearly 70% of
its territory. Low hills, mostly located in the S and W, give
way gradually to increasingly higher mountains toward the
E and the N, the highest terrain rising in the NE area.
the whole, the W and S slopes of the Korean peninsula are
gentle with various flatlands, low hills and basins developed
along several large rivers, while the E slope is quite steep
with no significant rivers and plains because mountains are
everywhere close to the E coast. The W and S coasts are repeatedly
indented and there are innumerable islands, while the E coastline
is generally straight with few islands.
The Korean mountains risen in ranges in 2 major directions
with form the skeleton of the peninsula.
The most remarkable
range is the Taebaek mountains, which run in a NS(or peninsula)
direction along the E coast. It constitutes the drainage divide
between the W and the E slopes. Mt Sorak(1708m) and Mt Taebaek(1546m)
are located along this dividing the ridge.
The former in particular
is renowned for its beauty with various spectacular landforms
carved out of granite masses: a series of rocky pinnacles
|the sky, deep and narrow canyons bordered by nearly
vertical, granite walls, various well-developed joint systems
shown in the valleys in terms of boulders, larger blocks of
rock, numerous waterfalls, cascades and rapids along clean
streams and so on.
The peninsula is a rather stable land mass in spite of its
proximity to the Japanese archipelago so that Korea has neither
active volcanoes nor significant earthquakes nowadays.
there are some extinct ones like Mts Paekdu and Sojin-bong,
which are believed to have been formed during late Tertiary
or early Quarternary.
The former is famous for its enormous
crater lake called Chonji, meaning 'Heavenly Lake'. Mt Halla
(1950m) on Cheju Island, the highest peak in S Korea, has
a record of eruption as recent as sometime in the middle of
Koryo Dynasty period. It has become a typical attraction for
alpinists as well as tourists from abroad.