In Korean "kuwol" means "September", and this name indicates beauty of autumn mapple trees in mountain. An official nature reserve since the 1970th, Mt.Kuwol is visited by half a million local tourists each year. Being listed as one of the five celebrated mountains of the DPRK, along with Paektu, Kumgang, Myohyang, and Chilbo, Kuwol has been out of radar for most Western tourists.
In 2003 however it was listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve to protect “typical forest ecosystem of Korea which survived the damages of the Korean War”. In the biosphere reserve is also one of Korea’s most important rice producing areas, and the base rich in medicinal herbs such as ginseng.Mt. Kuwol has remains associated with Tangun - legendary founder of Korean nation, dolment of the Bronze Age, old tombs, Buddhist temples. The mountain is a major summer resort in North Korea, attracting many domestic tourists.
The highest peak of the mountain - the highest point in the short Kuwol range - is the 954 m Sahwang peak. Sahwang is looped by the remains of the 5.2 km Kuwol Mountain fort, built during the Koguryo dynasty (277 BC – AD 668). Also around Sahwang is the Samsong Pleasure Ground. The site is sprinkled with relics such as fortresses, temples, historics houses and tombs, related to the early development of Korea as well as to the origins of Buddhism. 9th-century Woljong Temple, rebuilt in the 15th century, hides in the southern Jol Valley, east of Asa peak. The restored Samsong Temple was originally dedicated to Korea’s spiritual founder Tangun.
The mountain of Sokdamgugok (“nine valleys of pools and rocks”) sits on the River Sokdam, 12 km north of Haeju. In the Unbyong Valley (namely, the finest among nine valleys) sits the 15th-century Sohyon Academy.
There are several scenic routes through the mountain area. Natural attractions include rock formations, waterfalls and natural pools. Much of the mountain is covered by mixed broadleaf and coniferous forest and protected in an 18,000 ha. Some 1100 ha has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area
Three seasons in Mt. Kuwol
There are 2 major ways to get to Mt.Kuwol from Pyongyang:
It is one of the 5 celebrated mountains of Korea magnificently soaring on the border of Unryul, Anak, Samchon and Unchon counties of South Hwanghae Province. Such famous Tanphung, Phaldam, Jiwonphokpho and Jonggok Valleys have been developed, and there are revolutionary sites and places of historical interest including the Kuwolsansong Revolutionary Site and the Woljong Temple
Mt. Jangsu: It is called “Hwanghae Kumgang” and “queen of valley beauty” because of its beauty. The name “Jangsu” means “longevity” because in the past the inhabitants in the mountain lived long drinking clear water and breathing fresh air. The mountain is 745 m above sea level, 61 kilometers from east to west and 10 km from north to south. The Jangsusan Pleasure Ground has 12 valleys with unique scenic spots and natural objects preserved with public interest as well as interesting legends.
Jonggok Valley: It is a scenic spot in the southeast of Mt. Kuwol. The valley is impressive because its dense forest, gigantic rocks, waterfalls and ponds boast of their own beauties. Unique Ryongyon Falls are found 2 km up from the entrance. Around Mt. Kuwol are the Sinchon Museum, Anak Tomb No.3 and a vast Chongchun Orchard of Kwail county.
It is historic Budhist temple which was built against the Asa Peak during the Koguryo dynasty. The temple consists of Manse Pavilion, Myongbu Hall, Suwol Hall and other auxiliary buildings around Kuknakbo Temple. Kuknakbo Temple was built in 846 and the Manse Pavilion in 881
In Korean it means "three spirits shrine": Tangun - legendary founder of Korean nation; his father - Hwanung; and grandfather - Hwanin. The temple was built at the end of Koryo dynasty to hold memorial services for Tangun. There are Samsong, Yanghyon and Yongbin Halls in Samsong.
Tanphung Valley (Autumn Tints Valley): It is a scenic spot on the western slope of Mt. Kuwol. It is the deepest and most beautiful valleys of Mt. Kuwol. There are Madang, Samhyongje, Toebak, Kama and Paemjango Ponds, Chadae Falls and places of historical interest like the Woljong Temple section
Jiwonphokpho Valley: The valley is located 3 km away from Tanphung Valley on the way to the Susamthae Ridge. The valley is not very long but the scenery is excellent for its thick woods resembling virgin forest and majestic waterfalls. The Jiwon Falls is the most spectacular in the valley.
King Kongukwon's Mausoleum (also known as Anak Tomb No. 3) is a part of The Complex of Koguryeo Tombs. In July 2004, The Complex of Koguryeo Tombs became the first UNESCO World Heritage site in the DPRK. The site consists of 30 individual tombs from the later Koguryeo kingdom, one of Three Kingdoms of Korea. King Kongukwon's Mausoleum was discovered in 1949 with valuable treasures having been stolen, but murals were kept in good condition.
King Kongukwon's Mausoleum has wall paintings. There are over 10,000 Koguryeo tombs overall, but only about 90 of those unearthed in China and Korea have wall paintings. The Complex of Koguryeo Tombs inscribed on the World Heritage List contains the majority of these tombs with wall paintings. It is thought that the complex was used as a burial site for kings, queens and other members of the royal family. The paintings found on the tombs offer a unique insight into the everyday life of the Koguryeo period.