Hiking to the highest mountain in South Korea.

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June 20, 2010

Hiking to the highest mountain in South Korea.

Height : 1950 meters.

Location : Jeju island, South Korea

Name : Mt.Hanra (한라산)


The highest mountain in South Korea is in Jeju island, one of the most beautiful place in the country.

Jeju island is very different atmosphere than main peninsula. Location is one  reason. Jeju is second southeast land of South Korea. There is one tiny island(Mara Island, 마라도) below Jeju island. So the climate is quite tropical.

Other reason is because of the geological features.

You can see from the map of Jeju island, Mt.Hanra is located almost exactly center of the island. Jeju island is made by volcano activity of Mt.Hanra. But don’t worry! It’s now in dormant stage.

Therefore lots of black basalt, exotic tropical trees and blue ocean in Jeju island.


I travel Jeju island several times, but I never climbed until the last visit.

You can drive up to 1100 meters. So I’ve just driven up there. I was lazy..

Well, the highest in the country is 1950 meters, it is nothing compare to Annapurna, 8150 meters but maybe the title, ‘the highest’ makes harder to hike.

But finally! last year I did climb up to the top, Bakrokdam (백록담), the crater.

You can choose from several different courses. According to hours, views and starting points. We choose Seongpanak course which is 9.6km course for 4 and a half an hour. We set a goal to be up there in four and a half an hour according to recommend time range. There is one rest stop in Sungpanak course, called Jindalraebat daepiso (Azalea field shelter) around 7.3 meters away. Even if we are extremely hungry or thirsty, we can provide some food in this shelter.


Now, time to go up!! It was beautiful day to be outdoor.

But Mt.Hanra wasn’t easy from the start. As soon as I stepped into the mountain I regretted I didn’t bring a hiking shoes. I didn’t have one. Hiking is not my strong point but since I’m living in all mountain country I’ve been to hiking more that I expected.

Anyhow I didn’t wear hiking shoes back then so I just thought ‘Will be okay.’ Yes you all know. I’m pretty adventurous.

But I was wrong!! The problem is, like I said Mt.Hanra is covered with basalt not dirt. It hurts bottom of the feet when you stepped on it.  Stupid running shoes…..



Well besides all that I was in the highest mountain in the country. The fact and the scenery is beautiful enough to make me forget the pain.

Very interesting about hiking path of Mt.Hanra is you can’t see the top of the mountain until 1600 meters high. So I feel like just walking in very stiff bush. But very beautiful one.

Mt.Hanra is very meaningful for botanic field too. I don’t know that area  but when I saw the trees and flowers I can guess. Maybe because of the geological differences, there are some pretty rare trees. Well at least anywhere in Korea.



Some paths are very well made for hikers but many paths are just bare rocks and basalts. It was very mysterious and beautiful. Even Though it was very amusing, pain on my bottom of the feet is getting worse and moreover this path is very stiff. So we decided whenever we saw flat ground. That kept us sane. 🙂

On the way to the shelter was very long. It’s 7.3 meters away but all the sharp rocks and very stiff path were worn us out. But we finally reached to the shelter and they sell instant ramen and chocolate bar. We had a bottle of water and a chocolate bar but it was long gone by then. Shelter was pretty clean and well prepared. And the fact, now it’s only 2.3 kilo meters away to the very top! was cheer us up.

Finally we could see some amazing view after the shelter. Wow really. What a view! At this point you can really see the top of the mountain.

But at the same time, apparently the last 2.3 km is the hardest part. Well of course.. duh

The path made out as steps for our convenience. However there’s only way up, up, up to the top.

Important thing is, look around! Look around and realize where you are stand right now.

You are almost top of the highest mountain of South Korea. Isn’t it beautiful? All the effort is payed off with this view. But don’t forget, this isn’t it!

So we took some pictures and slowly hiking up.


Almost there!

Yes… this is the hardest part of hiking. The goal is right there and we are just too tired, and man these stares are stiff!

But really, after sea level 1800 meters, there’s no barrier between cater and us and around, so feel less hard. What could possibly be there around the highest mountain of the country?


This is Bak rok dam. The crater on the top of Mt.Hanra. I think this was the first time ever I saw a whole crater on the top of the mountain. Wow.. we only saw this from a book but here it is! We were very lucky with the weather. Jeju is island so weather could change very often and top of the mountain can be stuck in cloud.

It was so clear and clean view. Isn’t it amazing?

Hey! and you know what? We made it just 3 and a half an hour! One hour earlier than the goal.

We spend very much time on the top of the mountain. We were just too proud ourselves for made it to here. But it was getting colder. It was early autumn but we were in highland.


So we had to say good bye to Bakrokdam. Promise him ‘See you again.’

On the way down was easier… not!! Climb down is suppose to easy but all the rocks are very pointy so it was not easy to step down with all weight..

It takes about 8 hours to conquer the highest mountain in the country. It was awesomely hard. Are you planning to visit Korea? Or are you living here at the moment?

Book a ticket to Jeju and go hiking to Mt.Hanra!

Pictures are taken and copyrighted my dear friend, Weisse Schleife


Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .


  1. Andy Jarosz says:

    Looks like a spectacular hike! When we finally come to Korea, I will add Jeju Island to my list 🙂

    • Juno says:


      thanks Andy!! And yes you should. Jeju is the place where just full of surprises 🙂 it called Hawaii of Asia. 🙂 and yes I’m serious. 🙂

  2. Ted Nelson says:

    I am tired and my feet sore just reading this adventure. You do a great job of taking us with you on your hike and the pictures are superb too.

    • Juno says:


      You are always so nice to me 🙂 thanks Ted.
      It was one of the best hiking I’ve ever done. It is Korea but didn’t feel like it. 🙂 I have to, I really mean have to buy a decent hiking shoes…… Suggestions?

  3. Lani says:

    Nice place!
    Congrats for being featured in Travel Blogroll! Have a nice weekend!

  4. McAlpine says:

    Lovely pics. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Meaghan says:

    hiking? nature?
    I’ll look at the moments but i’ll leave the sweating and hiking to you.

  6. Ted Nelson says:

    Hiking shoes are definitely not something you should buy online. Need to go to a store and try a few on and make sure they are comfortable.

  7. jipp says:

    OMG. It’s so beautiful! I’m very much into hiking and mount climbing and I now see more reasons to go to Jeju Island. Thanks for sharing this amazing experience.

  8. J.D. says:

    That looks amazing! I went to Jeju a year ago and managed to skip the massive hike (I go on so many on the weekends…) Now I’m kind of regretting that decision though!

  9. Simi says:


    What’s the best time to hike the mountain? Do we have to worry about snow in December / January?

    • Juno Kim says:

      Hi Simi. There will be snow in January, most likely. If you are hiking in winter, it’s better to prepare proper gear. The best time is autumn, because the scenery is so beautiful!

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