Juwangsan National Park: Beauty & Intrigue
Juwangsan National Park (주왕산국립공원) was designated as such in 1976 and holds the title of the smallest national park in the country, but don’t let that sway you from heading there as it’s got everything you’d want in a national park from mountains, rivers and waterfalls to tales of assassinations.
It is one of only two national parks that sits on the east side of the central dividing range, the Baekdu-daegan, and is one of the most remote national parks in the country. Come autumn, hikers and nature lovers across the country head to this national park as there are trails for the avid hikers as well as scenic walking paths for the general strollers.
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The name of the park is said to originate with the Chinese Jin Dynasty royal family. Wanting to reclaim his family’s thrown, Zhou Du, or Juwang in Korean, attempted to overthrow the Tang Emperor but failed. Defeated, Juwang, his forces and his family were driven out of China and into Korean’s Juwang mountains. Emperor Tang sought revenge for the attempt on his life and pressured the Shilla Dynasty to find and kill Juwang. General Ma of the Shilla army found and killed Juwang, beheading him and destroying his palace in the mountain, reads the Cheongsong guidebook.
From the car park and bus stop, visitors first walk by restaurants and vendors selling delicious teas and of course delicious apples, the pride of the area, as well as coffee and other delicacies. This path leads to the ticket booth and the first stop inside the gates is Daejeonsa Temple that sits with a beautiful backdrop of the Giam cliffs. Passing by the temple and onto the dirt hiking trails there are numerous things to see. The path to the right first leads across a bridge and to Adeulbawi, or Son Rock. It is said that if a woman stands with her back to the rock and throws a stone through her legs that lands on the rock, she will become pregnant with a son.
There are also three waterfalls in the park appropriately labelled as such: 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Waterfall, that have crystal clear water and are well protected from wandering tourists. Just before the first waterfall is the Sirubong Rock that seems to look like an old man overlooking the passerby, although it’s called Sirubong because to some it looks like an earthenware steamer; siru means steamer in Korean.
Another famous rock in the area is Geupsudae, a rock with a story of its own of course. In the Shilla Dynasty, Kim Ju-won, a descendant of King Muyeol, was in line to inherit the throne from King Seondeok, the 37th king of the Shilla Kingdom, who had no sons to succeed him, but Kim Gyeongshin revolted and was placed on the throne instead. At the time Kim Ju-won was 80km away and blocked by a flood. Public officials thought it must be gods will, according to the sign near the rock, and placed Kim Gyeongsin on the throne. Once Kim Ju-won arrived and saw what had happened, he fled to Juwangsan and built a palace on top of Geupsudae. There was no water on top of the rock and as water had to be drawn from the valley below it became known as “water raising rock” or Geupsudae.
For a unique stay in the area, check out Chungwondang Hanok Houses to really experience traditional comfort in this beautiful area.
Definitely a must see place for spectacular scenery and some great outdoor fun in Korea. If you’re in Cheongsong, also check out the autumn apple festival and eat some of their famous blue chicken!
Juwangsan National Park
- From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus to Juwangsan Mt. (주왕산).
- * Bus Schedule: 06:30, 08:40, 10:20, 12:00, 15:10, 16:40
- Take an intercity bus to Cheongsong (청송).
- From Cheongsong Bus Terminal, take a local bus to Juwangsan Mt. (주왕산).
- * Bus Schedule: 07:25-19:10, runs 22 times a day
- Adults: 1,600 won
- Youths: 1,200 won
- Children: 800 won