By Jeongnam Kim
(Former Senior Presidential Secretary for Education·Culture·Society, World Korean News advisor)
This expression was originated from a book titled "San Gyeong Pyo." or a book of mountain scenes published in 1769 by a Silhak scholar named Sin Gyeong Jun in the years of King Yong-jo. This is a book of geography which shows a manifestly arranged figure of all the main maintain range and 13 branches. The largest and longest of the major mountains range from Mt. Baekdu in the north to Mt. Jiri in the south of the Korean peninsula is called Baekdudaegan.
Based on the "San Gyeong Pyo," which takes Baekdudaegan the center and root of our land, a law on the protection of these mountains range was adopted in 2003. This law defines the Baekdudaegan as a big mountains range that originates from Mt. Baekdu, and runs through Mt. Geumgang, Mt. Seolak, Mt. Taebaek, and Mt. Sobaek and connects with Mt. Jisi.
We call it the high mountain that is a mountain whose land rises up suddenly and high, and the ranges of mountains and connected with one another is called the maintain range. So far it was known to us that there were 14 maintain ranges in the Korean peninsula, including the Jangbaek Mountains to which Mt. Baekdu belings, the Taebaek Mountains to which belong Mt. Sorak and Mt. Odaesan, and the Sobaek Mountains that includes Mt. Sokri and Mt.Jiri.
However, a mountains range has to be a number of mountains connected one another without any disconnection, but it was lately pointed out that some of the mountains ranges described so far have quite a number of ranges disconnected by rivers. In addition, the people who came up with the division of the basic structures of the maintains were mostly Japanese geologists active during the Japanese colonial years.
The National Land Research Institute thus conducted a new survey taking a detailed look into our mountains and the mountain ranges with the latest technologies including satellites and other geological information systems mobilized. On the results of this survey, the authorities produced a new map composed of 48 maintain ranges, small and large.
This new map shows a large mountains range running from Mt. Baekdu all the way down to Mt. Jiri in the Korean peninsula. And the Baekdu Daegan is a branch running east and west across the peninsula. Almost all rivers start from the main mountains range from Mt. Baekdu to Mt. Jiri spanning 1,400 kilometers, and most of the famous mountains are located on this long range.
Namely, the Baekdu Daegan is the waist of the Korean peninsula. The Daedongyeo Map drawn by Kim Jeong-ho in 1861 also shows the Baedu Daegan as the center of the land. At the present time, the trekking of the full length of the maintain range is a popular sport.
In fact, when you run the full length of the Baekdu Daegan. you will boil with patriotism for your fatherland as well as your understanding increasing for your own land. I would like to recommend that our people living abroad, when they have a chance to visit their fatherland, trek either the full length of this range or part of it. If you walk the fields and mountains of your own fatherland and breathe the air with your own body, you will feel fresh of your understand and of your love of your own fatherland.