Baitou Mountain

Baitou Mountain
Missing image
Baitoushan volcano, April 2003

Elevation:2,744 metres (9,002 feet)
Coordinates: Template:Coor dm
Location:Jilin, (China) - North Korea
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 白頭山
Simplified Chinese 白头山
Hanyu Pinyin Bitu shān (bai2 tou2 shan1)
Wade-Giles Pai-t'ou shan
Korean name
Hangul 백두산
McCune-Reischauer Paektusan
Revised Romanization Baekdusan
Manchu name
Manchu Golmin anggiyan Alin

Baitou (Paektu) Mountain is a mountain on the border between China and North Korea. It is commonly called Changbai-shan (長白山/长白山) in Chinese and the Manchu name Golmin anggiyan Alin corresponds to it.



Missing image
Location of Paektu-san / Baitou Mountain

The name Baitoushan means "White-Headed Mountain," and the mountain is the highest peak of the Changbai Mountains, standing at 2,744 m. It is also the highest mountain on Manchuria and the Korean peninsula. A lake called Tianchi (天池 "Heavenly Lake") in Chinese and Cheonji (천지) in Korean lies on the top of the mountain. The crater lake was probably created in 1597, when a recorded erruption took place. The lake itself has a circumference of 12 to 14 kilometres and it is sometimes said that it looks like a sea. The average depth of the crater lake is 213 metres, its maximum 384 metres. From mid-October to mid-June the lake is covered with ice. The mountain is the source of the Songhua, Tumen (Tuman) and Yalu (Amnok) rivers.


The weather on the mountain is very changeable. The annual average temperature is about -8.3 degrees Celsius. During summer, temperatures of about 18 degrees Celsius can be reached, and during winter temperatures can drop to -48 degrees Celsius.


The Baitou Mountain has been worshipped by surrounding people.

The Jurchen Jin Empire bestowed the title "the King Who Makes the Nation Prosperous and Answers with Miracles" (興國靈應王 Xingguo Lingying King) on the mountain god in 1172 and it was promoted to "the Emperor Who Cleared the Sky with Tremendous Sagehood" (開天宏聖帝 Kaitian Hongsheng Emperor) in 1193. During the Manchu Qing Dynasty, the Kangxi Emperor designated the Baitou Mountain as the legendary birthplace of the imperial family Aisin Gioro followed a survey although it is no longer supported. He set a forbidden zone around the mountain, although it was still in dispute whether it was part of Korea (Joseon) or China. In any case, the Qing Dynasty held annual rites for the mountain, as did the earlier Jin Dynasty.

Growing irritated over the continuous entry of Korean people into Gando, a region in Manchuria that lay between the Tomun and Yalu Rivers, the Kangxi Emperor decided to clarify the Manchu-Korean border. In 1712, Manchu and Korean officials built a monument describing the boundary at a watershed. The interpretation of the inscription caused a territorial dispute from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, and is still disputed by academic circles today.

Some Dangun cults associated the mountain with the Dangun myth in the 20th century and helped to make it a symbol of Korean nationalism. Dense forest around the mountain provided snug bases for communist guerrillas. North Korea claimed that Kim Il-Sung organized his resistance against the Japanese forces there and that Kim Jong-Il was born there, although these claims are considered highly doubtful outside North Korea.


Missing image
Tian Chi of Baitou Mountain

There are a number of monuments on the North Korean side of the mountain. Paektu Spa is a natural spring and is used for bottled water. Pegae Hill is a famous camp site of the Korean Peoples Revolutionary Army during their struggle against the Japanese colonial power. There are also a number of secret camps which are now open to the public. The Hyongje Falls are particular in that their water is split into two separate falls about a third from the top. There are numerous other water falls which are appreciated for their beauty.

Foreign visitors including South Koreans usually climb the mountain from the PRC side.

See also

ko:백두산 ja:白頭山 zh:长白山


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