South Korea's Hantan River Named UNESCO Global Geopark

Hantan River area, located in Gyeonggi-do, has been listed as the UNESCO Global Geopark. As well as the natural environment, historic sites and DMZ ecosystems are well preserved, it is expected to be highly utilized as tourist resources in the future.

Hantan River Korea
Thanks to its uniquely beautiful cliffs and magnificent rock formations, Gyeonggi-do’s Hantan River area was recently designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark; it’s now the fourth South Korean natural heritage site to receive such recognition. Hantan River was previously designated as a geopark by the South Korean government in 2015.

The area has many beautiful and pristine sites for nature lovers to enjoy, and has a special place in local life. For centuries it has been a source of awe and has many stories to tell.

What is the Hantan River Geopark?

The Hantan River Geopark covers an area of 1,165 square kilometers and is located near the DMZ, a pathway to peace; the area has long been recognized for its rich nature and geological beauty. It possesses unique scenery with many beautiful waterfalls.

Hantan River UNESCO
The Hantan River flows through Gangwon and Gyeonggi Provinces

The Hantan River flows through Gangwon Province and Gyeonggi Province, joining the Imjin River and eventually the Han River before emptying into the Yellow Sea.

The unique geological aspects of the Hantan River were formed after a volcanic episode that occurred sometime between 540 thousand to 120 thousand years ago. The flowing lava created beautiful valleys and terrain such as basalt cliffs, columnar jointing, and waterfalls. The area is ideal for geological studies and tourism.

Hantan River: a UNESCO Global Geopark

To date, UNESCO has designated 161 Global Geoparks in 44 countries. The concept of Global Geoparks embraces a holistic approach to the protection of geologically significant areas. These conservation efforts aim at ensuring sustainable development while having local communities involved in the process.

Hantan River UNESCO
The Hantan River area near the inter-Korean border has been designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark

The designation of the Hantan River as a UNESCO Global Geopark not only helps to protect and preserve the area, it also facilitates the study of related sites and sustainably improves the local economy. It’s important that we enjoy the resources of nature while keeping them clean and vibrant for future generations to enjoy as well. To this end, the Hantan River Geopark and its landmarks are protected by law and activities such as sample collection require prior permission.

A total of 26 attractions can be found the area, including Hwajeokyeon, Pigeonang Falls, Jaein Falls, Jiktang Falls, Goseokjeong Pavilion, and Cheorwon Lava Plateau.

The Hantan River Area will have to undergo reevaluation every four years to maintain its status as a UNESCO Global Geopark. To safeguard this status, Gyeonggi-do will support academic research and improve geologic landmark maintenance. The province also plans to create geological education and geological tourism programs to attract healthy and positive tourism to the area.

Jaein Falls in Yeoncheon-gun

Address: San 21, Gomun-ri, Yeoncheon-eup, Yeoncheon-gun, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Tel: +82-31-839-2061

Jaein Falls in Yeoncheon-gun Hantan River
Jaein Falls is located in Yeoncheon-gun, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

As mentioned, the Hantan River areas in Gyeonggi-do offer many unique and beautiful geological attractions. Jaein Falls is one of the most famous of these attractions; it features breathtaking views throughout the year, peaking in autumn. The Yangcheon district has announced the designation of Jaein Falls as a heritage site to improve preservation efforts while maintaining sustainable tourism in the area.

This beautiful waterfall also has a sorrowful folk tale attached to it. “Jaein” means “acrobat” in Korean. Legend has it that once upon a time an acrobat lived in the area who had a very beautiful wife. One day, a new magistrate was assigned to the area and fell in love with the acrobats’ wife. The love-struck magistrate asked the acrobat, who was famous for tightrope walking, to perform for him at the falls. He then sent his men to secretly cut the rope while the acrobat was on the rope above the waterfall. The acrobat fell to his death and later his wife took her own life. According to the legend, ever since then people have referred to the waterfall as Jaein (acrobat) Falls.

Bidulginang Waterfalls in Pocheon-si

Address415-2, Daehoesan-ri, Yeongbuk-myeon, Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Hours: Open 24/7/365

Bidulginang Waterfalls in Pocheon city hantan river
Bidulginang Falls is located in Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

Another worthwhile place to visit in the Hantan River area would be Bidulginang Falls in Pochoen-si. The place is famous among local travelers as the shooting location of many famous movies and dramas including 'It's Okay, That's Love' (괜찮아, 사랑이야), and 'A Werewolf Boy' (늑대소년).

In the old times, white pigeons, or bidulgi (비둘기) in Korean, lived inside the cave behind the waterfall over a hollow cliff that resembled a pigeon’s nest (‘nang’ can mean nest or pocket in Korean), which is how the name “Bidulginang Falls” originated.

The waterfall was used as a shelter during the Korean War as it was hidden in the middle of the dense bush. From 2012, the scenery of the area has been designated as a natural monument for the fascinating emerald-colored water.



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Gyeonggido-Korea (경기도): South Korea's Hantan River Named UNESCO Global Geopark
South Korea's Hantan River Named UNESCO Global Geopark
Hantan River area, located in Gyeonggi-do, has been listed as the UNESCO Global Geopark. As well as the natural environment, historic sites and DMZ ecosystems are well preserved, it is expected to be highly utilized as tourist resources in the future.
Gyeonggido-Korea (경기도)
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