Soktamgugok, a Scenic Attraction

Soktamgugok is a scenic beauty near the middle reaches of the Soktam River in Pyoksong County, South Hwanghae Province.

In its name, “soktam” means a rock pool and “gugok” nine gorges which are called from the south Kwanam, Hwaam, Chwibyong, Songae, Unbyong, Johyop, Phungam, Kumthan and Munsan.

Soktamgugok has been famous as a scenic spot from time immemorial for the lovely scenery unfolding all the year round, including the valleys through which crystal clear streams flow, evergreen pine forests, flowers in spring, thick foliage in summer, golden leaves in autumn and snowscape in winter.

Its breathtaking sights unique in each season came to be more widely known through Song of Kosangugok (1579) written by Ri Ryul Gok (1536-1584), a contemporary progressive figure who sang of the scenic beauty.

There is something mysterious about the morning sight of Kwanam with a large rock in the shape of traditional Korean top hat on the ridge of a mountain. The view of Hwaam unfolded by a group of different shapes of rocks that are covered with fragrant light pink azaleas in spring also defies description.

Chwibyong gives you a refreshing feeling as it is surrounded by mysterious mossy rocks and cliffs like a folding screen and there is a thick foliage above and it is thrilling to see Songae with green pine groves on steep cliffs and a crystal-clear and placid pool below.

The most picturesque of the nine valleys is Unbyong where the appearances of surrounding mountains are reflected on the clear blue rock pool and the spacious place in front is shaded by old armful-thick trees.

Ancient buildings showing the architecture of Korean ancestors add more to the primeval landscape.

Among old zelkova and gingko trees on a hill a little away from here, there stands the Chonggye Hall where Ri Ryul Gok is said to have taught his disciples.

Unbyong offers all views of Soktamgugok that change each season.

Johyop is a natural angling site for a wide and deep limpid pool and flat rocks. Phungam has cliffs of mysterious rocks and thick woods of evergreen pines mixed with maples and in autumn the whole valley looks like a green silk screen embroidered with red threads.

Kumthan has the clear rapids and the babbling of the stream flowing swiftly beneath the cliffs at quiet moonlit night sounds like the notes of komungo, or a Korean lute.

Munsan which is famous for the unique winter scene with trees and rocks of fantastic shape all around has been known as a good place for reading from ancient times.

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