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UNESCO Global Geopark

In the late Cretaceous Period of the Mesozoic Era (87 million years ago), when a volcano of Mudeungsan Mountain was exploded, the extrusive volcanic ashes and pyroclastics were spread out by water, wind, and gravity. With time, the volcanic ashes were accumulated and hardened to create volcanic stones (tuff) that were cooled and contracted for repeated times to develop pentagonal or hexagonal columnar joints. Living things of the mountain had been fossilized with the process of sedimentation, and columnar joints created the beautiful and mysterious sceneries of Mudeungsan Mountain.

The Mudeungsan area, known for picturesque sceneries and history of the Mother Nature’s long period of time, was certificated as a National Geopark in 2014 and UNESCO Global Geopark in April 2018. Loved by people around the world, the mountain continues adding a new page to its history.

Mudeungsan UNESCO Global Geopark logo

  • Location

    Gwangju, Hwasun-gun & Damyang-gun, Jeollanam-do

  • Area


  • Geosites


  • Preliminary Geosites


  • Historical Cultural Sites


Physical and human geography

  • The Geopark is located in the southern part of the Korean peninsula near the large regional city of Gwangju.
  • About half of the City area is forested. This area is included in the Geopark which is focused on Mt.
  • Mudeung which rises about 1,100 m above the lowlands.
  • The mountains and individual features have deep symbolic values for the local people and for wider Korea.
  • It has many scenic features based on the geology and topography of the largely volcanic mountain.
  • It's scenery and symbolic role have been recognised for many centuries.
  • The climate is much influenced by the mountains and is warm and temperate.
  • There is significant rainfall in each month.
  • The Geopark is also significant for its ecosystems.
  • It protects a number of endangered and vulnerable plant and animal species.
  • Administration is shared between Gwangju City and two counties of Jeollanam Province.
  • The total population of the city and counties is more than 1.6 million.
  • A Geopark management team and visitor centers are present as are geotrails.
  • Local communities and NGOs are deeply involved with the management and interpretation of the park.
  • The core area of 75 km2 is within Mudeungsan National Park.
  • In and around the Geopark there are many villages and cultural features closely connected to Mt. Mudeung.
  • These include both ancient and modern Buddhist and Confucian temples, shrines, ancient pavilions, museums, art galleries and so on.
  • There are also a range of intangible values including various rituals.

Geological features and geology of international significance

  • Twenty geosites have been identified in the 105,136 ha mountainous Geopark.
  • Seven geological periods are represented.
  • The geosites range from five large colonnades of polygonally jointed tuff columns recording at least three phases of Cretaceous volcanic activity, extensive periglacially-produced block streams and cryoplanation surfaces, unusual microclimatic environments within talus accumulations, dinosaur footprints and trackways, and a variety of other geological and geomorphological features such as lengthy scenic cliff-lines and waterfalls.
  • One geosite, a 15th century specialized celadon pottery kiln, integrates geology and culture as does a large temple site with numerous Buddha statues and pagodas created from tuff.
  • Seven geosites have international significance.
  • The most important are an 11 km2 area with five sets of columnar-jointed colonnades (the extent of jointing and joint is amongst the largest in the world and includes the world’s largest columns in terms of cross-section with column faces up to seven meters width); a site with almost 600 Bronze Age quarries and dolmens and the dinosaur site with more than 1,500 footprints and more than 70 trackways.
  • The three geosites are on the World Heritage List and the Korean Tentative Lists, respectively. Ten of the sites have national significance.