The Kumgangsan Biosphere Reserve of the DPRK was registered as a world biosphere reserve in July 2018.
Covering an area of 262 589 hectares, it is much larger than other biosphere reserves which have already been registered in the country.
The Mt Kumgang area occupies a unique position in the Korean peninsula for the diversity of plants. It is blessed with rich species of plants including those in the southern temperate zone and the subarctic zone for its diversified physiographic conditions such as geographical and climatic features. It also boasts of abundant endemic species.
More than 1 200 species of higher plants have been surveyed and recorded up to date. Distributed here are 42 species of endangered plants, including Taxus cuspidate, and 112 species indigenous to Korea. Among them are Pentactina rupicola and Waldsteinia ternate which belong to the one genus and species, and Kumkangsania asiatica belonging to one kind and two species in the world.
Twenty-nine species of vertebrate animals (about 11.24 %) distributed in the Mt Kumgang area are threatened with extinction. They account for 27.1 % of endangered animals in the country. Musk deer, antelope, brown bear, otter, Korean terrapin, tube-nosed bat, Elaphe scerenckii, Elaphe davidi, Zamennis spinalis, white crane, white-necked crane and other cranes, and Cygnus cygnus, Cygnus olor and other tens of kinds of endangered birds inhabit the area.
The reserve has favourable conditions for promoting sustained development of ecosystem and regional economy for its diverse natural environment and abundance of various resources of nature, history and culture. Mt Kumgang blessed with more than 670 scenic attractions has sufficient potentials for developing and realizing eco-tourism.
Its 12 000 peaks form a wonderful harmony with spectacular scenes along the seaside, unfolding unusual scenery. So, the mountain is called one of six celebrated mountains, of eight beauty spots and of three fairy mountains in Korea.
From olden times, it is said that one should not speak of natural beauties before enjoying the landscape of Mt Kumgang. Its ten beauties include spectacular scenes of mountains, valleys, forests, autumnal tints, lakes, architectural sculptures, seashore, kaleidoscopic changes of winds and clouds and observation platforms, and legendary tales. So, it is a collection of all scenic beauties of nature. Historically, the mountain has been called “Kumgangsan” in spring, “Pongraesan” in summer, “Phungaksan” in autumn and “Kaegolsan” in winter.
It has Kuryong, Pibong, Ogyong, Sibi and many other waterfalls, historical sites and relics including Phyohun Temple with a thousand-year-long history, and over 26 kinds of natural monuments. In particular, Mt Kumgang and the area around the natural lake in Thongchon County is renowned as a world-class tourist attraction.
The educational institutions in the reserve are carrying on various activities to help students have a clear understanding of the significance and importance of preservation of biodiversity and its sustained development through field surveys and encourage them to take the lead in the drive to this end.