Place Name

Taebaek Mountains

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Taebaek Mountains
Korea taebaek mountains localmap.png
Location of the Taebaek Mountains
Korean name
Hangul 태백산맥
Hanja 太白山脈
Revised Romanization Taebaek Sanmaek
McCune–Reischauer T'aebaek Sanmaek


Location of the Taebaek Mountains on the Korean peninsula

The Taebaek Mountains in November 2007

The Taebaek Mountains are a mountain range in stretches across North Korea and South Korea. They form the main ridge of the Korean peninsula.


The Taebaek mountains are located along the eastern edge of the peninsula and run along the eastern coast of Korean Peninsula. The Mt. Hwangnyong Mountain in North Korea (1268 meters) forms the northern end of the range. Busan lies at the southern end of the mountain range. This makes the mountain range a total length of over 500 kilometers, averaging about 1000 meters in height.

Prominent peaks of the range include Mount Seoraksan (1,708 m), Mount Kŭmgang san (1,638 m), Mount Taebaek san (1,566.7 m) and Mount Odae san (1,563 m). To the east, the mountain range falls steeply into the sea, but to the west, there are more gentle slopes. Many spurs stretch southwest. The most important rivers of South Korea, the Han River and the Nakdong River, both originate in the Taebaek Mountains.

June 25, 1950 0500

On the east coast across the high Taebaek Range from Inje, the last major concentration of North Korean troops awaited the attack hour. There the NKPA 5th Division, the 766th Independent Unit, and some guerrilla units were poised to cross the Parallel.

On the south side of the border the 10th Regiment of the ROK 8th Division held defensive positions.  But not quite, the division was scattered all over South Korea.

The ROK division headquarters was at Kangnung, some fifteen miles down the coast; the division's second regiment, the 21st, was stationed at Samch'ŏk, about twenty-five miles farther south.  Only a small part of the 21st Regiment actually was at Samch'ŏk on 25 June, however, as two of its battalions were engaged in anti-guerrilla action southward in the Taebaek Mountains. [03-35]

The division's 3rd regiment the 16th was assigned to the ROK 2nd Division at Taejŏn at this time.

[03-35] Interv, Sawyer with Col George D. Kessler, 24 Feb 54; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (NKPA 5th Div), p. 39; KMAG G-2 Unit Hist, 25 Jun 50.

About0500 Sunday morning, 25 June, Koreans awakened Maj. George D. Kessler, KMAG adviser to the ROK 10th Regiment, at Samch'ŏk and told him a heavy North Korean attack was in progress at the 38th Parallel. Within a few minutes word came that enemy troops were landing at two points along the coast nearby, above and below Samch'ŏk.

The commander of the 10th Regiment  and Major Kessler got into a jeep and drove up the coast. From a hilltop they saw junks and sampans lying offshore and what looked like a battalion of troops milling about on the coastal road.

 They drove back south, and below Samch'ŏk they saw much the same scene.

By the time the two officers returned to Samch'ŏk enemy craft were circling offshore there.

ROK soldiers brought up their antitank guns and opened fire on the craft. Kessler saw two boats sink. A landing at Samch'ŏk itself did not take place.

 These landings in the Samch'ŏk area were by guerrillas in the approximate strength of 400 above and 600 below the town. Their mission was to spread inland into the mountainous eastern part of Korea. [03-36]

[03-36] Interv, Sawyer with Kessler 24 Feb 54; 24th Div G-3 Jnl, 25 Jun 50; DA Wkly Intel Rpt, Nr 72, 7 Jul 50, p. 18.

Jun 25, 1950

Meanwhile, two battalions of the 766th Independent Unit had landed near Kangnung. Correlating their action with this landing, the NKPA 5th Division and remaining elements of the 766th Independent Unit crossed the Parallel with the 766th Independent Unit leading the attack southward down the coastal road. [03-37]

[03-37] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 2 (Documentary Evidence of NKPA Aggression), pp. 46-50; Ibid., Issue 96 (NKPA 5th Div), p. 39; 24th Div G-3 Jnl, 25 Jun 50; DA Wkly Intel Rpt, Nr 72, 7 Jul 50, p. 18; KMAG G-2 Unit Hist, 25 Jun 50. According to North Korean Col. Lee Hak Ku, the 17th Motorcycle Regiment also moved to Kangnung but the terrain prevented its employment in the attack. See ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 9 (NKPA Forces), pp. 158-74, Nr 1468.


The 21st Infantry on 10 and 11 July north of Choch'iwŏn lost materiel and weapons sufficient to equip two rifle battalions and individual and organic clothing for 975 men.