Green List

Seoraksan National Park


First Listed



Why is it Green Listed?

Seoraksan National park was designated the 5th national park in Korea in 1970 and chosen as a nature preservation area on November 5, 1965 Also, internationally recognized for its rare species, Seoraksan is the area in Korea to have been designated as a Biosphere Preservation District by UNESCO in 1982, and in IUCN recognized its rich natural resources and labeled it category Ⅱ(National Park).

The total area of Seoraksan National park is 398.24 Km2 and it is divided among the areas of Inge-gun, Goseong-gun, Yangyang-gun, and Sokcho-si, Naeseorak (Inner) is in Inje, Naeseorak (South) is the area from Hangyerteong (Ridge) to Osaek, and Oeseorak (Outer) lies in the eastern area across Sokcho-si, Yangyang-gun, and Goseong-gun. Including its main peak, Daecheongbong, Seoraksan has a total of 30 imposing peaks spread across its territory such as Hwachaebong, Hangyeryeong, and Madeungryeong.

Over 2,000 animal species live in Seoraksan, including the Korea goral, Musk deer, and Other. There are also more than 1,400 rare plant species, such as the Edelweiss, here as well.

“Seoraksan National Park is the first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Korea and is a popular destination for foreign tourists. I wish to share the beauty of Seoraksan NP with the world, through the IUCN Green List.”

LEE, Jin bum, Superintendent, Seoraksan National Park

Key Achievements


  • As an important habitat for long-tailed gorals, Mt. Seoraksan was surveyed to grasp their population and distribution (2010-2012), confirming up to 232 gorals lived across the park including Nae(inner) Seorak, Oe(outer) Seorak, Nam(south) Seorak, and Jangsudae Pavilion. 10% of the entire national park is designated and managed as the Special Protection Zones: 4 zones to protect long-tailed gorals (27km²) and 6 zones to protect endangered plants such as subalpine plants (12km²). Projects to restore the original topography and vegetation of the Baekdudaegan axis (the core ecological axis of Korean Peninsula) were conducted to recover its function to connect the ecosystems: About 30,000m² of Misiryeong Rest Area and Mokwoojae Road(1.4km) installed for human use were restored from 2018 to 2019, and in 2017 respectively.

Good governance

  • 10 restaurants (with 1,641m² of floor space) in Seorakdong which had deteriorated local landscapes and environments were demolished and then restored after consultations with stakeholders such as Shinheungsa Temple, Sokcho City, and local merchants (2013-2015). A local consultative organization (consisting of local residents, experts, and local governments, and other stakeholders) were established to perform a feasibility study of national park. The meetings of the National Park Cooperation Committee are held more than twice a year to collect opinions from the local community about major issues and policy directions related to the park.

Community benefits

  • Since 2008, Citizen University (which is an education program for local residents) has been operated to increase their awareness on protected areas and their satisfaction with the park management. The Seoraksan National Park Office supported to build the sewage treatment facilities to improve the environment and prevent water pollution around Bongjeongam Temple located in the Nature Conservation Zone within the park. The guideline was developed to manage restaurants in Sogongwon of Seorakdong area (which is the village area within the park) through communications between landowners, local governments, and the Seoraksan National Park Office.

I am very delighted that three Korea national parks including Odaesan, Seoraksan, and Jirisan have been relisted in the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas (IUCN Green List). In the decision of CBD COP 13(CBD COP XIII/2), the IUCN Green List was promoted as a voluntary standard for protected area management effectiveness. KNPS has participated in the IUCN Green List since 2012 and accumulated our experiences in listing Korea national parks to the IUCN Green List. Recently, there has been a lot of interest from Asian region about the IUCN Green List and KNPS is ready to share our experiences and knowledge with global communities. Managing protected areas effectively will be important in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. I believe that the IUCN Green List will play a crucial role in post-2020 period. KNPS will strengthen collaboration with IUCN in encouraging the effective management of protected areas through IUCN Green List.

Mr Hyung-Kun Song, Chairman of Korea National Park Service (KNPS)

Site Attributes



IUCN Category
II - National Park

Year Established

Marine Protected Area

Governance Type
Federal or national ministry or agency

Site Agency
Korea National Park Service

Site Manager
Hae ill LEE

EAGL Evaluation

GL Committee Submission

EAGL Chair
Jong Geel Je

ASI Reviewer
Matthew Durnin

Site Summary

Seoraksan National Park was added to the Green LIst during the Pilot Phase in 2014.

With its highest point, Daecheongbong Peak, located 1,708 m above ground, Seoraksan Mountain is one of the most beautiful mountains in Korea, boasting a variety of colorful flowers in spring, refreshing clear water streams in summer, vibrant autumn foliages in fall, and a scenic snow-covered landscape in winter. With the mountain changing in color according to each season, a visit to Seoraksan Mountain guarantees a picturesque landscape any time of the year. Hangyeryeong and Misiryryeong serve as a boundary line dividing Oeseorak (Outer Seorak), located towards the East Sea, and Naeseorak (Inner Seorak).

The Oeseorak is a home to gigantic waterfalls such as Biryong Falls, Oryeon Falls, and Towangseong Falls as well as notable rock formations such as Ulsanbawi Rock and Geumgang Cave. Convenient facilities are gathered around Seorak-dong, making the area one of the busiest region within Seoraksan National Park.

Noteworthy hiking courses include Biseondae-Madeungryeong course and Biseondae-Cheonbuldong-Daecheonbong Peak course.

1. Natural Values
- As an important habitat for long-tailed gorals, which are VU(vulnerable species) on the Red List, the parks is surveyed and monitored to understand their population and habitats. Species translocation with other areas of Korea is also conducted to avoid genetic isolation. - 10 Special Protection Zones within Mt. Seoraksan are designated and monitored to conserve endangered wildlife including 4 zones to protect long-tailed gorals. - The dysfunctional Mokwoojae-Road was restored in 2017 and the Misiryeong Rest Area which had fragmented the eco-axis was restored from 2018 to 2019. After restoration, they are monitored.
- The target is to maintain over 100 individuals of long-tailed gorals (MVP: minimum viable population) and to lay the foundations to provide genetic resources to other fragmented habitats. - KNPS aims to designate 5% of total areas of whole national parks as Special Protection Zones by 2023 to stabilize the habitats for endangered species. In case of the Seoraksan National Park, 39km² area is designated as Special Protection Zones, which accounts for 10% of the park. - The severed eco-axis is restored to achieve over 80% of land cover(vegetation cover).
- The Seoraksan National Park is the key area for the long-tailed gorals with a stable population of 260, but more efforts are required to exchange individuals to increase genetic diversity. To this end, the Restoration Center of Endangered Even-Toed Ungulates is in operation. - Within the Seoraksan National Park, 10 Special Protection Zones are managed (i.e. protection facilities, entrance control, etc.) and monitored to maintain stable habitat environment. - The restoration site of Mokwoojae Road is undergoing rapid vegetation restoration due to the translocation of Alder trees, and the Misiryeong Restoration Site is conducive to recovery of functions as an ecological axis, with animal movements being observed.
- The results of fecal analysis and camera trapping of entire areas of the Seoraksan National Park confirmed at least 260 long-tailed gorals live, so the park is managed as a key area to supply the gorals to other areas. - 4 Special Protection Zones for long-tailed gorals and 6 Special Protection Zones for subalpine plants are designated and regularly monitored to maintain stable habitats. - In case of Mokwoojae Road, the land coverage (vegetation cover) is more than 80% because rapid recovery is made after the restoration project. The restoration site of Misiryeong Rest Area is gradually stabilizing.
2. Ecosystem Service Values
- To protect the unique ecosystems of the Seoraksan National Park (delivery of regulation services), ecosystem-disturbing invasive species (such as Ambrosia artemisiifolia) living in tourist sites highly affected by visitors are removed and native species are restored (biological control). - Because of its topographic and geographic characteristics, Mt. Seoraksan gives rise to safety accidents such as falling rocks, so the park office tries to remove dangers and to conduct safety check annually. Rockfall monitoring systems are installed in major dangerous areas for monitoring.
- Surveys and biological control are carried out every year with a view to preventing the spread of invasive species by monitoring them in and out of the park to figure out their habitat changes and by removing them regularly. For example, in 2019, the Seoraksan National Park aimed to make biological control (removal of invasive species and plant of native species) in 4,000m²-areas - It aims to prevent safety accidents in advance by overhauling disaster-prone areas such as rockfall and landslides.
- Invasive species are on the decline in major tourist sites such as Baekdamsa Temple visited by plenty of people thanks to continuous elimination and biological control. - Every year, the park office is strengthening its monitoring of dangerous areas by installing rockfall monitoring systems and carry out safety measures in disaster-prone areas.
- Annual activities to remove Invasive species and biological control in major tourist sites within the Seoraksan National Park results in success: they are gradually reduced. In 2019, 340 trees were planted for biological control in 4,000m² -area of Baekdamsa Temple. - Since 2015, 181 rockfall monitoring systems have been installed and operated in major dangerous areas, and safety measures are continuously implemented in disaster-prone areas.
3. Cultural Values
- The Seoraksan National Park shows off 30 state-designated cultural heritages and 12 provincial/city-designated cultural assets. The park office investigates other non-designated cultural resources and collects information to publish the related booklets. - As the best national park in Korea, it’s appreciated by many visitors annually. Efforts are made for sustainable park management by monitoring the number of visitors and conducting satisfaction survey (survey on visitor satisfaction with park programs and facilities)
- Through systematic researches on cultural resources, the park office aims to discover new cultural resources and shed light on the value of the cultural resources , fully delivering the culture of the Soeraksan area to the next generation. - Ecological values and cultural resources of the Seoraksan National Park are conserved and discovered to provide sustainable use and benefits to visitors.
- The park office is striving to systematically manage cultural resources by establishing and operating a consultative body of stakeholders (Cultural Heritage Cooperation Committee) who have interest in cultural resources in local communities. - Ecological values of Mt.Seoraksan are being conserved and identified to develop various programs and to maintain related facilities, enabling visitors to enjoy sustainable use.
- The park office has continuously made efforts to manage cultural resources by performing surveys on historical and cultural resources on a regular basis and published a compilation of local legends and resources (2019). - Surveys are conducted regularly to understand satisfaction level of visitors to Mt.Seoraksan including participants in the visitor service programs or users of park facilities(caravan camping site, etc.). The survey show the satisfaction level is high.

Conservation Summary

Outcome of EAGL Vote on Site

EAGL Summary 
Seoraksan National Park was designated as a national park in 1975 and has been actively managed to maintain its ecological integrity. In particular, the park is located at the core of the Baekdudaegan Ecological Corridor, a key ecological corridor of Korea. The reduction of commercial facilities and environment-friendly readjustment, which were created to improve mass tourist attractions in the past, are also actively underway. Recently, the park has been actively carrying out projects to restore damaged areas such as ecological restoration by removing small commercial facilities that have been used for a long time, and connecting disconnected ecological corridor. This park has already been certified that systematic management by IUCN GL in 2014. Currently, more than 211 employees are actively managing this areas to strengthen their ecological functions. The Park Office uploaded more than 100 reports and documents for GL. Through the review of the data, on-site interviews and conversations with stakeholders, we have confirmed that Seoraksan National Park meets all 50 detailed criteria for GL. Many of land in this park is owned by Buddhist temples, a traditional religion. The temple is a religious sacred located in this area from 1,400 years ago and is a very important stakeholder for park management. With its unique protected area system, its relationship with temples is one of the key governance of sustainable management. There was frequent friction between religious activities and park protection activities in the early days of the designation of national parks, but the perception of them as partners in friendly relations is gradually improving. Through interviews with monks and stakeholders, they have confirmed that we are solving problems in the park through dialogue in case of conflict. However, development pressure around the park is increasing due to the recent economic slowdown in the region and the decrease in tourism revenue. So requires active management and attention so that the ecosystem can be maintained intact.

Reviewer Summary
Committee should in future submit site visit plans to reviewer much earlier. In this case site visit plan was not reviewed prior to site visits by reviewer however site visit plans were approved post visit.

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