My research-paper on the Baekdu-daegan Region as Korea's
fresh & green Multi-faith Pilgrimage-Tourism Destination
Published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization
in its  
"Religious Tourism in Asia and the Pacific"  Report
April  2011
This monumental new one-volume academic-report "Religious Tourism in Asia and the Pacific"
has been published by the
United Nations World Tourism Organization, containing my research-paper on the
Baekdu-daegan Region as a fresh and "green" uniquely-muliti-faith pilgrimage-tourism destination for South
Korea as one of its chapters.  See: to download it as .pdf files and to buy the actual printed book.
The Burgeoning of the Baekdu-daegan Trail into a New
Religious-Pilgrimage Tourism Asset of South Korea

by Professor David A. Mason

Cultural Tourism Contents Department,  Hotel-Tourism Management College
Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea

Submitted to the UNWTO in September, 2009
My Abstract:

This research paper is a case-study of the Baekdu-daegan long-distance-hiking Trail, which was
previously non-existent for all practical purposes and relatively little-known even among Koreans
themselves, emerging only within the past two decades and still virtually unknown to the
international community. However, it is currently burgeoning into public attention as an adventure-
hiking tourism route, with potential to become a significant religious-pilgrimage tourism destination-
attraction of the Republic of Korea, or for domestic and foreign inbound tourist markets.

This paper begins with a review of relevant theory of emerging religious-pilgrimage routes as
tourism assets all over the world, and then a brief overview of the history and characteristics of the
Baekdu-daegan, the unbroken crest of a mountain range that runs the length of the Korean
Peninsula, and the trail that now runs along it. Within South Korea it has become a viable and nearly-
continuous adventure-hiking route in the past two decades, almost 700 km long, with a very high
density of religious sites and multi-religious and spiritual pilgrimage opportunities. This paper then
offers a very preliminary listing of the many different stakeholders involved in the development of this
route as a uniquely trans-national tourism site, based on the author’s 20 years of reading,
observation and experience.

The Baekdu-daegan Range of Mountains is now fairly well-known to Koreans as “the spine of the
nation”, having been revered by cultural-nationalists as a symbol of national unity, identity and vital
energy for more than 1100 years; however, it is virtually unknown to the rest of the world. Today it
offers trekkers spectacular natural scenery featuring sweeping views; and for spiritually-oriented
tourists, it is also uniquely rich with temples, shrines and monuments of four great Asian religious
traditions: Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism and Shamanism. In this variety of different religions
available to view and experience along the way, it may be unique among the “pilgrimage trails” of
the world. It is not yet known about in the international tourism market, and this project is producing
the first written studies in English of its emergence as a potential tourism attraction for Korea,
preliminary-level exploration of the conflicting and parallel interests of the various stakeholders
involved, and the extremely high level of religious and cultural heritage that it offers.

Keywords:  Baekdu-daegan, Korea, religious tourism, long-distance hiking trail, pilgrimage, Buddhism,
                    Neo Confucianism, Daoism, Shamanism, stakeholders