Korea, located on the Korean Peninsula in North-East Asia, consists of two separate states – North Korea and South Korea. What makes it a peninsula is the fact that it has the Yellow Sea on its western coast, the East China Sea on it southern coast, and the Sea of Japan on its eastern coast. Its neighbors, and only land access, are China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast. Occupying a land mass of over 84,000 square miles, Korea has a mixture of plains, mountains, and coastlines. The combination of such varied geography provides many elements to consider when analyzing Korea’s physical environment. This essay will seek to provide a general understanding of the geography, climatology, and biogeography of the components that make up Korea’s physical environment.
The northern and eastern part of the Korean Peninsula terrain is covered with both high and low mountains. Baekdudaegan, the mountain range that runs along the eastern portion of the peninsula, contains some of the highest elevations in Korea. Mount Sobaek, Mount Kumgang, Mount Seorak, Mount Taebaek, and Mount Jiri are all part of the Baekdudaegan mountain range. Just north of this chain of mountains, through which the border with China runs, is Mount Paektu, the highest mountain in Korea. Running in a northwesterly direction, and very much perpendicular to the Baekdudaegan mountain range, are a series of lower mountains. Though most of Korea’s mountains were formed by volcanic activity there are no active volcanoes in Korea. However, the existence of hot springs throughout the peninsula serves as an indicator to low-level volcanic activity.
With almost seventy percent of the Korean Peninsula covered in mountains, rivers and plains become the secondary predominant land feature. Due to the higher elevations being on the eastern side of the peninsula, most rivers run in a westerly direction. Some of the more important rivers include the Amnok, the Chongchon, the Geum, the Han, the Taedong, and the Yeongsan Rivers. However, two other notable rivers, the Nakdong River and the Seomjin River, have southbound river flows. Korea’s rivers, characterized as broad and shallow, have created plains between the mountain ranges that provide ideal conditions for the cultivation of rice.
From a military standpoint, Korea’s topography, dominated by the various mountain ranges, make movement of tactical vehicles difficult. Furthermore, the rivers may provide for inland transportation but these cannot become a reliable source due to the varying degrees of waterfall. On the other hand, the seas surrounding the peninsula provide for optimal opportunities for naval maneuvers.
Even though Korea has four distinct seasons, the climate does change drastically. Winters are characterized as cold, dry, and long while the summers are hot, humid, and short. The other two seasons, spring and fall, are short but provide better weather. The southern portion of the peninsula does experience...