Looking to travel or move to Korea? South Korean nature is beautiful and there is a lot to choose from; from mountains to rivers and is surrounded by multiple seas, as well! Let’s get into what Koreas landscape is like with some bonus nature vocabulary


All About Korean Nature + Vocab

What is Korean Nature Like?

South Korea’s natural environment is mountainous but it is very stable, without active volcanos unlike nearby China or Japan, and without the threat of strong earthquakes. It is pretty humid, with multiple large rivers flowing throughout the country.

The iconic Han River is one of South Korea’s most popular rivers running through Seoul, which you may know already from Korean media. The river is a source of water for over 12 million people and has many walkways, bicycle paths, parks, and restaurants running alongside it in Seoul. It has been voted the second most scenic spot in the city right behind Mount Namsan in the top spot. But the longest river in South Korea goes to Nakdong River which runs through Busan and Daegu while Han is the second longest.

After the Korean War deforestation ran a bit rampant but conservation and reforestation efforts have been successful and Korea has many national protected parks. Now forest cover in national land is around 65% as opposed to 1955 when the cover was around 35%.

Korea experiences all 4 seasons and has a more humid climate than a dry one. To learn more about Korean weather check out my posts on the vocabulary and a breakdown on the Korean seasonal calendar.


Why is Korea so Mountainous?

Korea’s land is around 70% covered by mountains. You can see on topology maps that the east and west are almost like a gradient, with mountains running along the east coast edge from north to south. While slopping out on the west and becoming more flat.

Korea sits near the convergence of several tectonic plates, which is a major factor in the landscape. Over millenniums these tectonic plates shift and create mountains and volcanoes which change the land. Volcanic eruptions actually formed Jeju Island and the volcano is debatedly classified as active today (the last eruption was more than 5000 years ago).


All About Korean Nature + Vocab - jeju island

Environment Vocab in Korean

Above you can see a picture of Jeju Island! Now that you know about Koreas landscape we can get into some nature vocab:


적도: equator
숲: forest
우림: rainforest
사막: desert
산: mountain
해변: beach
동글: cave
해안: coast
절벽: cliff
언덕: hill
섬: island
자연: nature
목초지: meadow/pasture
들판: field

흙: soil
진흙: mud
바위: rock
모래: sand
물: water
연기: smoke

화산: volcano
용암: lava

호수: lake
바다: sea
강: river
해양: ocean
파도: wave
폭포: waterfall
연못: pond


Animals in Korean

Speaking of nature let’s get into some animal terms! This will just be an initial look, so a lot of animals are missing here. I can go deeper into that more later with a more complete look at animals in Korean.


야생 동물: wildlife
동물: animal
물고기: fish
곤충: insects
개: dog
고양이: cat
새: bird
쥐: rat
거북이: turtle
개구리: frog

개미: ant
파리: fly
거미: spider
애벌레: caterpillar
벌레: worm
모기: mosquito


Plants in Korean

To finish off Korean nature vocab we can’t forget plants! Here are some quick plant terms as well:


식물: plants
꽃: flower
풀: grass (more wild grass)
잔디: grass (maintained, like on a lawn of sports field)
나무: tree
나뭇가지: branch
나뭇잎: leaf
잎: leaf
관목: bush/shrubs
줄기: stalk
씨앗: seed
줄기: trunk
뿌리: root




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