Daemgeumgul Cave (大金窟 or "massive golden cave", or simply Daegeum Cave) is designated as a natural monument (#178) located in the Samcheok City area, Gangwondo Province, South Korea.
It is a famous natural attraction among Koreans. Children and adults alike love traveling to this place to enjoy the other-worldly wonder of the cave's chambers and nooks.
Inside the cave, one can wonder at the shapes and sizes of stalagmites, grainstones, stalactites, cave ponds, and other fantastic cave features.
The mysterious golden cave was created by the underground gold river water 500 million years ago. The discovery happened in February 2003 and was opened to the public after seven years of preparation.
Daegeumgul Cave was formed at the same time as the nearby Hwanseongul and Gwaneumgul. It used to be called 'Mulgol' due to the presence of a massive body of water inside.
There is a monorail that travels from its station to the entrance of Daegeum Cave, around 610 meters long only but with a superb view of Mount Daegeum. A guide accompanies all guests while exploring inside the cave.
While guiding you, the tour guide provides safety guidelines and reminders, and most of all, describes and explains the features inside, making your exploration enjoyable.
Yes, as it is open to the public, guests of all ages (except babies) are allowed to explore inside. Here are the practical details...
Admission Fee: 12,000 KRW (Adults), 8,500 KRW (Teens), 6,000 KRW (Seniors and Children). The rate includes the Monorail ride to the cave's entrance.
Approximate Exploration Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes (1 hour for exploration and 20 minutes of monorail ride).
It is the only cave, so far, in Korea where you have to take the monorail to get to the mouth of the cave.
Daegeumgeul Cave is found in the Daeiri Cave Zone in Gangwondo Province. The topography of the area features rocks rich with atmospheric layers of the Chosun Supergroup, the sedimentary rocks of the Lower Paleozoic from the Cambrian to the Ordovician period--around 530 million years ago.
With that topographical features, the coral reefs buried in the deep tropical sea reached their present location via tectonic shifts. Changes occurred through erosion, thus forming the chambers of the cave over a long period.
The Exploration and Discovery
The City Hall cave development team of Samcheok City studied the topography of the upper reaches of the valley, hoping to discover a cave in years.
At last! The team was about to give up when they finally found Daegeumgul Cave on their previous exploration in May 2002.
The digging started in 2003, and the explorers discovered the flowing water on top of the mountain that connects to a narrow vertical tunnel leading to an underground cave chamber with a massive amount of water.
The lake inside is about 15-meter deep is at the end of the cave, where the explorers study the whole area amidst dangers and challenges. They used rubber boats and wore diving gear, and safely completed the exploration.
Academic Study and Opening Daegeumgul Cave
Samcheok City's researchers studied various materials about the cave and planned to open it to the public.
After the studies, the Cultural Heritage Administration approved the permission to open Daegeum Cave for public viewing on November 1, 2004.
It was not the end of the challenge. First, the experts bored a horizontal artificial tunnel connecting the underground dome at the bottom of the cave.
Finally... the fantastic sight of the cave, which was hidden for over 530 million years, is now accessible since 2007.
Only the safe and explored areas of the cave are available for public viewing. Many chambers and secret places near the massive body of water are still unexplored and not open to the public.
The authorities will continue exploring and studying the remaining hidden areas of the cave and are protected spaces reserved for further research as the cave continuously expand.
If you are driving a private vehicle, you may follow the below guide. But, indeed, it would be much easier should you use any navigation app!
Yeongdong Expressway Gangneung Interchange → Donghae Expressway → Donghae Interchange → National Road No. 7 in the direction of Samcheok → National Road No. 38 in the direction of Taebaek → Go straight 20Km → Singi → Turn right → Go straight 9Km → Hwanseon Cave Ticket Office → Daegeum Cave Tourist Center.
Singal (IC) Yeongdong Expressway → Hobeop (IC) → Wonju → Daegwallyeong → Gangneung (Donghae Expressway) → Samcheok
Depart from Daejeon
Hobeop (IC) Yeongdong Expressway → Wonju → Daegwallyeong Gangneung (Donghae Expressway) → Samcheok
Depart from Daegu
Pohang (National Road No. 7) → Yeongdeok → Uljin → Samcheok
Should you need further information and details, you may visit the official website...
800 Hwanseon-ro, Singi-myeon (189 Daeiri), Samcheok City, Gangwon Province
Admission Fee: Adults 12,000 KRW; Teenagers 8,500 KRW; Seniors and children 6,000 KRW.
Exploration Duration: It takes 1 hour to explore the inside of the cave and about 20 minutes for the round trip.
Please, note that you must book in advance online. In case of heavy rains and flooding, the visit will be postponed.
For more information, you may call the Daei Cave Management Office at 033-541-9266.
I hope this information will lead you to the beautiful out-of-this-world features of Daegeumgul (Daegeum Cave) in Samcheok City.
Thanks for reading.