Heaven Lake

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Heaven Lake
Crater lake on top of a mountain
Location in North Korea
Location in North Korea
Heaven Lake
LocationNorth Korea and China
Coordinates42°00′22″N 128°03′25″E / 42.006°N 128.057°E / 42.006; 128.057Coordinates: 42°00′22″N 128°03′25″E / 42.006°N 128.057°E / 42.006; 128.057
Typecrater lake
Primary inflowsprecipitation
Basin countriesNorth Korea and China
Surface area9.82 km2 (3.79 sq mi)
Average depth213 m (699 ft)
Max. depth384 m (1,260 ft)
Water volume2.09 km3 (0.50 cu mi)
Surface elevation2,189.1 m (7,182 ft)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationCheonji

Heaven Lake (Chosŏn'gŭl: 천지, Ch'ŏnji or Cheonji; Chinese: 天池, Tiānchí; Manchu: Tamun omo or Tamun juce) is a crater lake on the border between China and North Korea. It lies within a caldera atop the volcanic Paektu Mountain, a part of the Baekdudaegan mountain range and the Changbai mountain range. It is located partly in Ryanggang Province, North Korea, at 42°00′22″N 128°03′25″E / 42.006°N 128.057°E / 42.006; 128.057, and partly in Jilin Province, northeastern China. Heaven Lake has been recognized as the highest volcanic lake in the world by Guinness Book of Records.[1]

Geology and limnology[edit]

Map including Heaven Lake (labeled as T'IEN CH'IH 天池) and surrounding region (1954)

The caldera which contains Heaven Lake was created by the 946 eruption of Paektu Mountain.

The lake has a surface elevation of 2,189.1 m (7,182 ft).[1] The lake covers an area of 9.82 km2 (3.79 sq mi) with a south-north length of 4.85 km (3.01 mi) and an east-west length of 3.35 km (2.08 mi). The average depth of the lake is 213 m (699 ft) and a maximum depth of 384 m (1,260 ft). From mid-October to mid-June, it is typically covered with ice.


Names and legends[edit]

In ancient Chinese literature, Tianchi also refers to Nanming (南冥 sometimes translated as "southern sea").

North Korean propaganda claims that Kim Jong-il was born near the lake on the mountain. In accordance with this, North Korean news agencies reported that on his death, the ice on the lake cracked "so loud, it seemed to shake the heavens and the Earth".[2]

Notable visits[edit]

As part of an Inter-Korean summit, heads of states Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in visited Mount Paektu and Heaven Lake on 20 September 2018. Moon filled a bottle with water from the lake to take back to South Korea. The visit to the lake was a symbolic gesture, as both the lake and the mountain have considerable cultural significance to the Korean people.[3][4] Mount Paektu is mentioned in the anthems of both North and South Korea, and is considered to be the spiritual home of the Koreans.[5]

Overhead panorama of Heaven Lake.

Lake Tianchi Monster[edit]

Map including Heaven Lake (labeled as T'ien Ch'ih) and surrounding region (1967)[a]

Heaven Lake is also alleged to be home to the Lake Tianchi Monster.[6]

On September 6, 2007, Zhuo Yongsheng (director of a TV station's news center run by the administration office of the nature reserve at Mount Changbaishan, Jilin) shot a 20-minute video of six seal-like, finned "Lake Tianchi Monsters", near the North Korean border. He sent pictures of the Loch Ness Monster-type creatures to Xinhua's Jilin provincial bureau. One of them showed the creatures swimming in three pairs, in parallel. Another showed them together, leaving ripples on the volcanic lake.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mount Changbai Sets Two Guinness Records". People's Daily. 2000-08-11.
  2. ^ Kim Jong-il death: 'Nature mourns' N Korea leader
  3. ^ Shin, Hyonhee. "Fulfilling a dream, South Korea's Moon visits sacred North Korean..." U.K. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  4. ^ Haas, Benjamin (2018-09-20). "'Dream come true' for Moon as Korean leaders make mountain pilgrimage". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  5. ^ Sang-Hun, Choe (2016-09-26). "For South Koreans, a Long Detour to Their Holy Mountain". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  6. ^ "Chinese monster rivals Nessie". BBC News Newsround. 2003-07-31.
  7. ^ "'Tianchi monster' caught on film". people.com.cn