Mount Mudeung, the most famous landmark of the southwestern city of Gwangju, was designated Thursday as South Korea's 21st national park, officials said.
The Ministry of Environment, during a ministry meeting, approved a plan to make the land spanning 75 square kilometers in parts of Gwangju and the southwestern provincial counties of Hwasun and Damyang into a national park.
A smaller area of the mountain is currently managed as a provincial park.
It marks the first designation of any national park in 24 years. The government last designated the Byeonsan Peninsula on the west coast and Mount Wolchul situated further south as national parks in 1988.
Mount Mudeung is known to be the habitat of eight endangered species and eight national natural monuments. It also has 61 scenic resources, including South Korea's largest columnar joint belt, according to officials.
The latest designation will double the number of park management officials and have the state shoulder the full cost necessary to preserve the mountain and manage the park. (Yonhap)