Since the Gangwon-do region belongs to a monsoon climate zone, it is cold and largely dry during the winter times as influenced by the continental climate, while it is hot and humid with lots of rain during the summer as influenced by the oceanic climate. During the dry and clear climate spells of the spring and fall seasons, many forest fires, small and large, occur in the mountainous areas covered with thick forests. The provincial and National Park authorities have been preventative measures to reduce the number of fires, with some success.
Furthermore, as Gangwon-do is diversified in its geological conditions, the climate conditions are particularly peculiar according to where the regions are located, considering the Taebaek Mountain Range which divides it nto the Inland Zone, the Seaside Zone and Mountainous Zone.
The Yeongseo inland regions vary greatly in average temperature due to being affected by the continental climate which alternates between severe cold and intense heat. The seaside regions in Yeongdong, however, enjoy relatively moderate temperatures, as the temperature differences throughout the year do not fluctuate so much, which can be attributed to the warm oceanic climate.
In the highlands of mountainous regions, the temperatures continue to be relatively low, resulting in pleasant cool temperatures during the summertime, but in the winter the severe cold and high quantity of snow are typical, making these areas suitable for various winter sports including skiing. In particular, in February 1999, the Winter Asian Games were held in various places in throughout the province scattered over Pyeongchang-gun County (including the famous Yongpyeong [Dragon Valley] Resort), Gangneung and Chuncheon Cities. During this time many tourists came to visit the highlands for wintertime sightseeing, including the magical winter scenery.
Ground transportation between the Yeongdong and Yeongseo regions is sometimes inconvenient (especially in the winter), since it requires going over high mountains passes such as the Daegwanryeong Misiryeong, Jinburyeong and Hangyeryeong. However, the views, from these thousand-meter passes, of the high mountains and deep valleys are truly beautiful sights. Gangwon-do's highway infrastructure is constantly being upgraded, so that driving the trans-Taebaek routes is getting safer and faster.
The Taebaek Mountain Range steeply declines on its eastern side, which results in narrow plains along the seaside, while the western slopes of the Taebaek gently incline towards the lowland Seoul and Gyeonggi-do regions. The highlands of Yeongseo (west of the range) are mostly developed with high-altitude-type farm fields, which are different than sea-level fields.
Many small springs rise up in the many high-mountain villages and gorges in this province, they collect into clean streams and the origins of great rivers like the Han-gang and Nakdonggang, the main water sources of the Korean nation. This is why our province was granted the auspicious name "Gangwon," which means "Origin of the Rivers."
Most importantly for Gangwon-do, the twin great waterways Namhangang [South Han River] and Bukhangang [North Han River] gather in the Taebaek Mountain Range and flow westwards, uniting just before Seoul. The upper reaches of these rivers run through narrow scenic gorges that are ideal for tourism activities, while their lower reaches have naturally become densely developed.
The upstream watershed of the Bukhangang is in or near the DMZ, and the ordinary population is not permitted to live there, because of the current North-South conflict. In this area, various species of fish can be found (including some that are unique to Korea), and the stream's ecological system is well preserved, as the purity of water is kept clean by careful observation and strict regulations.
It flows into the Dam of Peace, the Hwacheon-Chuncheon Dam, Soyanggang Multipurpose Dam and Euiam Dam, and then down to various dams in Gyeonggi Province, and is the source of clean drinking water for tens of millions of people. In addition, the Namhan-gang is a source of industrial electricity at the Yeongwol Thermal Power Station.
Gangwon-do, located in the central eastern region of the Korean Peninsula, contains lots of mountains from the main ranges of the Taebaek Mountain Range and several small and large branches. Thus, it has been called Yeongdong for the east side of the Taebaek Mountain Range and Yeongseo for the west side. The eastern boundary meets the sea along the coast and the western boundary faces Seoul, and the southern boundary is connected with other regions. The northern part, which is crossed by the demilitarized zone, meets another part of Gangwon-do, called Buk-Gangwon-do. Because of these geographical features, it is the gateway for overland tours to Geumgangsan and the departing base for cruiseships to Baekdusan.
Gangwon-do is a monsoon climate and has four clearly-divided seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter. The beauty of the various seasons plays a remarkabl role in the abundant natural environment of Gangwon-do. There are a variety of well-developed leisure sports providing a pleasant experience for every season. In particular, winter is the best season to enjoy winter sports, with the abundance of snow, the mountains and fields in Gangwon-do become a skier’s paradise.