Post three. You can see my reviews of Hwanseongul here: http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=15883
and my review of Gosu Cave here: http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=15882
So, Daegeumgul (again gul means cave, so i'm minimizing the redundancy) is another of Korea's beautiful state run tourist caves. It is located in the same valley as Hwanseongul, but on the opposite side, and that is where the similarity ends. I will tell you right off, that there are no pictures for this trip report, as they do not allow cameras in the cave. Unfortunate.
You can view directions to the cave here: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/ ... cid=789825
You purchase your ticket at the same ticket booth as you do for Hwanseongul, however in this case, the cost of the monorail into the cave (literally) is included in the total cost. It is also good to note that though the guides and the webpage say you must have reservations, there was no way I could figure to do that, and it was ultimately unnecessary, but you should know that the cave tour is not self guided, and only happens a few times a day, (like 12) so you may have to wait to see the cave, if the trips are full. This will likely be the case in the summer, when there are a million people here, but in the winter, there were a few spots left over on the first morning tour, so we slipped in without reservations. The total cost was ~$12 each person.
I would imagine that this cave was originally found by crawling up the water exit (or possibly via diving through a sump) but that is no longer necessary, as they have tunneled into the cave a passage just large enough to squeeze a midget sized monorail into the entrance of the cave. Of course, they lit the mined tunnel with rediculously garish LED lights, but fortunately, this ended at the end of the monorail track, and was not repeated within the cave. Once out of the train, the stainless walkways began, but into a much smaller cave- here the cave walls were frequently at the edges of the walkway with much more vertical relief (to the chagrin of many of the older Korean women on our trip, one of which suffered what appeared to be heat exhaustion early on in the trip, and had to be led back to the monorail.) The caves here appear to be similar temperature to those in TAG- in the mid 60s or so, though the thermometers they present to tourists always seem to be positioned where they are most effected by the outside air. In all of the caves we visited, the temperature swung from 25F or so in the entrance from the outside air, to the mid 60s. People refused to remove their heavy winter jackets/hats and scarves, and almost all were significantly overheated by the time they got back to the entrance areas. We had no problems stripping down to t-shirts, and enjoyed the caves much more, although everyone looked at us very strangely.
Daegumgul is obviously a very active river cave. Almost immediately, we pick up a crystal clear stream, coursing underneath the steel mesh walkways and the first large room is a 30 foot waterfall with a crystal clear plungepool. The walkways are positioned (and mined, in places) to go around the waterfall, at the best viewing angle for the pool- on the way out, the walkway actually crosses directly over the falls, and you can watch the water tumble over the cliff beneath your feet. Very nice.
As you continue near vertically up into the cave, one passes numerous areas of beautifully formed flowstone pools and rimstone sets, with the water actively coursing over the dams- making that shimmering effect that live rimstone dams are so well known for. In places, the walkway is shielded with stainless plate as the stream splashes past at waist level, the walkway having been mined just offset to the original water course. Plenty of formations clog all the walls and pockets, all of them dripping water, and the streamway never out of earshot. The difference between this cave and Hwanseongul is stunning. After some sturdy walkway climbing, we arrive at a quite large and deep perched pool- perhaps 18-25 feet deep, and nearly 40 feet across- completely filled with crystal clear water. The water here reminded me of the water in Bermuda- dark, blue and just stunningly beautiful. Soon after the pool, we arrived at the crowning jewel of the cave, but being cave divers, it was apparent that only Chrissy and I thought so- a fantastic sump with obvious huge underwater passage leading off from the last stainless steel platform- and an 11mm rope tied off on the platform leading down into the water. As there was no background information on the exploration or anything about the sump, it was unclear if it was just a short sump, or a significant one. Later, with the help of google translate and my iphone, I was able to ask the tour guide how many meters of passage were beyond the sump, and he indicated 700. Interesting.
Here is a picture of the sump, stolen from their website, which does not do it justice at all.
Overall, despite the fact that Daegeumgul was perhaps half the total length of the tour at Hwanseongul (800m vs 1.6km) I thought it was much more interesting, mostly from an "I love water caves" sort of perspective, but overall certainly worth the time and effort to come and see.
If nothing more, our visits to these caves have set the tone for the type of limestone caving (there are lavatubes as well, but I hate those) available in Korea. Now I just have to get off my butt and meet some local Korean cavers. That hopefully speak English. :0
If you do happen to come here in the summer, my only recommendation is to try to get a reservation. Every indication is that between the two caves in the valley, this area is like disney land during the summer months, with WAY too many people.
Hope this helps everyone following me coming to Korea, and happy caving!