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    South Korea

    • South Korea, country in East Asia.
    • It occupies the southern portion of the Korean peninsula.
    • The country is bordered by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) to the north, the East Sea (Sea of Japan) to the east, the East China Sea to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west; to the southeast it is separated from the Japanese island of Tsushima by the Korea Strait.
    • South Korea makes up about 45 percent of the peninsula’s land area.
    • The capital is Seoul (Sŏul).

    South Korea has so much to offer, here are some of the things South Korea is known for.


    The ‘Palace of Illustrious Virtue:’ was built in the early 15th century as a secondary palace to Gyeongbukgung, though these days this Unesco World Heritage–listed property exceeds Gyeongbukgung in beauty and grace – partly because so many of its buildings were actually lived in by members of the royal family well into the 20th century. The most charming section is the Huwon, a ‘secret garden’ that is a royal horticultural idyll. Book well ahead to snag one of the limited tickets to view this special palace on a moonlight tour.

    Winter Sports

    They say third time’s a charm, and so Pyeongchang: won the chance to host the Winter Olympics with its third bid. In 2018 the Games were held at the Alpensia and Yongpyong ski resorts, as well as the Gangneung coastal area. Located near each other, Alpensia and Yongpyong have dozens of runs, including slopes for families and beginners, views of the East Sea (Sea of Japan) on clear days and some new and first-rate accommodation and leisure facilities.

    Boryeong Mud Festival

    Every July, thousands of people converge on the welcoming seaside town of Boryeong and proceed to jump into gigantic vats of mud. Welcome to the Boryeong Mud Festival:. The official line is that the local mud has restorative properties, but one look around and it’s clear that no one really cares for much except having a slippery, sloshin’, messy good time. Mud aside, this foreigner-friendly and high-profile festival also features concerts, raves and fireworks. A tip: don’t wear anything you want to keep!

    Hwaseong Fortress

    Built as an act of filial devotion and heavily damaged during the colonisation period of the early 20th century and again in the Korean War, the restoration of this Unesco World Heritage site began in the 1970s and is now almost finished. A detailed 1801 record of its construction has allowed the 5.52km-long wall and the Hwaseong Haenggung: (a palace for the king to stay in during his visits to Suwon) to be rebuilt with great historical accuracy. A walk around the wall takes you through four grand gates.

    Island Hiking

    The frequently dramatic volcanic landscape of Jeju-do, the largest of South Korea’s many islands, is best seen on foot. The Jeju Olle Trail: is a network of 26 half- to full-day hiking routes that meander around the island’s coast, part of the hinterland and three other islands. Spending a day following all or part of a trail is a wonderful way to soak up Jeju’s unique charms and beautiful surroundings. The summit of Halla-san, the country’s highest peak, is also very achievable and, in good weather, provides spectacular views.

    Hanok Delights

    Jeonju’s version of a traditional village: is impressive even though many of the buildings are new. The slate-roof houses are home to traditional arts – artisans craft fans, hand-make paper and brew soju (local vodka). Foodies will be pleased that the birthplace of bibimbap offers the definitive version of this dish. If you decide to stay (and you will), you’ll find plenty of traditional guesthouses, where visitors sleep on a yo (padded quilt) in an ondol (underfloor heating) room. There’s even one run by the grandson of King Gojong.

    Gwangjang Market

    Secondhand clothes, fabrics and eats can be found here during daytime, but it’s at night that Gwangjang: really comes into its own, when diners are drawn to the aroma of street food that fills some of the market’s alleys. Stewed pigs’ trotters and snouts, gimbap (rice, vegies and Spam wrapped in rice and rolled in sheets of seaweed) and bindaettok (plate-sized crispy pancakes of crushed mung beans and vegies fried on a skillet) are all washed down with copious amounts of magkeolli and soju (local liquors).

    South Korea's Second City

    Mountains, beaches, street food and a cosmopolitan vibe make Busan:, Korea's second-largest metropolis, one of the country's most enjoyable cities in which to hang out. Its top attraction is the atmospheric, waterside Jagalchi Fish Market, where you can buy and eat the freshest of seafood. Also don't miss sunrise on Haeundae beach; the Busan Cinema Center, an architecturally dazzling structure with the biggest screen in the country; strolling the lanes of Gamcheon Culture Village; sampling the local dessert sulbing; and knocking back shots of soju in a tent bar.


    It’s hard to choose just one standout treasure in and around magnificent Gyeongju, but this Unesco World Heritage cultural site is most likely to take the honour, not least because it contains seven Korean ‘national treasures’ within its walls. The high point of the so-called golden age of Silla architecture, this sophisticated yet wonderfully subtle temple complex:, with its pagodas, white stone sets of stairs and gorgeous, undulating scenery, is a monument to the skill of its carpenters, painters, craftsmen and architects.


    A bell rings and you wake at 3.30am to prepare for a morning meditation session. Breakfast is an austere meal, taken in silence so you can contemplate the ache in your bones from bowing 108 times in front of a Buddha image. Later, you’ll have more meditation time to contemplate the surrender of your body and mind in the search for inner peace. A templestay is the perfect antidote to fast-paced modern Korea, and while the country is awash with temples, the impressive fortress-like compound of Guin-sa: is among the finest.

    Hahoe Folk Village

    The closest thing Korea has to a time machine, the charming Hahoe Folk Village: is a truly wonderful experience for anyone wanting to get a sense of how Korea looked, felt, sounded and smelled before the 20th century changed the country forever. More than 200 people continue to live here, maintaining traditional ways and customs and even inviting people to spend the night in their minbak (private homes with rooms for rent). At the village heart rises an ancient spirit tree, the focus of local rituals and prayers.


    A raised highway was demolished to allow reconstruction of this long-buried stream:. The effort transformed central Seoul, creating a riverside park and walking course that provides a calm respite from the surrounding commercial hubbub. Public art is dotted along the banks of the stream and many events are held here, including a spectacular lantern festival in November, when thousands of giant glowing paper sculptures are floated in the water. There’s also a good museum where you can learn about the history of the Cheong-gye-cheon (the name means 'Clear Stream').

    Seeing the Border

    It’s known as the Demilitarized Zone:. But this 4km-wide, 250km-long heavily mined and guarded buffer, splitting North from South Korea, is anything but. An enduring Cold War symbol, the DMZ has become a surreal tourist draw, on both sides of the border. The tension is most palpable in the Joint Security Area, the neutral area built after the 1953 Armistice for the holding of peace talks, which can only be visited on an organised tour. Seven observations points along the South Korean side of the DMZ allow visitors to peer into the secretive North.

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