The next 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be held in the South Korean city of PyeongChang. It may well be a starting point to take an interest in the geography, culture, traditions and customs of South Korea, a country located between China, North Korea and Japan.
South Korea is undoubtedly a very interesting way of discovering the Far East.
Western travelers will be well received in PyeongChang, although it is not known what could happen if they land in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, reluctant to Western customs and practices. The similarity between both names used to generate confusion and difficulties for travelers. To avoid these inconveniences, the governor of the South Korean province of Gangwon made the decision to change the name of his city to PyeongChang, with a capital C.
After the war conflict in the middle of the last century, Korea was divided and politically at odds between north and south. The frontier between two countries is a wide strip of two kilometers called the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ for its acronym in English). The surprising thing is that this region is one of the most visited tourist destinations of the country by foreign visitors. However, the tension is not the only thing that you will find in Korea. Strolling along the idyllic southern coasts, visiting amazing national parks and millenary palaces and enjoying its gastronomy of excellence are just some of its attractions.
The most demanding travelers usually stay in Seoul, the modern and cosmopolitan capital of South Korea. There, in addition to an intense nightlife, you will find excellent hotels, malls, promenades and high-level services. From Seoul, you can reach main tourist attractions of Korea.
Jeju Island, located two hours away from Seoul, offers fields covered in yellow flowers that contrast with the emerald color of the sea. Its nature is so breathtaking and special that the island has been designated as a World Natural Heritage and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Here, one must visit the Dongpirang village, famous for its original murals in brilliant colors, and the Hanwha Aqua Planet aquarium. Hallyeosudo cable car will excite you with its impressive and fast ride between mountains, and you will recover the calm in the Jungang market, famous for the excellence of its seafood and rice cakes.
It is essential to plan a travel of at least two days to visit the thousand-year-old city of Gyeongju, since its history goes back more than two thousand years. The traveler will be surprised by the oldest astronomical observatory of Asia, the Cheomseongdae, built in cylindrical form between the years of 632 and 647, which contains in its stones several mathematical keys not yet deciphered by scientists. Meanwhile, the halls of the Gyeongju National Museum exhibit remarkable treasures, historical legacies and artistic works of local culture. Finally, the visit would not be complete without admiring the imposing beauty of Bulguksa Temple and Donggung Palace with its Wolji pond in Gyeongju.
South Korea is undoubtedly a very interesting way of discovering the Far East. ■