Hike up your hanbok and dip into the soul of South Korea
W.E. Griffis in his seminal book, “Corea – The Hermit Nation”, published 1882, says, “In her history of four thousand years, this country has given to Japan, the social culture of Cho-sun (Land of Morning Calm), the literature of China, and the religion of India. And today, South Korea gives so much more, not just to its neighbours but the entire world.
For long overshadowed by its more powerful neighbours, South Korea is now re-appearing on the world's travel radars, as a dynamic destination full of spirit and surprises. In just over 50 years since the end of the Korean War, few would have thought that this once war-torn nation would become one of the top 20 economic powerhouses on the planet. South Korea is the only country in the world to have moved from global-aid recipient to donor.
South Korea is buzzing with energy and Seoul epitomises this new-age confidence. A sprawling urban mass of paradoxes: shopping arcades and towering malls are crammed in amongst traditional markets; state-of-art highways lead to gorgeous parklands and gardens; rows upon rows of towering skyscrapers are intersperses with ancient temple complexes and preserved medieval-era neighbourhoods. Outside Seoul, the bulk of the country is largely mountainous with a stunning coastline and quite breathtaking. A broad range of adventure awaits – from cities like Busan, rivalling and even exceeding Seoul in cosmopolitan glamour; Gyeongju, the Shilla Dynasty’s ancient capital and packed with an array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites; and Jeju Island, a sub-tropical paradise for beach bums, geology geeks, and hiking and walking enthusiasts.
South Korea is an all-weather destination, but springtime and autumn are both stunning for its natural beauty as well as offering mild weather. There are few trips you can select as underrated as a tour of South Korea. Beyond Gangnam-style, the Samsung phone, and the Hyundai car, the generalisations are changing. Korean art, films, TV and pop music have global fanbases. The food – among the most unique of all Asian cuisines – is creeping into Europe and could be the next big dining trend. The Land of Morning Calm is stirring.
Isn't it about time you succumbed to South Korea's soul?