Travel: Discover the many splendours of South Korea

A passage through the heart of the East Asian country reveals the hidden delights it has to offer a curious traveller

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A Staff Reporter

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Published: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 6:53 PM

The Republic of Korea has been a part of our everyday existence ever since it introduced a plethora of life-enhancing products into our lives — from smart phones and refrigerators to automobiles and television sets. Yet there is very little we know about the country, its people and its culture. Our recent familiarisation tour to Korea was an exceptional journey, unveiling the diverse beauty of the country, especially the provinces of Gyeonggi-do, Seoul, and Jeju island. The itinerary meticulously blended cultural experiences, natural wonders, and technological marvels, creating an unforgettable tapestry of Korean life.

Gyeonggi-do: A blend of history and culinary artistry

At Aegibong Peak in Gimpo, we were not only greeted by stunning vistas, but it also gave us a unique view of North Korea, just a stone's throw away. Our visit to the rice farmer in Gimpo was a hands-on culinary delight. Here, we made Gochujang, a staple Korean condiment known for its spicy and sweet flavour profile, crafted from fermented soybeans and chilli peppers. The entire experience was enhanced by the guarantee of halal, fresh produce, ensuring a delightful and inclusive culinary journey.

If Gyeonggi gave us the relish of the country’s gastronomic richness, Positive Space 566, listed by Guiness World Records as the largest coffee shop in the world, left us awe-struck with its luxurious chandeliers, symbolising the opulence of modern Seoul. Our afternoon at Herb Island in Pocheon city was filled with aromatic bliss amidst a plethora of herbs. The highlight was the pink muhly grass and the unique pink slide over pink sands, adding a touch of whimsy to our visit. At the Gwang-neung Arboretum, which is a botanical garden over 500 years old, we were captivated by the kaleidoscope of colours and romantic stories associated with the trees.

Immersive experiences in Seoul

HiKR Ground, an immersive tourism space run by the Korea Tourism Organisation, offered us a deep dive into the latest Korean trends. This time, it featured a Korean metro station, Insaeng Ne Kot, and a special event for League of Legends fans, highlighting Korea's dynamic pop culture. Visiting the Blue House was enlightening, giving us an insight into the presidential workplace and rooms adorned in traditional Korean style, reflecting the country's rich heritage.

We also discovered amazing burgers at an eatery in Seongsu and explored the traditional Gwangjang Market, immersing ourselves in the vibrant local culture.

Jeju: Island of natural splendour

At Jeju's 9.81 Park, we experienced the intersection of technology and entertainment. The park, named after the speed of gravity (9.81m/sec), offered gravity-driven rides — a unique concept that was both educational and exhilarating. The Arte Museum was a visual feast of blossoms and vibrant art, showcasing the island's artistic flair. This must-visit destination captures the essence of Jeju's creative spirit.

Our visit to Hyeopjae Beach to watch the sunset was a tranquil experience, where we took in the long stretch of white sand and clear, turquoise water, along with the soothing sounds of the waves. The Pacific Marina Yacht Tour offered us breathtaking views of Jeju's famous columnar jointing and the panoramic coastline, making our hour-long journey memorable.

Our visit to Ossulloc Tea House, built in the style of a traditional Korean hanok, was a treat, where we savoured exquisite teas and shopped for natural beauty products at Innisfree.

The Painters: Hero show, an innovative art performance that brings together live art with incredible visual effects and a witty mime was the perfect conclusion to our trip, blending art, music, and performance, and encapsulating the dynamic spirit of Korea.

This fam tour was a journey through the heart of Korea, from the tranquil landscapes of Gyeonggi-do to the historical and modern vibrancy of Seoul, and the natural wonders of Jeju island. Each destination offered a unique story, enriching us with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation of Korea's cultural richness and innovative spirit.

wknd@khaleejtimes.com


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