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January 24, 2015

Korea's Mythical Murals: An Interview with Michael Roy

Michael Roy, who also goes by the moniker “Birdcap” is an American street artist and illustrator that hails from the southern state of Mississippi (also home to yours truly.) Although he is no longer living in Korea, he quite literally left his mark on the streets of the East Asian nation while he was working here as an English teacher and an artist.

Roy, who sees the beauty in the “active ruins” of the city’s forgotten neighborhoods of the past, in a city of the future, has created a unique contrast with his whimsical murals and colorful graffiti, which often incorporates Korean imagery and language. He notes, “In an age of such eclectic materialism and with an ever-increasing variety of digital media and sources, I have found in the raw physicality of buildings, a sobering vestige of site and memory.”

Named Groove Magazine's 2014 Illustrator of the Year, Roy has also been recognized for his profound illustrations that explore Korea's societal and political issues. Additionally, he has been featured in group exhibitions and performances all across the continent.

Roy's interpretation of summer on the Han River.

Roy was considerate enough to take a break from his busy schedule to discuss his work, his influences and the art scene in Korea.

Tell me a bit about your work. 

I work with heavily stylized characters in bold and saturated colors. I am inspired by an international hodgepodge of religious and mythological themes in combination with a dedication to the nostalgic cartoons of my youth and the hip-hop goulash that allowed it all to simmer together. I take visual and narrative cues from places I travel through, so that my work retains a motivated passport stamp collection quality.

Roy leaving his mark on the streets of Seoul.

Why murals?

Through mural painting, I am interested in thickening the space between myth and rational thought, putting themes formerly imbued with mythological qualities into pragmatic contexts. In an age of such eclectic materialism and with an ever-increasing variety of digital media and sources, I have found in the raw physicality of buildings, a sobering vestige of site and memory (active ruin).

These collected myths are an attempt to connect with a perceived moral past, reminding viewers that the myth of the city is not simply a collection of stories permanently fixed to a particular time and place in history, but an ongoing social practice within every society.

Roy's work brightens up a dilapidated house in one of Seoul's forgotten neighborhoods.

What's it like working as a "foreign" artist in Seoul? 

I think the non-Korean artists working in Seoul seem to really love it. Seoul is a huge city, but there is a strong camaraderie between artists that isn’t necessarily present when you’re in New York or L.A. I think the inclusive nature of established Seoul native artists to foreigners make Seoul a very beneficial place to be for a young artist.

Bold colors are characteristic of Roy's whimsical murals.

The international art community in Seoul is really blossoming these days. What is it exactly that attracts creatives like yourself to Korea's capital?

As a street artist, there is an entire neighborhood [in Korea] being deconstructed every other month so there’s always a waiting canvas. Seoul also provides a couple legal places to practice graffiti, which is awesome. Art stores are great, gallery shows are fun, graffiti artists are friendly, and there’s a really low chance of getting mugged if you’re painting late at night.

Do you feel that there are more opportunities to make a name for yourself as an artist in Korea, compared to other places? 

There are different opportunities wherever you go so saying there are more or less compared to say Memphis or Chicago might be impossible to quantify. I’ll say in general large cities are beneficial and there might be a bonus early in your career for being a novelty.

I might be more likely to get into a show at times because my inclusion will make it “international” for instance, but that boost won’t carry you into being a full time artist in Seoul. I’d say there’s a ceiling if you don’t learn Korean. Most foreigners I know are amazingly lazy on that point so they might hit a career limit. If someone wants to make a run as a career artist in Seoul I think they have as much opportunity as any other Seoul based artist so long as they can speak to their potential Korean patrons.

For more information on Michael, and to see his complete collection of works, check out his digital channels:

Instagram: Follow @birdcap
Facebook: Like it
Tumblr: Check it out
Website: Click away

Interview by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. All images courtesy of Michael Roy.

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January 20, 2015

A "Zen"-Course Lunch at Barugongyang Buddhist Temple Food Restaurant

Barugongyang offers up authentic Buddhist temple cuisine using only fresh, local ingredients. Read on for my personal review of the restaurant's peaceful atmosphere and thoughtful course meals.

It's only been fairly recently that we've learned how eating greener and cleaner rather than focusing on calorie and fat counts can positively affect the health of our bodies and minds. With trends like CSAs, detox diets and green smoothies becoming all the rage in the nutrition world, we're taking a step forward toward healthier lives.

However, the Buddhist monks of Korea have been slightly ahead of this trend. And by slightly I mean by hundreds of years.

Strictly vegetarian, Korean Buddhist temple cuisine uses only natural flavoring agents such as kelp, mushroom, wild sesame seeds and raw soy bean powder to assist in maintaining nutritional balance while at the same time delivering a simple, clean taste. Moreover, the food lacks the ingredients usually found in Korean cuisine such as onion, garlic and chili powder; I mean, can you imagine Korean food without this holy trinity of ingredients?!?!

Temple food also utilizes medicinal plants from local forests and mountains and focuses on using every part of the ingredient, as to waste nothing. This includes using the water used to wash vegetables and rice as a base for soups, and incorporating even the seemingly inedible parts of the ingredients into the dish. This "complete consumption" ideal is also followed in temple complexes, where monks only take as much as they can eat during meal times.

Situated on the fifth floor of the Temple Stay headquarters, just across the street from Seoul's iconic Jogyesa Temple, is Barugongyang (which is also known as Baru, as well as Balwoo). Adorned with minimalist furnishings in natural color schemes and surrounded in floor to ceiling windows which let in plenty of light, the restaurant exudes a relaxing atmosphere. Separated into two dining areas -- Western-style tables and traditional floor seating -- the restaurant expertly balances the old and new.

On the menu is a variety of pre-fixed seasonal course meals that start at ₩27,000, each offering up an eclectic sampling of dishes commonly found in formal monastic meals.

My friend and I began our 10-course lunch with a small bowl of smooth pumpkin juk (porridge) garnished with chewy rice cakes and red beans, which, with the delicate lotus tea, warmed us up immediately. A black sesame salad of slightly bitter but incredibly fresh mixed greens followed, which paired well with the burdock sweet rice pancakes, beautifully embellished with flower-shaped jujube garnishing.

At this point in our meal, the restaurant got a bit noisy. As it turns out, Barugongyang is a popular spot with the local chatty ajummas. Still, our little corner of the partitioned off floor seating section gave us a lot of privacy.

Wooden plates of soft bites of tofu, pumpkin dumplings and vegetables topped with teeny rice cakes followed. These dishes were especially bland on the first bite but transformed into something wonderful when dipped into the restaurant's magic, thick soy sauce which didn't really resemble soy sauce at all.

The highlight of the meal was the mushroom "tangsuyuk", a delectable combination of deep fried shiitake mushrooms smothered with a sweet though slightly overpowering apple sauce and tossed with apple, lotus root and carrot slices, as well as pumpkin seeds. Saucy crunchy deep fried goodness.

The tteok guk (rice cake soup), though usually a favorite of mine, could have been admitted as the portions of the following dishes were quite large. A big bowl of flavorful Kum-su homemade bean paste soup, made with slices of mushroom, tofu, and seasonal vegetables, and the earthy lotus-wrapped sticky rice with ginkgo nuts could have been a meal by itself. These two dishes specifically were the most flavorful of the meal and I wondered how the chefs were able to create the powerful tastes without garlic and onion.

Dessert was a bowl of sweet-and-salty slices of dried goodies: sweet potatoes, lotus root, oranges and seaweed. We washed it down with a cup of the most unique shikhye (traditional sweet rice beverage) I've ever had, a perfect ending to a delicious and nutritious meal.

On the way out, we found out that there is additional temple food restaurant on the second floor of the same building. Offering juk for breakfast and a lunch buffet for only ₩8,000, Barugongyang Kong is a good option for those on a budget wanting to get a taste of temple cuisine.

Be sure to also check out the Information Center on the first floor for more info on temple stays throughout Korea. You might even be asked to join in for a cup of tea with Jogyesa's monks!

More Information: Barugongyang

Address: 56, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 종로구 우정국로 56 (견지동,5층)

Phone: 02-733-2081 (Some English is spoken.)

Hours: Lunch 11:40AM-1:20PM (first seating), and 1:30PM-3PM (second seating). Dinner (only seating) 6PM-8:50PM. *Reservations are highly recommended.

Website: Click Here

How to Get There: From Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), walk straight from Exit 6 for 2 minutes. After passing the giant paintbrush statue, take a left. Walk straight for 3 minutes. The Temple Stay Information Center will be on your left.

*Disclaimer: Although the meal mentioned in this post was provided free of cost by Barugongyang, the opinions are, of course, my own.

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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January 16, 2015

Design Your Modern Heritage Wedding at Conrad Seoul

As tourism continues to grow here in Seoul, so do the reasons for it. In the recent past, tourists from all corners of the globe have made the trek to Korea to experience its traditional and pop culture, delicious food and fantastic shopping facilities. But over the past year or so, more and more international couples are making their way to the Korean capital to say their vows.

Attracted by the sophisticated styles and romantic surroundings portrayed in Korean films and dramas, love birds throughout Asia, and even as far as the Americas, are deciding to say, "I do" in the swanky wedding halls and hotel ballrooms of the Korean capital.

Catering to the needs of these couples, Conrad Seoul offers complete wedding packages to make the often complicated wedding planning process a whole lot easier.

And to show off to the public just how splendid the hotel's weddings are, the Conrad held a wedding show earlier this month. My blogging buddy Ken and I were honored to be invited, and were eager to partake in the festivities and check out the bridal trends of 2015.

Under the concept "Design Your Modern Heritage Wedding," the show's aim was to introduce a new style of hotel wedding, reinterpreting a traditional wedding in a modern context.

The show began with a powerful traditional musical performance, which was followed by a hanbok (traditional Korean dress) fashion show that featured stunning designs by Lee Il Soon (of Kumdanze Hanbok). The flowing pastel silks embroidered with intricate designs captured the essence of Korea, all the while maintaining a very modern feel with atypical accessories (think towering head pieces made of flowers) and the chic struts of the models who donned them.

I could only imagine how stunning a bride might look walking along the same stage, which was lined by hundreds of tea lights and fragrant arrangements of white tulips and peonies -- symbols of love and marriage in Korea -- by Helena Flower, one of the top florists in the biz.

Much attention to detail was paid to the decoration of each ballroom, of which the hotel has two dedicated to larger weddings. The smaller of the two was even more intimate and romantic than the larger one where the wedding show was held. And because Korean weddings of the past were usually held outdoors, much greenery is incorporated into the stage to create a similar effect.

While we dined at the show's standing buffet, rather than partaking in the sit-down dinner that wedding guests experience, the food was a great indication of the quality of the hotel's catered cuisine. Antipasto skewers, cheeseburger sliders and tea sandwiches were served alongside a selection of dainty fruit tarts and mini cakes.

Lest I leave out that the hotel itself exudes luxury and service, musts for any memorable Korean wedding. With stunning facilities, partnerships with Seoul's top florists and designers, and English-speaking consultants, Conrad Seoul is the perfect location for any couple seeking a classy, cosmopolitan venue to tie the knot.

For more information on Conrad Seoul's wedding packages, visit their websiteTo learn more about Conrad Seoul's guest rooms and facilities, check out my personal review

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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January 4, 2015

Dore Dore: A Sinsa Cafe That Takes the Cake

Just when I think I've found all the great cafes Seoul has to offer, another crops up on my radar. Unsurprisingly, the latest find is tucked discreetly off the main strip of Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong, my go-to spot for fancy lattes and pretty treats. But of all the places I've visited in the area over the past couple years, Dore Dore takes the cake. And quite literally, at that.

Part Italian bistro, part dessert cafe, this four-story establishment exudes an industrial vibe. Neutral colored paint chips on barren walls. Lifeless dried flowers perch on windowsills. Bundles of moss hang from metal ceiling beams.

The interior is aesthetically dark and drab, even though it is filled with an abundance of natural light. Perhaps this was the designer's intent, to not take away from the real star of the show: the cakes. Sweet, colorful treats that stand out in stark contrast to the rest of the cafe.

The display cases at the counter at Dore Dore are hypnotizing and lure customers like moths to a flame. Stocked with mile-high layered cakes of every color and flavor, it's impossible not to order a slice.

Most patrons go straight for the rainbow varieties, of which there are two kinds: "Precious Cake" (소중해캐이크, ₩9,000/ slice), made of rainbow-colored cake layers separated with fresh cream, and "Feel Good! Cake" (기분좋아! 캐이크, ₩9,500/ slice), a similar concept that uses Philadelphia cream cheese in place of fresh cream. Other options include red velvet, chocolate and lemon, but the cold weather had me craving carrot cake, which Dore Dore calls "Congratulations Cake" (축하해 캐이크, ₩8.500/ slice).

From the first bite, I was completely satisfied with my decision. Eight layers of dense cake flavored with cinnamon and bits of carrots alternated with thick slabs of rich cream cheese and topped with roasted coconut flakes slowly sent me into a high like no other. (Not sure if it was because the cake tasted so good or because it contained so much sugar.)

The cafe also has an extensive beverage menu of standard coffee drinks, premium teas and real fruit juices. But I decided to go all out and ordered the Irish Whisky Cream Milk Tea (₩8,000). Frothy and creamy, the tea boasted sweet cocoa flavors and a subtle hint of whisky. Put simply, it tasted like winter.

I feared being judged by fellow diners, considering that the slice of cake was obviously meant to be shared, and I was dining alone. But after looking around, I noticed the couples and groups had at least one slice per person and didn't feel so alone in my gluttony.

If you're looking for a damn good slice of cake, go to Dore Dore. You'll be hard pressed to find better. Just be sure to leave your conscience at the door, as these treats are purely sinful.

More Information: Dore Dore

Address: 544-4 Sinsa-dong Gangnam-gu Seoul, South Korea

Phone Number: 02-540-4553

Website: Click Here

Facebook: Click Here


Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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December 23, 2014

10 Things South Korea Does Faster

One of the first Korean words I learned after my arrival to the peninsula was bbali (빨리). Meaning "fast," it's a term used frequently and, in my opinion, perfectly summarizes the entire country in two syllables. After all, the nation rose from the ashes of the Korean War in a mere six decades to become one of the world's greatest economies. In general, Koreans do a lot of things fast. Here's 10 of them, in no particular order.


There are few places in the world that do public transportation as well as South Korea. Sure, the country may be geographically smaller than other nations but its efficiency in moving its 50 million inhabitants around every day is unsurpassed. Seoul's subway system is particularly impressive, with hundreds of pristine stations connecting the entire metropolis. Even better, on most lines, passengers rarely have to wait more than a few minutes for trains. The KTX, or Korea Train Express, is even faster with a top speed of 305 km/hour (190 mph) and can take passengers from one side of the country to the other in a mere couple hours. With a system so great, it makes me wonder why anyone would ever want to drive on the consistently jammed streets of the nation.


Most Koreans, especially those of the Seoul variety, walk fast. Especially the elderly. Especially when entering and exiting buses, trains, planes and boats. These seemingly innate walking skills make them particularly talented at getting seats on vehicles of public transportation and swiping up all the sale items at E-Mart before anyone else.


In a country where one's self-worth is heavily influenced by the presence of a significant other, being single is not something to be proud of. As such, blind dates, matchmaking and even specified bars where singles gather to seek out a significant other play an integral role in the dating scene. When two potential love birds meet, it doesn't take long to figure out where they stand with one another.

Soon after the successful first date, things really start to pick up. After 100 days, couples celebrate their long-term relationship success by visiting Seoul Tower, publishing a lot of selfies on social media and purchasing matching couple rings, shirts and panties/boxer sets. Territory is marked and leashes are continuously shortened as each subsequent month passes.


Marriage is another important institution in Korea and those that remain single well into their thirties and forties are considered to be lost causes. Therefore, when one begins to approach his or her mid-thirties (though men can usually get away with being single longer), anxiety begins to settle in and numerous efforts are made to rope in the most eligible potential spouse. So long as he or she makes a decent living, has a reputable-ish family and no criminal record (one of violent crimes, anyway), the wedding date is set. It is not uncommon for couples in their late thirties to be wed a few months after first meeting. Baby-making requires a bit of time, after all.


Speaking of weddings, Korean matrimonial ceremonies, despite their importance, are wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am occasions. Families tend to put a lot of dough into over-the-top weddings, if only to show off their financial stability (or to fake it) to the hundreds of acquaintances, business partners and family members that show up for the short ceremony.

The process for the wedding guest is simple. Show up. Pay the customary cash as a gift to the newlyweds. When the ceremony starts, chat with the other guests around you and take your phone calls if needed. Eat the provided meal (which is sometimes served during the ceremony). Leave. Go to the next wedding.


Korea's delivery system is a-maz-ing. There's no other word to describe it. Want McDonald's at 4 in the morning? Done, via motorcycle. Low on groceries? Order them on G-Market and have them packed neatly in boxes at your door the next day. Forgot to send your girlfriend her 100 day anniversary gift? Get it hand delivered in minutes. Delivery here is fast, efficient and something I just don't know if I'll ever be able to survive without.


Perhaps this started when the country needed to rebuild quickly after the war, but even today, buildings in Korea are constructed at record-breaking speeds. It's not strange to visit a neighborhood and see two or three new stand-alone shops or restaurants whose foundations did not even exist a week before. Unfortunately, the lack of safety precautions and use of cheap materials is most likely one of the reasons construction is so fast. Sadly, problems usually arise in new buildings as quickly as it takes to construct them.


Many acclaim Korea's crazy fast internet speeds (the fastest in the world, to be exact) to its huge online gaming industry. At 24.6 megabits (mbps) per second (whatever that means), Koreans can do just about anything online in half the time it takes Americans. And from just about anywhere, too- from the tops of mountains to the depths of the deepest subway trains. Perhaps this is why Korea is also the world's second biggest consumer of porn, despite its illegality.

Getting Drunk

Korea doesn't just consume porn. They're also the world’s biggest consumers of hard liquor, at 11.2 shots a week on average. Drinking plays an important role in corporate culture and though things are changing, it's still the norm to hit the soju with co-workers after a long day of work. Koreans also tend to drink more to get drunk rather than to enjoy their beverages (which is understandable, considering Korean alcohol is usually less than enjoyable) so even before midnight tolls, streets are overflowing with red-faced, staggering men in suits and are dotted with piles of... Well, I'll just say that Korea knows how to do nightlife, for sure.


When a nation is used to getting things done quickly, it doesn't take much for them to get impatient. Such is the case with trends. Food, music, beauty and fashion trends go as quickly as they come. Such a constant change in people's preferences makes it hard to operate a business, be successful as a musician or even get a cosmetic operation in looks-obsessed Korea (in fact, some are saying reverse plastic surgery is the new thing.)

Strangely enough, some of the latest and most popular trends revolve around reviving the slow pace of the Korea of the past. Slow food. Slow cities. Trips to organic farms, urban beekeeping and weekends glamping in the countryside. All the craze right now. It makes one wonder if these trends will stick around for a while, bringing the younger generations to favor a slower Korea, or if the now-bbali nation will continue to be one of haste.

What else does Korea do fast? Leave your comments in the box below.

Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.
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December 17, 2014

Grab Your Traveling Spoon and Get a Taste of Korean Culture

Some of the best memories of my travels involve sharing a meal with the local people. From slurping up chanko at a sumo wrestling championship with a Japanese couple in Tokyo to picnicking with Tibetan monks in India to chowing down on tajine with Berber nomads in the middle of the Sahara Desert, the experience combines the very best two ways to get to know a country's culture: conversing with the locals and eating the food.

Such experiences are often spontaneous, as getting a chance to interact with the local people isn't always easy. After all, it's kinda difficult to walk up to a stranger and invite them to share a meal, without looking like a crazy person, that is.

But just as the internet is opening doors to make it easier to book flights, research destinations and locate unique accommodations, it's also evolving to connect travelers with local residents.

Enter Traveling Spoon, a new online startup that's enhancing the way we experience travel. The site's concept is similar to Airbnb's, but instead of featuring homestays and room rentals, Traveling Spoon matches travelers with local residents to act as eating buddies and culinary guides. These hosts provide cultural experiences by offering home cooked meals, cooking classes and even market tours.

Currently, Traveling Spoon's platform connects users with hosts in over 35 cities worldwide, including Seoul.

I have been waiting for a service like this to crop up here in Korea for quite some time, so was super excited to hear that it has finally come to fruition. I wanted to be one of the first to take part, so I signed up via the user-friendly form on the Traveling Spoon website and was soon connected to my host, Boyoon, and a date was scheduled for our meetup, based on our mutual availability.

I arrived to Boyoon's modern but homey apartment located in a high rise in the upscale Jamsil district. I couldn't help but smile when her five-year-old daughter, Uyoogjung, opened the door, dressed in a colorful hanbok, alongside her brother, Sunoo, both curious and uncertain as they took me in. Soon enough, their interest in me waned and turned to building blocks and cartoons.

With the children occupied, Boyoon briefly introduced herself and wasted no time moving on to the evening's extensive menu of kimchi, fermented vegetables and traditional dishes. She would be teaching me how to make kimchi buchimgae, a savory pancake, and bulgogi, marinated beef, two of my favorite Korean dishes, neither of which I had ever attempted to make.

As she walked me through the process, she offered invaluable cooking tips: cook beef with pear and pork with apple to bring out the best flavors, cut the kimchi like this to make it appear as a blossoming flower. She also pointed out cultural tidbits about the food she prepared, like how Koreans eat seaweed soup on their birthdays and how each winter, families gather for an entire weekend to make enough kimchi to last a year. 

This event, known as kimjang, had just taken place and as such, her kimchi refrigerator was stocked to the brim with all sorts of varieties, many of which we would sample at dinner. Her fridge also contained many condiments used in almost all Korean dishes: ssamjang, gochujang, doenjang. Also made by her mother, these were absolutely divine and far better than anything I've ever had in any restaurant.

Soon enough, it was dinner time and I- like Uyoongjung and Sunoo, couldn't keep my hands off my chopsticks for long. In traditional Korean fashion, the spread was laid out family-style, in the center of the table, to be shared by all. I've always been particularly fond of this cultural habit, as it really allows diners to connect with one another, which was the case this evening.

Every bite of the food was fantastic and despite all the flavors being so drastically different, they blended together beautifully.

After a simple dessert of fresh persimmons and maeshilcha, or plum tea, it was time to go. The big meal had me and the tots lethargic and I most certainly didn't want to get in the way of their beauty sleep.

Although I've had many chances to dine with Koreans over the years I have lived here, not all travelers have the resources to do so. Which is why Traveling Spoon is a great service for all those looking to delve deeper into the country's culture through sharing an authentic meal with locals in the comfort of their homes.

Disclaimer: Although this experience was provided free of charge by Traveling Spoon, the opinions are, of course, my own.

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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December 14, 2014

Hiking through Korea’s Stunning Mountain Scenery

Korea’s mountainous landscape provides some of the world’s best hiking terrain and the views are a definite visual treat for the eyes. Almost 70% of this country offers unparalleled walking routes and along the way you can view cloud-covered peaks, city views and spectacular national parks.

Sturdy hiking boots for women and men will be required on these treks around one of the world’s most beautiful countries.

Image by Arnaud DG, licensed by Creative Commons

Jirisan National Park

Jirisan is South Korea’s largest national park stretching for over 484 square meters and home to many of the highest mountain peaks in the country. Cheonwangbong is a natural draw for those with a sense of adventure and this immense mountain peaks at 1,915m. The Baekdu Daegan is a 1700Km ridge but the 40Km Jirisan route will include 21 mountain peaks, most of which stretch over 1000m. Koreans consider this to be a sacred area that can turn a fool into a wise person if they stay long enough and it will take approximately three days to cover this part of the route.

An always popular park

Daecheongbong in the Seoraksan National Park is a favorite with hikers who are testing out their mountaineering skills. This 1708m mountain can be ascended in around three hours and provides superb views of the immense valley below. A slightly taxing hike in the same park is the 876 meter Ulsan Bawi, which offers stunning sea views to the east. This park is a definite favorite with hikers thanks to the panoramas, dense forest trails and cloud-covered peaks.

A view of Seoul

Seoul offers seven mountains with Baegundae proving the highest at 836m. The hiking trail to Baegundae is a well-used route and although steep should not be too taxing even for novice hikers. The views from the summit of the surrounding mountains and the city itself are nothing short of breath-taking and the air here is incredibly clean, fresh and invigorating.

Jeju Island

Jeju is a volcanic island that lies in the Korea Strait and is home to the idyllic Hallasan National Park. It’s here you can find the Seongpanak Trail (9.6Km), which takes five hours to complete but will reward you with the serene Baengnokdam crater lake as well as the Saraoreum Lake, which can be reached on the return visit. The majestic 1,905m Hallasan volcano is of course one of the main attractions and this entire area can be hiked throughout the year, even during the snowy winter months.

These are just a small selection of the Korea’s many walking and hiking trails. There’s some magnificent terrain waiting to be explored that will provide you with an alternative view of this always fascinating country.

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