South Korea Travel Guide

South Korea
Photo by ASDFGH

South Korea OVERVIEW

Visitors to floodlit Seoul or bustling Pusan will unanimously scoff that South Korea's nickname, 'The Land of Morning Calm', either must be a mistake or is at least heavily outdated. The country's reputation, whether perceived through the lens of its hyper-developed capital or the northern communistic neighbor, precedes it a great deal and does it more harm than good. Sure, the penchant for technological advancement seems irresistible and dedication to fashion fads borders on obsession, but it's just one side of the coin. South Korea has come a long way from dictatorship to model democracy, and not only proved resistant to crippling outside influences but also retained the bulk of its Confucian legacy.

In fact, modernity and tradition find communion in South Korea to both cater for a whole range of demands and enamor visitors with a genuine taste of the orient. The metropolises may indeed seem a little overwhelming, which combined with the initial food phobia and communication obstacles is likely to produce a feeling of alienation, but the kindheartedness of Koreans will by all means alleviate the impending culture shock. Besides, the soothing qualities of Korean outdoors and mesmerizing cultural heritage scattered therein will work miracles, too. Muse over the sheer beauty of Seoraksan National Park, whose craggy rock formations, juicy forests, hot springs and ancient temples have brought it the status of UNESCO Biosphere Protection Site. Explore ancient Gyeongju whose awe-inspiring collection of tombs and pagodas will leave you agape for time indefinite. Or just let yourself be pampered royal style on Jeju Island (also called "The Island of the Gods"), where, you could swear, a piece of the Caribbean has been transplanted and built upon to make your holiday dreams come true.

Of course, despite its fast-forwardness, the ghosts of the past still haunt South Korea and reside in Panmunjeom, a small village that had the misfortune of lying at the final battle front of the Korean War. Now spread on the demarcation line, it is a living relic of the Cold War era with sinister military facilities, fully-armed soldiers and a swath of barbed wire to complete the picture of terror. Recommended only if a glimpse into dramatic history is really going to make your day. Otherwise, soak up the fully-fledged combination of urban excitement, cultural riches beyond grasp, and nature that escapes description. The fact that it's spiced up with a pinch of the unfamiliar makes the trip all the more rewarding.