Authored by Carl Hedinger
There’s a mystery and allure that surrounds the whole Korean Peninsula. South Korea has emerged from the ashes of the war as a country determined to develop into one of the world’s fastest moving and most powerful economies.
It’s full of natural beauty that will make anyone forget that massive cities really dominate the scene. Cities are overtaking the countryside but people haven’t forgotten the importance of community and kindness.
There are so many reasons why you should visit South Korea, because it’s just too wonderful to overlook! The following are four reasons to drop everything you’re doing and visit South Korea!
4 Reasons You Should Visit South Korea
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Thinking about Korean society points me to a mental image of a woman in her mid-30s, running inside a train station towards some unspoken destination. Of buses and taxis cutting through traffic to make the next stop or fare. Shouts of pali-pali (Hurry Hurry!) in Korean ringing throughout supermarkets, offices, and schools all over the country.
Walking through busy parts of Korea comes with a jockeying of position and barrage of elbows that many basketball players can relate to when boxing someone out for a rebound. While it can be frustrating to walk packed Seoul Subway Station or any city’s bus terminal, experience Korea’s rapid pace this way and consider life to be closer to complete than it was before.
Modern Meets Traditional
New and old are always at war here and not in a military sense like between north and south. Korea is steeped in centuries-old traditions and respecting one’s elders is still as much a family custom as it is a business and political philosophy here. The younger generations are trying to forge their own country but their parents and grandparents are always standing in the way, for better or worse.
It’s not just in people where this clash occurs. History lurks around every big city corner from Seoul down to Busan and west through Gwangju, where Koreans and travelers explore beautiful Buddhist temples and relics of the past every day.
Visit Gyeongju in the east and Jeonju in the west for the best start when digging into traditional and old school Korea.
Natural Beauty and Convenience Everywhere!
Seoul and Gyeonggi Province’s Bukhansan National Park was featured in National Geographic’s January 2016 issue and is a perfect demonstration of Korea’s addiction to getting outside. This country has mountains galore, beaches and numerous islands just within reach of the peninsula.
Crazily enough, these “isolated” places still offer phone connectivity and a convenience store nearby. If I were to ask any Korean what they love most about their country, convenience will come up in the same breath as safety and food.
From well-marked hiking trails to public transport and Internet connectivity always nearby, people don’t have to figure things out or wait very long. Exploring nature is one of the best things to do in Korea.
Random Acts of Kindness and the Food!
There are moments when I’ve truly wanted to belong and retire in Korea. It’s usually after a random person takes time out of his or her busy schedule to speak with me or offer a gift, just because. The best time involved my wife hanging out with a family during Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) because they wanted to talk traditions and the importance of their holiday with us.
Every meeting in Korea involves food and booze of some sort. I’ll never forget sitting in restaurants devouring bowls of gamjatang or some dak galbi. Prior to living in Korea, I couldn’t really stand spicy food but now I’m a red pepper fanatic. Spicy paste adorns our kitchen cabinets along with sesame oil and the other crucial ingredients that go into Korean cuisine.
You might not immediately have these moments when traveling through South Korea but give it time, and I promise someone will touch your heart.