Korea boasts more than 5000 years of ancient history and 500 years of pre-modern history during the Joseon Dynasty. The country rapidly industrialised when it was thrust into the modern global market and today it is now recognised as the fourth largest economy in Asia and 11th in the world.
The name Korea derives from the name Goryeo. The name Goryeo itself was first used by the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo in the 5th century as a shortened form of its name. The term South Korea is common in the Western World. While South Koreans use Han (or Hanguk) to refer to the entire country, North Koreans and ethnic Koreans living in China and Japan use the term Joseon as the name of the country.
Located in northeast Asia, the peninsula of Korea is surrounded by water on three sides and is compromised of 70% mountainous terrain. The rich history, culture and geographic diversity are certainly what makes this region an emerging destination. Serene mountain tops, bustling seaside villages, vibrant major cities – the diversity of things to see and do make for a variety of unique experiences each day.
Lets explore some of the lesser known places to visit and experience in this extraordinary destination.
Namhae German Village
The German Village was built for Korean residents who returned from living in Germany. Many Korean’s lived in Germany where they earned foreign currency during the modernisation of Korea in the 1960s. The area is now a unique spot related to German culture and the story of the Korean people that went to Germany. It would be remiss to visit this region and not see The Namhae German Exhibition Hall which opened in 2014. A display of the history and artefacts of the Korean miners and nurses who were sent to Germany for work in the 1960s. The exhibition hall shows the sad and lonely reality these workers lived through while working in a far place in order to send money home to their families. At that time, Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world, with an unemployment rate of 30%.
Insider Tip – Make sure you coincide your visit to this area with a chance to sample the local Korean German Cuisine, it is an interesting fusion and one word sums it up – delicious!
Dongpirang Mural Village
The word “Dongpirang” is made of two words. One is “Dong”, meaning east and the other is “Pirang”, meaning hill in a Tongyeong dialect. Tongyeong Agenda 21 which is an association in Tongyeong gathered people throughout the nation in order to paint murals on the walls of Dongpirang-gil Street in October 2007.
Thanks to the participants’ paintings, this hillside village on the sea became a new place, revitalised by the art. Make time to take in a stroll around Dongpirang Mural Village, absorbing a wealth of vibrant and inspirational murals. Stop for a cup of Ginger Tea or look out for the local favourite, ice cream!
The view overlooking the sea and Gangguan Port is fantastic as well.
Tongyeong Sebyeonggwan Hall
Sebyeonggwan Hall, located in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do, was established in 1605 by the 6th generation commander-in-chief Lee Kyung-jun and is well known as one of the most note worthy buildings of the Joseon Dynasty Period. Sebyeonggwan Hall is placed at the foot of Yeohwangsan Mountain and overlooks Tongyeong. Right next to the hall are the remains of the naval base Tongjeyeong, which includes Unjudang (also called Jeseungdang, a military education centre for the Joseon Navy) among others. Sebyeonggwan Hall symbolises the ending of the war, the washing away and cleaning up of the weapons of war.
United Nations Memorial Cemetery
The United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan is a burial ground for casualties of the Korean War and is the only United Nations cemetery in the world. Laid out over 14 hectares (35 acres), the graves are set out in 22 sites designated by the nationalities of the buried service members.
A visit to the chapel will introduce the cemetery via a 20-minute video presentation which will leave even the most hardened heart emotional. Learn why it was built, how many United Nations soldiers are buried here, how many there were involved in the war in total. Well over 40,000 United Nations soldiers died during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 (in addition to half a million South Korean civilians and soldiers). In addition to these war dead, surviving Korean War veterans also have the option of being buried here after their death.
Make this experience yours, let us help you secure your spot on one of our amazing adventures of a lifetime. We look forward to welcoming you to one of our Small Group Tours or creating a Tours By Design private journey. Contact Us today!
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.