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Gangwon Province/Korea

Recommended Spots in Korea—Tasty Makgeolli after Your Climb

Tomotsugu Shigematsu/Marubeni Foreign-Language Intern (Korea)

My name is Shigematsu, a language intern in Seoul, Korea since May 2017.

Seoul and Busan are the most famous places in Korea, where I guess many business persons and tourists have already visited. So this time, I am introducing Seoraksan National Park, a day-trip destination from Seoul.

If you ask Koreans about their hobbies, mountaineering will be on the top of the list, and there are many climbers here. One of the most famous mountains is Seoraksan in the Seoraksan National Park. The national park is in Gangwon Province, which is also home to Pyeongchang where the 2018 Winter Olympics will be held. The park is a three-hour bus ride east from Seoul.

Left: Map of Seoraksan National Park, right: Park entrance

Various activities are available at Seoraksan—including hiking the trail to the top of course, taking an easy cable-car ride for enjoying the scenery, or taking walks along the valley. So even those who are not up to a climb can have a good time. (An overnight trip is recommended if you are attempting a climb to the top.) I visited in mid-October, so the leaves had only slightly turned. If you go in late October to early November, you can enjoy being surrounded by beautiful autumn foliage.

Near the park’s entrance, you can find restaurants for various Korean foods, so you can rest after your climb, and enjoy a meal with your companions. In particular, there is a custom of drinking makgeolli after a mountain hike. I would say that sipping delicious makgeolli while eating bibimbap, buchimgae and other dishes is one of the real pleasures of mountain climbing in Korea.

Seoul is a casual destination, just a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Tokyo. How about a visit to Seoraksan when you have a chance?

Extras

If you are visiting Seoraksan, I guess you will be based in Seoul, so let me recommend gopchang, a Korean dish popular among the locals. This is equivalent to the Japanese horumonyaki or grilled pork/beef offal. In the Korean version, various types of offal are cooked on an iron plate, and dipped in salt, soy sauce or salt and sesame sauces. Adding Chinese chives and onions will make them tastier.
Bokkeum bap is also recommended. This is fried rice cooked by mixing in the remaining offal and vegetables on the iron plate.
Though samgyeopsal and cheese dakgalbi may be the most famous Korean foods, I hope you will try gopchang, which is quite different from Japan’s horumonyaki.

  • Forest path
  • Early autumn colors and a suspension bridge
  • A meal of bibimbap, buchimgae, and makgeolli after the climb
  • Gopchang is also worth a try

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