Go wild in South Korea
If you’ve been glued to the 2018 Winter Olympics hosted in the South Korean capital Seoul, there’s a high chance that the games have sparked a desire the visit the beautiful and vibrant East Asian nation.
With a history spanning over 5,000 years, Korea was torn in the mid-20th Century by a civil war that divided the country with extreme ramifications, the affects of which are still felt today. But this has not prevented South Korea from thriving. Beloved for its spectacular landscapes of rolling green hills and ancient Buddhist traditions that coincide with its ultra-modern cities, Korea attracts millions of tourists every year. Now that the Olympic Games have put South Korea on the world stage once more, it’s about time to hop on that plane and explore the country for yourself.
And where better to start than the dynamic city of Seoul? Bypass the Olympic village where the world’s greatest winter athletes were all hard at work, and opt for a relaxing stroll through Seoul Forest Park. Opened in 2005, the park was developed with the aid of over 5,000 Seoul citizens who planted trees and continues to expand thanks to the work of volunteers and donations. Seoul Forest Park includes four individual sections: Culture & Art Park, Educational Experience Park, Eco-Forest Park and the Riverside Park, situated alongside the Hangang River.
Stay in the capital and stop by the North Seoul Dream Forest. If that name isn’t enough to intrigue you, go for the 7 stunning artificial waterfalls, Deer Ranch and the beautifully restored Changnyeongwigungjaesa estate – an opulent expression of Korean culture and tradition.
A short 40 mile trip from Seoul brings you to Hwadam Botanic Garden. Priding itself on its eco-friendliness, Hwadam translates to “a friendly communication” and the Botanic Garden is a bustling ecosystem home to hundreds of living species.
Few gardens in the world are as mesmerisingly beautiful as the Garden of Morning Calm in Gapyeong County. Like its name suggests, this is the perfect garden retreat for recuperation. Opened in 1996 as a private garden by professor Sang-kyung Hang, it has since become public. With Spring on the horizon, the Garden of Morning Calm is welcoming back the Spring Festival that runs from mid-April to the end of May. Bustling with a range of spring flowers including magnolia, Japanese apricot, azalea and cherry blossom. But before you let the Spring Festival soak up all the glory, there’s also the magnificent Wild Flower Exhibition. Each year around 60 rare wild flowers are put on display for visitors, with every exhibition following a unique theme.
If you’re after awe-inspiring views you cannot miss Dadohaehaesang, South Korea’s largest National Park. Visit the islands of Hongdo, Heuksando, Geomundo and Baekdo where you can relax on white sandy beaches, gaze at the gorgeous turquoise ocean and spot over 1500 species of plants.
The Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games May have come to an end, but South Korea is still beckoning and its time we all explored this remarkable country.
Amy Horsfield / BA Film and Creative Writing