South Korea is an island with a countryside which is hilly throughout because both the city and countryside inhabitants like to go for walks. So, viewed from on high, the country has cities which have modern architecture and technology bunched together, but all the rest is nothing but nature.
Once you leave these cities, you will arrive directly at the foot of hills and mountains which gives access to the hiking trails for the population.
It’s a leisure which enables the inhabitants of the provinces of Chungcheongbuk-do and Chungcheongnam because they are the only ones to be completely immersed inland unlike the other provinces which benefit from being by the sea and the mountains. On a cultural level, though you may doubt it, this part of Korea is not to be missed. It is home to numerous ancient temples, notably the most splendid of the region which slot into the heart of the mountains. There are also 3 national parks to visit.
There is a piece of history in this region,
This region shares the knowledge of the monks. In 1377 in Cheongju, the first book written in printed metallic characters was made by Buddhist monks. It gathers together the knowledge of the grand master zen Buddhists of the period. Its complete title is “Baegun hwasang chorok buljo jikji simche yojeol”.
There are several copies in the world, but it’s in Paris that the original is stored, in the national library of France. It is inscribed into the Unesco register since 2001 in the category “Memories of the World”.
Another historic point, another era.
The king Muryeong is buried with the rest of his family in these lands and lived during the 5th century. He was a king who reigned in Korea which had as its capital the city of Baekje. It has developed the diplomatic exchanges with the kingdom Silla, of Gaya la Chine to repress the menace embodied by the kingdom of Goguryeo, which extends across a part of Korea and Manchuria. They wished to take the power from the other regimes in place.
The tomb of King Muryeong remained hidden for 1500 years and escaped the pillaging because it was discovered at the end of the 20th century. The six other tombs were pillaged at the start of the 20th century. These tombs are covered with magnificent mural painting.
However, due to carbon dioxide emissions from visitors, the paintings have been damaged. An identical reconstruction of the tomb of the king has been created identically so as to allow visitors to contemplate it.
A third historic site to visit.
Through the centuries, the kings of Paekche have revised the position of the capital of their kingdom. From ancestral sites, “the Paekche capitals of the 5th century” symbolise the last period of this kingdom. In this period, Korea was divided into 3 kingdom. You will have access to the remains of this era.
Travel into the past by visiting these places, the Busosanseong Fortress, the royal tombs of Songsan-ri linked to the Ungjin capital (currently Gongju), the Jeongnimsa temple, the royal tombs of Neungsan-ri and the ramparts of Naseong linked to the capital Sabi (currently Buyeo), the royal palace of Wanggung-ri and the Mireuksa temple in Iksan, linked to the second capital Sabi.
The Temple of Guinsa is the largest temple in the country with a capacity of up to 10,000 monks. This monastery tends its own agricultural land, allowing it to feed all its residents. And as a matter of interest, the monks are vegetarians.
The Haeinsa Temple is at high altitude and offers fulfilment for people who seek calmness and meditation. The monks from this temple produced a collection of writings, “Tripitaka Koreana”, which you will see during your visit. This heritage is extremely precious and has been protected by the monks here in this temple for several centuries.
Woraksan National Park is considered to be one of the most beautiful sites in Korea. During your hike, visit the Beopjusa Temple which is on Mount Songnisan and dates from the Koryo era. This sanctuary contains several statues of Buddha, including the largest in the world called “Cheongdongmireukbul”.
Seoraksan National Park is renowned for its mineral water and for the “Baekdamsa Temple” which is hidden in the heart of its mountains. Do not hesitate to book a local guide for three days to accompany you during your adventure.
And for a moment of pure relaxation, go to the Suanbo springs where you can experiment with the hot, warm and cold springs and the explore other benefits of the spa.
If you are a winter sports enthusiast, book a hotel at the foot its ski resorts.
The palace of Changdeokgung belonged to the royal family. It was built in the Middle Ages. Its historic architecture is still in perfect condition. And you will also have the privilege of strolling through the secret garden of the palace which in that era
was reserved exclusively for the royal family.
I spoke of the reconstruction of King Muryeong’s tomb in the “history section”.
The city of Bueyo was the capital of a great kingdom that traded with Japan and China. The Buyeo Fortress was built in 538 by King Seong. It is part of the kingdom of Baekje. And this capital was moved to different locations three times by its different kings.
For mud bath lovers, this is an unmissable experience. Daecheon beach is special because it has mud baths. If you like to party and you are not afraid to get dirty, a mud festival is held once a year. Daechon is a port city, so you can take a ferry to visit the surrounding islands.
Gyeryongsan National Park is perfect for hiking as there are a dozen different mountain peaks. As you stroll through the park, you will find spectacular waterfalls here and there.
The most popular spot in the area is Danyang Park.
You can scale the azalea-covered summits of “Sobaeksan”, explore the caves at Gosu Donggul, or go to see Chungju Lake (Chungjuho). Continuing along the path, you will fall across the narrow valley that conceals the “Guinsa” Buddhist temple.
And going north, you can take a trip to the last of the three Taean Haean National Parks.