When I think of Korea I think of many memories of very beautiful people, fascinating places, delightful food and beautiful colors and scenery. I lived in S. Korea from 1991-1999 as a missionary and taught English as a foreign language and Bible classes. I had many experiences and learned many things about myself and Korea and the beautiful people who live there.
Korea has a very interesting history and it is still celebrated every year in Seoul in the “Hi Seoul” festival at the end of every April. They also celebrate spring in central Korea with the Azalea festival in Taejon. Korea has many festivals and Koreans can be very happy people, even though they have gone through many difficult times in their 5,000 year history. Koreans are also a very serious people and are diligent and hard working. They teach their young that education is very important and I remember many students struggling to learn English to get ahead in the business world.
Korea has many varieties of things to do and places to see. Seoul is a bustling city that in many ways resembles the busy cities of America. They have heavy traffic and subways that spiral through the city. One of the things I liked most about Seoul were the outdoor markets. One gigantic flea market sprawling through several blocks, both above ground and below ground in the subway entrances, and both small and large indoor stores and tables overflowing with everything from jewelry to local snack food. Dong Dae Moon is one of the largest shopping areas and one of my very favorite places to go. Dong Dae Moon means “East Door” or “East Gate”, and it really was the eastern entrance to the old city, one can still go there and see the huge gate (sort of a TT shape in the middle of a huge square seemingly at odds with the modern day traffic buzzing around it.
Other parts of the country are just the opposite of Seoul, so if you like the wide open country or mountain climbing (Korea is 70% mountains) then you will also be at home. One of the most fascinating views I have ever seen is from the top of Beoman Mountain in Taejon, in the central part of Korea. I grew up in Oklahoma and actually don’t really remember seeing much many mountains until just before I went to Korea, when I went to Colorado. So standing on the top of that mountain took my breath away. Looking down was like the view from the top of a huge sprawling dragon’s head and looking across at the horizon was mountain range after mountain range fading into the distant clouds. Those are sights that I will never forget.
Since Korea is a peninsula, the three coasts (eastern, western and southern) are great for anyone who likes water. Korea is surrounded by several islands. There are a set of islands off the Southeastern coast that are refereed to as the puppy head islands, because from a nearby hill on the mainland that is what they are said to look like. Of course fishing and seafood are a great part of Korean diet and lifestyle. They also have an island, called Che-Ju Do (Do means Island), that is just as much a vacation spot as is our Hawaiian Islands. It is a very beautiful island, with old underground volcano remains that are fascinating to tour and many other sights to see. One place on the island has a very beautiful lighthouse and near there the women still dive for pearls with no oxygen tanks or other high tech equipment just like they have done for thousands of years. Another way to experience Che-ju do is to rent a motorcycle and take a day or to and ride around the island. There are waterfalls and many other beautiful scenes to behold.
Korea is a beautiful country and its people are just as beautiful. If you ever get the opportunity to travel there I am sure that you would agree. Check out their websites and learn more about this fascinating oriental country and culture.