South Korea is not just a prosperous, modern-day country boasting some of the best technological advancements, but also one that has many natural beauties as well. Now, we’re not talking about your beloved idol celebrities or stunning Korean actors and actresses – though they are indeed beauties in their own right! We’re talking about breath-taking natural formations like magnificent mountains, sprawling valleys, and remarkable oceans.
The amazing thing about South Korea is the variety of natural wonders you can experience. Besides having forests, mountains, and seas, the different seasons also paint the scenes with distinct colours throughout the year, creating unique experiences each time you visit.
The next time you visit South Korea, don’t spend all your time in the city centre. Take some time to soak in the healing vibes of nature as well! Here are some suggestions of nature attractions to visit in South Korea:
1. Seoraksan National Park
Fancy a walk in a Korean nature reserve? Seoraksan National Park offers hikers plenty to see and experience in its forested mountainous landscape. Situated in Gangwon, the park is gazetted as a tentative UNESCO World Heritage site, recognised for its diverse flora and fauna, including more than 1,000 plant species and more than 1,500 animal kinds.
Hikers can take their pick from the many routes in the nature reserve, which offers wonderful views of streams, valleys, and mountains. The park is also home to Sinheungsa Temple, which you won’t miss due to its enormous Buddha statue near the entrance. If you are feeling up for it, you can even hike up one of the peaks, the tallest being Daecheongbong, at 1,700m in altitude.
2. Jirisan National Park
Towering at 1,915m above sea level, Jirisan, or Mount Jiri, is the tallest peak in mainland South Korea. The national park that surrounds it is the largest in South Korea, cutting across three provinces, North, South Jeolla, and South Gyeongsang. With its numerous hiking routes, Jirisan is notable for its mesmerising views. But perhaps as much as its natural resplendence, Jirisan is also well-known in South Korea for its spiritual and cultural significance.
Known as one of South Korea’s three ‘legendary mountains’ along with Hallasan and Geumgangsan, Jirisan is home to seven major Buddhist temples, and hold the stories to countless legends and historical anecdotes that South Koreans hold dear. Aptly, the mountain’s name means ‘mountain of the wise and strange’, a reference to people who sought truth while roaming the mountain ridges.
3. Cheonjeyeon Waterfall
Take in the spectacular view of this three-tier waterfall, with an equally majestic name, meaning ‘Pond of the Emperor of Heaven’. The cold-water waterfall begins flowing out of the ceiling of a cave, and cascades down three waterfalls before eventually leading to the ocean. As legend has it, the waterfall’s pond is where seven heavenly nymphs would descend to for their evening bath. You can catch a ‘glimpse’ of these nymphs on the Seonimgyo Bridge, located just above the falls.
Cheonjeyeon Waterfall is just one of three famous waterfalls in Jeju Island, the other two being Cheonjiyeon Waterfall and Jeongbang Waterfall. Due to the temperate climate there, the region is home to unique species of plants, including rare ‘solipnan’ reeds. As such, Cheonjeyeon is a favourite amongst nature-lovers as well as botanical researchers.
Indeed, no trip to South Korea is truly complete without a taste of the peninsula’s natural wonders. While most of these are popular tourist attractions with ample signage in English, it always helps to have some knowledge of the Korean language when navigating around the country. If you’re planning a trip to South Korea in the near future, don’t forget to pick up some Korean language skills before you go!
Korean language courses at Sejong Korean Language school are conducted by native Korean teachers who are not only well-qualified to teach the language, but also passionate about imparting Korean cultural knowledge to students. Join us to experience the ‘Sejong Standard’ for yourself!