People are growing increasingly enamoured with South Korea thanks to their wildly popular cultural exports like K-Dramas and K-Pop. But catchy songs and binge-worthy shows are not even close to all this vibrant country has to offer.
If you’ve been looking to visit somewhere that will transport you directly to the past; you can’t do better than South Korea. South Korea is dubbed the Land of the Morning Calm for a good reason. It’s a place chock full of heritage and history that will intrigue and delight people from all walks of life. Here are some of the historic sites you need to see:
1. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사)
Situated in North-east Busan, Hadedong Yonggungsa is a temple you’ve never seen before. It was built along the coastline in 1376 during the Goryeo Dynasty. Because the build had been initiated by the revered Buddhist teacher Naong, this temple housed many invaluable Buddhist artefacts, including the Statue of the Great Goddess of Mercy in the Sea. There is also a pagoda with symbolic effigies of lions looking out towards the sea. There are 108 steps built to take you towards the coast, so you’ll be able to experience the breath-taking views of it all for yourselves.
2. Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)
Erected in 1395, people also know this palace by the name Northern Palace due to its strategic location on the Northernmost side of Seoul. Gyeongbokgung is the most impressive and stunning of the five palaces in the capital city, despite the damage it has sustained from the war. It also contains some precious treasures from the Joseon Dynasty. Take a short detour to the Gyeonghoeru Pavillion and Hwangwongjeong pond nestled close by.
3. Sinheungsa Temple (신흥사)
If you’re willing to make the trek, Sinheungsa Temple, situated on Mount Seorak, is well worth the effort. Built-in the 600s, the Buddhist temple was set on fire several times until its last restoration in 1648. You’ll find this gorgeous temple in Seoraksan National Park, where you can also gaze at the nearly 15-metre-tall bronze statue of Buddha.
4. Suwon Hwaseong Fortress (수원화성)
Dubbed a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, this mighty and robust fortress has a wall that extends more than five and a half kilometres. It was built in the 17th century and boasted many military facilities from that time. Unfortunately, the extensive damage sustained from the war has been partially irreparable. That hasn’t stopped the site from becoming a hugely popular platform for many cultural and entertainment events. This, of course, includes the Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival that is hosted in the Spring.
South Korea is a bustling metropolitan at the cutting edge of today’s modern society. However, it’s also a land filled with history and cultural traditions that have been preserved for centuries and even millennia. That fascinating dichotomy is what makes this country such a unique place. You would be remiss if you didn’t visit the sites listed above on your next trip there.
But to enjoy a more profound, meaningful experience in South Korea, why not take a few Korean language courses from Sejong? We are Singapore’s premiere Korean language centre staffed by experienced teachers who will teach you to speak the language like a native in no time. Contact us today to learn more!