If you are travelling by Finnair this month, you will see a striking image on the front page of their in-flight magazine, Blue Wings. A shamanistic dancer in a bright yellow costume looks you in the eye, advertising the lead article on the delights of Korea as a travel destination.
Finnair flies non-stop to Seoul from Helsinki five times a week, and so it’s natural to want to give passengers some insider travel ideas. To write the article, Finnair hired Meeting Mr Kim author (and LKL contributor) Jennifer Barclay.
Here are Jennifer’s six main suggestions:
- Nature tripping: hiking up Ulsanbawi Peak in the Seoraksan National Park in Kangwondo – and the approaching autumn is the best time to visit. If you don’t want to go as far as Seoraksan, Bukhansan National Park is only a subway and short bus ride from downtown Seoul. Or, on the west coast in Jeollabukdo is Byeonsan peninsula National Park.
- Islands in the sun: we’ve all heard of Chejudo, but how about the usploilt island of Deokjeok-do, an hour from Incheon? “It has shelving beaches of soft white sand and undulating hills carpeted with forest”. In the same area is the historic Kanghwa island, whose festivals include a Dolmen festival (“Korea has almost half of the world’s dolmens or megalithic tombs”) and a salted shrimps festival (both in September to early October).
- Seoul’s secrets: Back on more familiar tourist territory, the Gyeongbokgung Royal Palace and Jongmyo Shrine are must-sees.
- Seoul by night: The Chongdong Theatre speacialises in traditional performing arts, while at the B-Boy Korea Theatre in Jeong-dong you can see hits such as The Ballerina who loved a b-boy. Alternatively, party the night away in Itaewon, or shop the night away in Dongdaemun market.
- The city that never stops eating: well, we all love Korean food, don’t we?
- Jazz and kimchi festivals: Korea has a bewildering array of festivals. To add to the two festivals on Kanghwa island mentioned above, here’s another two which happen in October: the Jarasum International Jazz Festival on the peotically named Turtle Island in Gyeonggi-do, and the Kwangju kimchi festival in the south-west (though you may have to wait until next year for the latter, because according to local sources this year’s festival has been canceled for fear of swine flu – so much for kimchi being the cure for everything!).
Jennifer’s brief was “Six ways to see South Korea”, but in fact she had too many ideas to fit into the article. As well as the main headings outlined above, she recommends the Museum of Contemporary Art, and mentions the Incheon Global Fair, which runs till 25 October. Click on the first link below to read Jennifer’s article in full.
- September’s Blue Wings magazine
- Finnair Website
- Meeting Mr Kim page on Jennifer Barclay’s site
- Korea National Park Service website, including Seoraksan, Bukhansan and Byeonsan pages
- Visit Incheon website, including Deokjeok-do page
- Visit Seoul website, including Seoul’s Five Palaces, Ballerina who loved a B-boy page, and an article on Food Streets
- Chongdong Theatre website for traditional performing arts in Seoul, and its performance schedule