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  • Date: 22-05-2014, 03:33
22-05-2014, 03:33

Seoul 서울

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Seoul 서울
To get the most out of this fascinating, at times frustrating, city you have to accept Seoul for what it is: the world’s largest company town. The company – Korea Inc – is not a commercial enterprise in the conventional sense but a gemeinschaftof hypercapitalism with 10 million employees dedicated to the pursuit of capital accumulation, conspicuous consumption and social, educational and corporate ladder climbing.

Art, urban panache and public amenities are on a par with what you’d expect in an iron-ore-mining community somewhere in the hinterland – in dramatically short supply – but there are pockets of world-class quality like the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art and the War Memorial Museum. Getting workers from point A to point B is what drives municipal organisation, with little thought given to what lies between. The result is an efficient subway and inoffensive, grey urban landscape that borders on bland. There are notable exceptions, like the Jongno Tower and nearby bell pavilion, which together constitute the city’s most
attractive architectural juxtaposition.

Like any mining town, Seoul’s precious goods are below the surface and hard to reach. If you’re going to tap into this city’s rich culture, which is built on 600 years of Confucius sediment, it’s essential to become an explorer. Dare to stroll neighbourhoods like Samcheong-dong, where English is hardly spoken. Experiment with unusual food like crispy bindaetteok(빈대떡; green-bean pancake) in the Gwangjang market accompanied by a bottle of makgeolli (막걸리), a milky rice wine. Most importantly, challenge yourself by trying things you never imagined possible, like the public bath, the quintessential Korean experience.
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  • Date: 22-05-2014, 03:27
22-05-2014, 03:27

Jeollanam-do 전라남도

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Jeollanam-do 전라남도
South Jeolla is one of Korea’s least developed and greenest provinces, where 25% of house-holds are farmers, against a national average of 7%. The province is pioneering pesticide-free and organic farming, while fish farming has breathed new life into coastal fishing villages and the many small, offshore islands, more and more of which are being linked by bridges to the mainland. A feature of rural life these days is farmers marrying Vietnamese and other Asian brides, so that Jeollanam-do has more international marriages than Seoul.

Irrigated rice fields, marine and land-based national parks, dramatic coastal views, fresh seafood and political dissent sum up the province. But – just as a one-time radical can become part of the establishment – Jeollanam-do is slowly but surely becoming more like the rest of Korea; it is now crisscrossed by expressways and its expanding cities are filling up with anonymous apartment blocks. Despite this the province retains a rebel edge, and is proud of its ceramic and artistic traditions, its Naju pears and green tea, its exiled poets and pro-democracy martyrs.
The region’s two heroes are Admiral Yi Sun-sin who defeated the Japanese navy in the 1590s and Kim Dae-jung, a 20th-century democracy warrior who became president in 1997 and finally ended the stranglehold on political power and patronage held by politicians from the eastern provinces. He received almost 100% support from the Jeolla provinces
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  • Date: 22-05-2014, 03:22
22-05-2014, 03:22

Jeollabuk-do 㤸⢰⺵⓸

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Jeollabuk-do  㤸⢰⺵⓸
The southwestern province of Jeollabuk-do has always been Korea’s rice bowl, and the image of white egrets standing in terraced rice fields is a provincial icon. Unspoilt national, provincial and county parks cover the more mountainous parts and offer some of Korea’s finest get-away-from-it-all hikes and scenery. Buddhist temples, frequently rebuilt over the centuries, still house shaven-headed monks who find the surrounding rocks, hills and trickling streams an aid to Zen meditation as they try to escape from the chains of material desires.

Another form of escape is to off-shore islands, sun drenched in summer, when the beaches could almost be Thailand. In winter thrill-seekers head to the slopes of Muju Ski Resort, with its European alpine atmosphere.Jeonju city is famous for its food (especially bibimbap, a dish of rice, meat and vegeta-bles served up by countless restaurants nationwide), its traditional culture and its hanok (traditional house) village suburb with its craft workshops, museums and rustic teashops.
Fans, dolls, boxes and even ties made of hanji(paper made by hand from mulberry bark) are popular buys. Pansori,a traditional musical drama performed by a solo singer and a drummer, is particularly associated with the province. Like its sister province to the south, its radicalism and artistic side combine in the annual Jeonju Film Festival, which focuses on indie films from around the world. Jeollabuk-do has recently faced conflict over two major environmental issues: the storage
of nuclear waste and the Saemangeum reclamation project on the west coast.
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  • Date: 22-05-2014, 03:18
22-05-2014, 03:18

North Korea

Category: Site News

North Korea
Redefining the term rogue state through its isolationism, controversial nuclear weapons programme and missile testing, North Korea is probably the most mysterious country in the world today and one almost entirely untouched by tourism. Off the beaten path seems too slight a term for a nation that admits fewer than 2000 Westerners a year, and whose overwhelming attraction is its isolation and backwardness.

Here the Kim dynasty, which began life as a Soviet-sponsored communist government in the 1950s, has evolved into a hereditary dictatorship owing far more to Confucianism than Marx-ism. The founder of the state, Kim Il Sung, may have died in 1994, but he is still the president of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the name locals prefer for their country). His son, a man who has only ever uttered one sentence in public (it was ‘Long Live the Victorious Korean People’s Army’ at a rally in Pyongyang in the early 1990s), continues to rule like a medieval monarch, an unknown quantity with nuclear weapons and a huge army at his beck and call, giving sleepless nights to governments in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington.

A trip to North Korea is strictly on its government’s terms, and it’s essential to accept that you’ll have no independence during your trip – you’ll be accompanied by two government-approved local guides at all times and only hear a very one-sided view of history throughout the trip. Those who can accept these terms will have a fascinating trip into another rather unsettling world. Simply to see a country where the Cold War is still being fought, where mobile phones and the internet are unknown, and where total obedience to the state is universally unquestioned is, for many, reason enough to visit.
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  • Date: 22-05-2014, 03:11
22-05-2014, 03:11

Jejudo 㥐㨰⓸

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Jejudo 㥐㨰⓸
Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Disneyland, paradise… Jejudo has been compared to all four, and each is at least partly true. The volcanic island features swaying palm trees, cactus plants, orange orchards, circus shows, casinos, a dozen sandy beaches, 14 golf courses, scuba diving and much more. Jejudo is Korea’s holiday and honeymoon island, where even bank tellers sport colourful, open-necked aloha shirts.

Most spectacular though are the volcanic landscapes. South Korea’s highest mountain, Hal-lasan (1950m), is a special national park with varied ecological zones, cute little roe deer and wonderful azalea blooms in May. Out east is an awesome volcanic crater, Ilchulbong, while Udo island has dramatic, black-lava cliffs and a glaringly white coral-sand beach. Along the southeast coast are incredibly eroded and pockmarked cliffs at Yongmeori and a sheer-sided rock, Sanbangsan, which is a spiritual mountain with a grotto temple and water with healing powers. Then there’s the world’s longest lava tube at Manjanggul, folk villages, museums, sculpture parks and Asian-style gardens – masses to see and do. The sea temperature is the warmest in Korea and the coral near Seogwipo is as colourful as in the tropics.
Festivals and events include marathons, triathlons and iron-man contests, and outdoor concerts and movies are held on the fun-filled beaches in summer. Stay in world-class resorts, smart new motels or classy minbak. Dine on barbecued pheasant and grilled okdom,a local fish that used to be reserved for Joseon monarchs.
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