The hidden landscapes, arts and culture of South Korea

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With the pandemic almost over, many countries have opened their borders to international travelers. Among those who endured one of the longest lockdowns in the world, Filipinos are even more excited to travel again. And whether before the pandemic or near its end, one of the top countries on the list for Filipinos to visit remains South Korea.

In fact, according to pre-pandemic statistics, South Korea enjoyed half a million annual travelers from the Philippines. The highly developed East Asian nation became a popular destination due to the Hallyu Wave, or Korean Wave, which succeeded in breaking down the barriers of South Korea’s popular culture, including music, TV shows, movies, beauty and even food, all over the world.

Among the usual places where many tourists go are Seoul and Jeju Island. While these are the familiar places visitors flock to for history, ultra-modern design and technology, nightlife, shopping, and nature-related attractions, there remain several hidden cities and provinces that have yet to be explored. been discovered by international travelers. In other words, they are virgin destinations that have not been shaped by human activity.

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The Sunday Times Magazine was among the Philippine press invited by the Manila Office of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) to visit these lesser-known resorts, including Busan and Jeolla province, particularly Gwangju, Jeollabuk-do, and Jeollanam. -do, hoping that Filipino travelers will consider what these places offer, in addition to the usual South Korean destinations.

The trip was made possible through partnerships with the Busan Tourism Organization, Jeolla Nam-do Tourism Organization, Jeolla Buk-do Culture and Tourism Organization, Jeonbuk Culture and Tourism Foundation, Jeolla Nam-do Tourism Organization Korea Tourism Organization Gwangju Jeonnam Office and Busan Ulsan Korea Tourism Organization. Office.

Jeolla Province

Jeolla Province was one of the eight historical provinces of Korea during the Joseon Kingdom in today’s southwestern Korea. It is one of the must-see destinations here where travelers can savor traditional and modern activities at the same time. There is certainly no shortage of things to see and do in this part of Korea.

Jeollabuk-do. A popular site for stops is the Awon Museum and Gallery in Wanju. One of the reasons why it became such a big hit is because K-pop supergroup BTS had a video and photo shoot in the same place for “BTS Summer Package 2019 in Korea”. But apart from such exciting activities, the area is also a perfect getaway for those seeking peace and quiet, thanks to the surrounding nature and the backdrop of Jongnamsan Mountain. Awon is also apparently a hotel where guests can stay in the 250-year-old hanok (traditional Korean house).

Another popular destination for local and international travelers is Jeonju Hanok Village in Jeonju, which has around 800 traditional Korean hanok houses. It is home to valuable cultural heritage such as the Gyeonggijeon Shrine, the Jeonjuhyanggyo Local Confucian School, the Omokdae Historic Site, and the Jeondong Cathedral. Here, it is customary to see tourists strolling the streets dressed in elegant hanbok (traditional costumes). As a famous attraction, traditional food, tea shops, cafes, and workshops thrive here.

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Gwangju. Among the must-see destinations for visitors in South Korea’s sixth-largest metropolis is the Wolbongseowon Confucian Academy, built in 1578. Here, visitors can still enjoy the atmosphere of Korea’s old days simply by walking through the grounds of The academy. Entering through the main gate, visitors will be greeted by Bingwoldang’s main conference hall, as well as Chilsongjoeng, Aeildang Hall, and other charming old buildings, including Jonseongjae, or dormitories for scholars. Within the area there is a place where guests can experience the wearing of Confucian scholars’ robes, tea ceremony and traditional music.

One of the main places that Gwangju is also proud of is its Asian Cultural Center or ACC. It is home to activities such as cultural exchange in Asia and content creation, production, exhibition, performance and distribution. With four stories above ground and four stories below ground, it consists of venues such as the ACC Archive and Research, ACC Creation, ACC Theatre, ACC Children, and the ACC Cultural Exchange.

Meanwhile, many stories can be discovered in a small town called Yangnim Penguin Village. Penguins don’t live here, but visitors will find alleyways and traditional houses decorated with penguin-inspired murals and outdoor displays. This was done to promote art and tourism, helping the local elders to make a living.

Just steps away from Penguin Village is Lee Lee Nam Studio, an art gallery and museum run by the world-renowned contemporary media artist of the same name. The studio consists of three areas: the writer’s studio, the Media Art Museum (MAM) and the media cafe.

Jeollanam-do. Meanwhile, Damyang’s Metasequoia-line Land is one of the most beautiful trails in Korea, perfect for taking pictures all season long. The beautiful tunnels created by the giant trees that line the path are a unique sight. The track is historically significant, being the first tree-lined road developed using cultivated saplings.

Equally impressive is Juknokwon Bamboo Garden. This bamboo forest, approximately 310,000 square meters, has eight trails with different themes. As visitors walk along the path, listening to the crackling sounds of bamboo leaves, visitors will find themselves in the middle of the thick bamboo forest. The refreshing wind gives anyone a refreshing feeling.

One of the most picturesque places in South Korea is the Boseong green tea fields. It’s a popular tourist attraction year-round, thanks to the vast rows of tea trees that line the hillside like a carpet of deep green. Despite being located on a small peak just 350 meters above sea level, the observation deck at the top offers sea views on clear days. The entrance to the tea plantation is also lined with tall cedar trees, giving this plantation a unique look. Due to its scenery, it has been featured as a filming site in dramas.

Blessed with lush natural surroundings, the Suncheonman National Garden, on the other hand, was established on a 1.12 million square kilometer plot to help protect Suncheonman Bay. The garden is home to more than 790,000 trees of 505 species and 3.15 million flowers of 113 species. Next year, Suncheonman will hold its International Garden Expo from April 22 to October 22, 2023.

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On the other side is the Suncheonman Wetland. Its fields are densely covered with reeds taller than a grown man, it is said to be the largest reed colony in Korea. It is also a natural habitat for birds of more than 140 species, including migratory and endangered bird species.

A few kilometers away is the Suncheon Drama Set, which is known as a filming location for famous KTV dramas and movies. The site has optimal filming conditions with its vast area of ​​40,000 square meters. As they walk through the site, visitors can imagine the busy atmosphere of the filming location with the staff and actors.

Meanwhile, another amazing city in Jeollanam-do is Yeosu. It has many popular attractions, including Yeosu Art Land, which is home to the largest AR 3D Trick Art museum in South Korea, and several Instagram-worthy entertainment facilities.

Equally interesting is the Museum of Art, the largest immersive media art exhibit in the country. The large space features 10 new colorful multimedia art exhibits through a mix of light and sound. The media artworks, created around the theme of “Eternal Nature”, provide a seamless immersive experience with striking images, sensual sounds and elegant fragrances.

In Yeosu, tourists can also experience the sea cable car, which allows them to see the beautiful scenery of the sea and the Geobukseon Bridge, which is otherwise only offered through aerial photography.


Busan became even more popular due to the 2016 zombie movie “Train to Busan”. But the second largest city in South Korea can surprise all visitors without a history with its picturesque beaches, stunning mountain scenery, and historic temples, among many others. In fact, as the economic, cultural, and educational hub of southeastern South Korea, they aim to host the 2030 World Expo here (read the sidebar on C3).

There are hundreds of places and things to do in this bustling port city, but some of the things to experience here include going to Busan Cooking Class with CEO and Chef Heeyoung Jang. In the Busan Cooking Class, guests will learn about Busan’s food culture and prepare a complete Korean meal. Everyone’s creation can be enjoyed accompanied by local rice wine and a local tea ceremony at the end.

Meanwhile, stunning views of the city and ocean can be expected at Busan X the Sky’s highest view. The observation deck takes visitors up to the 98th to 100th floors of the tower. It also features a clear glass pedestrian bridge called “Shocking Bridge” and has X the Photo zone, X the Gift shop for souvenirs, and X the Lounge for food and drinks.

On the other hand, aboard the Heaundae Blueline Park Beach Train is also a great way to take in panoramic ocean views through its expansive windows. It runs at a comfortable speed of 15 kilometers per hour and stops at six stations.

Finally, Busan also offers yacht tours during the day, sunset or night. It’s the most comfortable and luxurious way to see what the wonderful city has to offer at an affordable price.

Filipino tourists can definitely enjoy South Korea more with these fascinating places and sites.

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