Traveling To South Korea? Here's Why You Should Check Out Gangwon-Do
Bring to life your K-Drama and K-Pop dreams at Gangwon Province in South Korea
South Korea has become one of the hottest travel destinations for Filipinos, not only because airfare has been even more accessible in the last year, but also because of Filipinos’ love for Korean culture or Hallyu (Korean wave). Korean BBQ restaurants have mushroomed in the metro, Korean beauty brands have set up shop in our malls, K-Dramas have eaten our binge-watching schedules, and K-Pop songs continue to become people's preferred music.
But where else to experience the most authentic Korean journey than in South Korea itself?
South Korea offers a wide array of tourist destinations and experiences, from shopping and eating to cultural and natural spots. There are also many provinces to visit aside from its capital, Seoul, especially when you’re looking for scenic and natural experiences.
But if you’re in Korea to celebrate your inner Hallyu fan, probably one of the best places to visit is Gangwon-do, a province in the northeastern corner of South Korea known for its mountainous land and rich natural environment.
A nature tour
Gangwon-do is relatively undeveloped compared to the rest of South Korea, meaning it is home to abundant nature destinations and has a sparse population.
In the spring and summer seasons, you’ll want to hike the courses at Ulsanbawi Rock, Gwongeumseong Fortress, and Biryongpokpo Falls. For those who want to get to the peak in a jiffy, you may also take the cable car and enjoy the mountain view. In the winter, the mountain ranges transform into a skiing paradise, making Gangwon-do a great choice for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
And since Gangwon-do lies at the coast of the East Sea, there are many beaches and white-sand shores to enjoy.
Relive your K-drama dreams
But what is probably the biggest draw of Gangwon-do is that it is the home of K-drama. This is why the province of Gangwon decided to come into the country recently to further promote Gangwon-do as the next tourist destination.
Last August, Korean businessmen and the vice governor of Gangwon-do himself, Chung Man Ho, came to the country for Gangwon Day—a day of business consultation, exhibition of Gangwon-do products, and promotion of the province’s tourist destinations.
According to Chung Man Ho, they have noticed an increase in the number of Filipino tourists in Gangwon because of the Filipinos’ affinity for Korean dramas. Several Korean dramas and films that have become popular in the country were shot in Gangwon-do, including Autumn in My Heart, Winter Sonata, Goblin, and Descendants of the Sun.
Some of the spots in Gangwon that you should visit to bring to life your Korean drama dreams include:
Samtan Art Mine (Descendants of the Sun). This abandoned mine is actually the military base in the fictional country of "Uruk” in the series, where the majority of scenes from the fifth episode were shot. In 2016, to commemorate the success of Descendants of the Sun, they built Uruk’s church, as well as a kissing statue of the Song-Song couple around the film location.
Samcheok Daemyung Resort Sol Beach, Donghae (My Secret Romance). This Santorini-themed resort is the main filming location of the series.
Namiseom Island (Winter Sonata). Probably one of the most popular spots in Gangwon-do, Nami island is where Winter Sonata’s most remarkable scenes were shot.
Jumunjin Breakwater (Goblin). The Jumunjin beach was originally built to protect the Gangwon coastline from erosion, but has now become a famous destination after Goblin shot some scenes in the harbor.
Woljeongsa Temple Fir Forest trails (Goblin). This 1-kilometer forest trail leads to the Woljeongsa temple and is familiar to those who have watched Goblin.
Endorsed by Noir
If you’re a big K-pop fan, you’ll also find it interesting that international K-pop group Noir is the official ambassador of Gangwon-do in the Philippines. In fact, the government of Gangwon-do brought Noir here during Gangwon Day to share their story and perform some of their most popular songs like Airplane Mode and Doom Doom.
According to Chung Man Ho, they chose Noir to represent Gangwon province in the Philippines because of how warm and passionate the Filipino Lumieres (name of the fandom) are towards the group. They also saw how passionate Noir was to promote the Gangwon province.
Here are some of the photographs from Noir’s visit and fanmeet:
Photos from Fanlive PR and Gia Soriano