Adventures in Seoul and Busan, Korea

During a numbing day at work in the simmering heat of May …

(in a whisper) “Hey, during breakfast earlier on, we have decided to go Seoul in June! You wanna come along?”

And that’s how I ended up with Seoul on my ‘Next Up!’ list. Through the cartoon-ish Korean characters, the lush greenery of Nami Island, the neon billboards and buzzing crowds along Myeondong, the wonderland at Petite France, the art and culture at Gamcheon, the darkness at the Demilitarised Zone, and the world of face masks and beauty products, I found my Soul (pun intended).

Below are some of the highlights of the 6-day trip.  Details of the itinerary and places will be published soon, hopefully. For ease, I’ve listed down the highlights based on the order that we visited.

Nami Island

Older fans who had jumped onto the Korean-wave wagon, should be familiar with Winter Sonata, the film shot at Nami Island. This was one of the earlier Korean films that was popularised in non-Korea lands. This was the era of soppy, brother-sister-ly love dramas. Entering the Naminara Republic, one leaves behind cosmopolitan Seoul and is left to relax and unwind amongst the tall pine trees, white birch trees, gingko trees and maple trees. Fans of Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo (the two leading actors in Winter Sonata) will be pleased to pose with the many statues of the pair, strategically placed at scenic spots which became famous due to the film.

Nami island - Central Korean Pine Tree Lane
Nami island – Central Korean Pine Tree Lane
The Petite France
The Petite France
Petite France

One wonders why the fascination with Le Petite Prince in Korea?  I still have no idea. But Antoine de Saint-Exupery is probably one of the most worshipped French authors in Korea (heck, probably in every part of the world). The French-themed culture village is definitely worth a visit if one is in the vicinity of Gapyeong, in Gyeonggi province (both Petite France and Nami Island should be planned on a same day trip. See itinerary for more details.) Once again, K-pop fans will be pleased to know that the Petite France was the filming location for K dramas such as “Beethoven Virus (베토벤 바이러스)” and “The Man from the Stars/My Love from the Stars (별에서 온 그대) aka 来自星星的男人”. The highlights of the village include the colourful French-styled architecture, the various statues of the Little Prince, performances at the outdoor theatre, and the presence of fresh and colourful flora abundant on the grounds of the village. There were also trick shows and plays, but all in the Korean language. Continue reading Adventures in Seoul and Busan, Korea