When it comes to South Korea, the possibilities of finding places to go and things to do beyond Seoul are endless. It’s no wonder that Koreans enjoy travelling within their country’s breathtaking mountainous regions and beautiful beach destinations, and be one with nature.
Characterised by high mountains that surround the village’s valley floor, Jeongseon (정선군) is a county in central Gangwon-do (Gangwon Province), South Korea. The famous hometown of traditional Korean folksong “Jeongseon Arirang”, many of the area’s mountains are as high as 1,000 meters. As such, the region provides unpolluted mountain air and has weaving streams – and twisty roads alongside – scattered throughout the province, creating a picturesque and romantic landscape.
In January 2015, Korail’s launched the Jeongseon Arirang A-Train (Seoul to Jeongseon) which has made the county much more accessible, allowing day-trippers to come up from the capital. A popular travel destination in the recent years, it is also the hometown of famous actor Won Bin (of “Autumn in My Heart” fame) and footballer Seol Ki-hyeon.
Planning to pay the beautiful county a visit the next time you’re in South Korea? Here are some must-see Jeongseon attractions:
Auraji River (아우라지)
Auraji is the name of a lake where “Jeongseon Arirang” originated. Famous for its beautiful, clean mountains, and rivers, its name is derives from the Korean word “어우러지다” (pronounced as “eoureojida”), which means “to meet” as the waters of Pyeongchang and Samcheok unite in this area. Part of the upper stream of Namhangang River, Auraji was a famous starting point of log rafts transporting timber to Hanyang, the original name of Seoul. In fact, the lyrics of “Jeongseon Arirang” tells the story the of sadness and longing of a woman awaiting her husband who left for business to a far-away place or left to transport timber. Today, numerous tourists visit Auraji to enjoy its great scenic views or to see the symbol of a maid who, gazing into the river, seems to be waiting for her lover to return.
Location: 69, Auraji-gil, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do (강원도 정선군 여량면 아우라지길 69 (여량면))
Jeongseon 5-Day Market (정선아리랑시장)
Jeongseon 5-Day Market is one of the major local markets in Korea which opens every 2nd, 7th, 12th, 17th, 22nd, 27th. In the market, visitors can experience the lively bustling atmosphere of a Korean folk market and purchase agricultural produce at low prices. Its specially featured product is the Goraengji, a vegetable that grows in mountainous regions or on plateaus at 500-700m above sea level. Also on the market day, visitors will be able to watch a musical performance in Arirang center, a 3-part show that explains Arirang’s story, together with rhythmical and enjoyable music!
Location: 58-1, Bibong-ro, Jeongseon-eup, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do.
Arii Hills: Byeongbangchi Sky Walk and Zip Wire
Located in the between Gyuram-ri and Buksil-ri in Jeongseon-eup, the Byeongbangchi Observatory boasts breathtaking views surrounding Bamseom Island. Bamseom Island is shaped like the Korean peninsula and features the streams of Donggang River. The Byeongbangchi Skywalk experience offers a thrilling experience as it gives a feeling of walking in the sky thanks to the tempered glass on the “U”-shaped structure (11m) projected from the cliff at altitude of 583m. From this observatory, tourists will be able to experience the beauty of Bamseom Island and Donggang River.
Location: 225, Byeongbangchi-gil, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do. (강원도 정선군 정선읍 병방치길 225)
Admission: Adults (ages 19-64) 2,000 won / Teenagers & Children (ages 7-18) 1,000 won / Zip wire Fees 40,000 won
Jeongseon Rail Bike (정선레일바이크)
Combining biking along a railway and scenic views, the rail bike in Jeongseon Auraji is a new type of leisure sport that makes use of an abandoned railway track that runs fro m Jeongseon Auraji to Gujeol-ri. The total track is 7.2 kilometres long and a continuous descent that is easy to ride along clean valley waters and crimson red foliage. At the boarding area in Gujeol-ri Station, there is a café named “A Grasshopper’s Dream” which is housed in a train and shaped like a grasshopper. The rail bike starts in Gujeol-ri station and ends in Auraji Station. The trick is to ride at a slow speed of 15kph to enjoy the surrounding scenery. On the way back, riders will return to Gujeol-ri on a free train ride with a view.
Location: 745, Nochusan-ro, Yeoryang-myeon, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do. (강원도 정선군 여량면 노추산로 745 (여량면))
Admission: (2-seater bike) Individual 25,000 won / Group 22,500 won (4-seater bike) Individual 35,000 won / Group 31,500 won Operating Hours * March to October 09:00 – 18:00, 5 times a day * November to February 09:00 – 15:00, 4 times a day
Samtan Art Mine (삼탄아트마인)
Remember that episode in 2016’s hit Korean drama, “Descendants of the Sun“, where Argus kidnapped Dr. Kang to his hideout and blackmailed her to break up with Captain Yoo Shi Jin? That was filmed at the Samtan Art Mine. The Samtan Art Mine is a cultural art complex, transformed from an abandoned mine at the foot of Hambaeksan Mountain, the main production area of stone coal in Korea. Opened in 1964 as a industrial establishment, the mine operated until October 2001. The name “Samtan” refers to Samcheok Tanjwa, one of the major coal mines in Korea, and “Art Mine” plays on the history of the coal mine. There are many cultural art spaces throughout the nation, but Samtan Art Mine attracts visitors for being located inside an actual mine site. The Samtan Art Mine draws even deeper artistic meaning due to this poignant history.
Location: 1445-44, Hambaeksan-ro, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do.
Stadiums in Jeongseon
Last but not least, Jeongseon is also 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics ready with its Jeongseon Alpine Centre facilities! The Jeongseon Alpine Centre is an alpine skiing area located on the site of Gariwang mountain, in the township of Bukpyeong in the county of Jeongseon. With the capacity to accommodate 6,000 spectators, it will host the alpine speed events of Downhill, Super-G, and Combined. The men’s downhill starts at an elevation of 1,370 m (4,495 ft), with a course length of 2.857 km (1.775 mi), to a finish area at 545 m (1,788 ft). The vertical drop of 825 m (2,707 ft) surpasses the minimum drop of 800 m (2,625 ft) required by the International Ski Federation (FIS). The venue Gariwang mountain is one of the most remote areas in South Korea. The centre officially opened in January 2016 two weeks prior to its first event, the men’s World Cup speed.
Special thanks to our friends from Korea Tourism Organisation (Malaysia) for the opportunity!
Hype Malaysia is also an official “Wow! PyeongChang!” supporter in conjunction with the upcoming 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea. So keep a look out for our future posts as we’ll be gushing over places to go, things to do, and food to eat in Gangwon ?
Big shoutout to our friends from Travel Recommends for keeping us connected with unlimited data on our trip to South Korea, enabling us to update real-time for the entire duration without a hitch ?