South Korea

Day 19, 16.03, Friday

Incheon – Seul (~60 km)

The Incheon Metropolitan City was home to just 4,700 people when Jemulpo port was built in 1883. Today 2.76 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan. While people have inhabited the area from the New Stone Age, the city’s growth was assured in modern times with the development of its port due to its natural advantages as a coastal city.
Incheon has since led the economic development of Korea by opening its port to the outside world, issuing in the modernization of Korea as a center of industrialization. In 2003, the city was designated as Korea’s first free economic zone. Since then, large local companies and global enterprises have increasingly invested in free economic zone, including Samsung which chose Songdo International City as its new investment destination for its bio industry. Incheon has established itself as a true hub of Northeast Asia with the world renowned International Airport and Incheon Port.
The first historical record of the Incheon area dates back to 475 CE. by the name of “Michuhol”. The area underwent several name changes with successive kingdoms and dynasties. The current name was established in 1413. However, the name Jemulpo was not widely used until the opening of the port in 1883. In 1950, during the Korean War, Incheon was the site of the battle, when US troops landed to relieve pressure on the Pusan Perimetr and to launch a UN offensive northward. The result was a decisive UN victory.
In 2007 Incheon declared itself an “English City,” and inaugurated the “Incheon Free English Zone” program. The goal of the program is to make Incheon as much an English speaking city as Hong Kong and Singapore are. This is for the ultimate purpose of establishing Incheon as a commercial and business hub of northeast Asia. The official slogan of the program is “Smile with English.”
Points of interest:
Bupyeong Station is where the Seoul Subway Line 1 and Incheon subway line intersect. There is a large underground shopping center there mostly selling trendy women’s clothing and cell phones. Above ground, there are many restaurants, additional shops, and a Lotte Mart.
Jayu (Freedom) Park – The statue of General, Douglas MacArthur, as well as a memorial to the centennial anniversary of U.S. and Korea relations is located within.
Chinatown is Korea’s only official Chinatown, located across from Incheon Station near Jayu Park.
Arts Centre refers to a performance venue but also to a subway station and area. Within this district in Guwol-dong is Rodeo Street, a busy central square packed with restaurants and department stores.
Wolmido – Location of Green Beach, one of the landing sites for MacArthur’s invasion force. It is now a local tourist attraction.
Landing Operation Memorial Hall – A plaza and small museum dedicated to the Landing. Weapons and artifacts from the war and operation are displayed.
Dohobu Cheongsa – Located nearby Munhak Stadium, this is the old government complex for Incheon. It has existed since at least the reign of King Sejong, about 1424 A.D.

Days 20-21, 03.17-18, Saturday-Sunday

rest days, visiting Seulu

Seoul – officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea, with a population of over 10 million. Over half of South Korea’s population live in the Seoul National Capital Area (25 million), and nearly a quarter in Seoul itself, making it the country’s foremost economic, political, and cultural center.
Seoul has been a major settlement for over 2,000 years, with its foundation dating back to 18 B.C. During the Japanese colonial period in the early 20th century, the city was called “Capital City”. After independence in 1945, Koreans renamed the city Seoul (which also means “Capital City” in Korean). In 1949, Seoul was separated from Gyeonggi Province and was granted status as “Seoul Special City”. In 1950, during the Korean War, Seoul was occupied by North Korean troops and the city was almost entirely destroyed. The city was retaken by UN Forces on 14 March 1951. Since then, the city boundary has steadily grown into surrounding administrative divisions. The current boundaries were established in 1995.
Today, Seoul is considered to be a leading global city, one of the world’s top ten financial and commercial centers. In 2008 was named the world’s sixth most economically powerful city by Forbes.
Seoul has a highly technologically advanced infrastructure. In 19th century it became the first city in East Asia to have electricity, trolley cars, water, telephone, and telegraph systems. Seoul was the first city to feature a digital mobile TV technology, a wireless high-speed mobile internet service, etc. Train and  subway system is the third busiest in the world, with over 200 million passengers every year. Seoul hosted the 1998 Summer Olympics. The city was named the World Design Capital for 2010.
It is home to three UNESCO Sites: Changdeokgung, Jongmyo shrine and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.
The traditional heart of Seoul is the old Joseon Dynasty city, now the downtown area, where most palaces, government offices, corporate headquarters, hotels, and traditional markets are located. Cheonggyecheon, a stream that runs from west to east through the valley before emptying into the Han River, was for many years covered with concrete, but was recently restored through an urban revival project in 2005. The most historically significant street in Seoul is Jongno, meaning “Bell Street”, on which one can find Bosingak, a pavilion containing a large bell. The bell signaled the different times of the day and therefore controlled the four major gates to the city. The only time it is usually rung now is at midnight on New Year’s Eve, when it is rung thirty-three times. To the north of downtown is Bukhan Mountain, and to the south is the smaller Namsan. Further south are the old suburbs of Yongsan-gu and Mapo-gu. Across the Han River are the newer and wealthier areas of and surrounding neighborhoods.
Urban and civil planning was a key concept when Seoul was first designed to serve as a capital in the late 14th century. The Joseon Dynasty built “Five Grand Palaces”: Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Gyeongbokgung, and Gyeonghuigung. Among them, Changdeokgung was added to the UNESCO list in 1997 as an “outstanding example of Far Eastern palace architecture and garden design”. The main palace, Gyeongbokgung, is currently being restored to its original form. The palaces are considered exemplary architecture of the Joseon period. Beside the palaces, Unhyeongung is known for being the royal residence at the end of the Joseon Dynasty.
Seoul has been surrounded by walls that were built to regulate visitors from other regions and protect the city in case of invasion. Pungnaptoseong is a flat earthen wall built at the edge of the Han River which is widely believed to be the site of Wiryeseong. Mongchon Toseong  is another earthen wall which is now located inside the Olympic Park.
Although many walls and fortresses were demolished, some palace and fortress gates have played a role in the city’s heart. The gates are more commonly known as Namdaemun (South Great Gate) and Dongdaemun (East Great Gate). Namdaemun was the oldest wooden gate until a 2008 arson attack, and is currently undergoing reconstruction. Situated near the gates are the traditional markets and largest shopping center.
There are also many buildings constructed with international styles in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The Independence Gate was built in 1897 to inspire an independent spirit. Seoul Station was opened in 1900 as Gyeongseong Station. Major modern landmarks in Seoul include mostly skyscrapers. The Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park, and Lotte World (the world’s largest indoor amusement park) are located in Songpa-gu, on the south side of the Han River, upstream from Gangnam-gu.
Seoul is home to over 100 museums, including three national and nine official municipal museums.

Day 22, 03.19, Monday

Seul – Anyang – Hwasong fortress – Suwon – Korean Folk Village (~80 km)
Starting from the Olympic main stadium in Jam-sil, pass through the direction to south bound to Seong-nam city and after passing through the Boon-dang city and keep going to Yong-in city. When you are in Yong-in city, then you can see the sign board to Korean Folk Village.
A motel nearby K.F.V., 15 min. by bike.

Anyang is located approximately 25 km south of Seoul, and 19 km north of Suwon. Its motto is “Livable city, Proud citizens” while its other symbols are ‘Podong-i’ a grape mascot which represents Anyang’s past as a grape growing area, the Forsythia (flower), Ginkgo (tree), and the Eagle. There is the Art Park along the rocky river bank and trees.
Hwaseong (Brilliant Castle/ Fortress) – the wall surrounding the centre of Suwon was built in the late 18th century by King Jeongio of the Joseon Dynasty to honour and house the remains of his father Prince Sado, who had been murdered by being locked alive inside a rice chest by his own father having failed to obey his command to commit suicide. Located 30 km south of Seoul and enclosing much of central Suwon including King Jeongjo’s palace Haenggung, UNESCO designated the fortress a World Heritage site in 1997.
Korean Folk Village – Opened in 1974, the Korean Folk Village is an outdoor exhibition of houses from the Joseon Era (1392-1910). On display are various government buildings and commoners’ houses that differ by region, as well household objects, farming tools, and crafts from the Joseon period. Events are organized every season, including traditional wedding ceremonies, Nongak music performances, and Jultagi tight rope performances. At the village marketplace, visitors can taste Korean rice cakes and fried foods like injeolmi, bindaetteok, and pajeon, as well as traditional liquor such as dongdongju. For the past several decades, the village has been popular among both local and international travelers and is frequently used as a filming location.

Day 23, 03.20, Tuesday

Korean Folk Village – road nr 45 – Myobong – to the left – Anseong – to the road nr 34 and to the left – Jincheon – cross the expressway nr 35 – Chopyeong (~80 km)

Anseong promotes itself as “The City of Masters”. It is known for producing brassware and arts and crafts. From late Spring to Fall, Anseong is holds its own festival. The agriculture consists of Asian pears, grapes, and rice.
Jincheon holds a World Taekwondo Hwarang festival every year. The festival becomes an opportunity for all fans of Taegwondo to get together in its motherlands. It has more meaning as experience, since it not only provides a splendid tour opportunity in Korea, but participants also experience the spirit of Korean martial arts.

Day 24, 03.21, Wednesday

Chopyeong – road nr 34 – Goesan – to the right to Gagyeecinsa temple in the National Park Sok-risan – to the left to Bong-amsa and Shimukonsa temples – to the road nr 32 (~90 km)

Day 25, 03.22, Thursday

rom the road nr 32 to the left – cross the expressway nr 45 – Hamchang – to the left road nr 3 – Jeomchon – to the right to the road nr 59 – to the road nr 28 and to the left – Hahoe village (~80 km)

Anseong promotes itself as “The City of Masters”. It is known for producing brassware and arts and crafts. From late Spring to Fall, Anseong is holds its own festival. The agriculture consists of Asian pears, grapes, and rice.
Jincheon holds a World Taekwondo Hwarang festival every year. The festival becomes an opportunity for all fans of Taegwondo to get together in its motherlands. It has more meaning as experience, since it not only provides a splendid tour opportunity in Korea, but participants also experience the spirit of Korean martial arts.

Day 26, 03.23, Friday

rest day, visiting Hahoe village, Confucian Academy

Hahoe Folk village – the village is a valuable part of Korean culture because it preserves Joseon period-style architecture, folk traditions, valuable books, and old tradition of clan-based villages. To the north of the village is Buyongdae Cliff while Mt. Namsan lies to the south. The village is organized around the geomantic guidelines of pungsu and so the village has the shape of a lotus flower or two interlocking comma shapes. The village is listed by the South Korean government with UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
The Hahoe Folk Village was established in the 16th century during the Joseon Dynasty and has been a one-clan community since that time. The village is notable because it has preserved many of its original structures, such as the village Confucian school and other buildings, and maintains folk arts such as the Hahoe Mask dance Drama (‘Byeonlsin-gut’) which is a shamanist rite honoring the communal spirits of the village.
The village today is divided into Namchon (South Village) and Pukchon (North Village). The north village contains Yangjindang Manor, designated as Treasure No. 306, and Pikchondaek House, designated Important Folklore Material No. 84. The south village contains Chunghyodang Manor, designated as Treasure No. 414 and Namchondaek House, an Important Folklore Material No. 90. While each branch of the Pungsan Yu clan used lived in their respective manor homes and sides, today both branches have live throughout the village.
The village maintains old architectural styles that have been lost because of rapid modernization and development in South Korea. Aristocratic tile-roofed residences and thatched-roof servants’ homes preserve the architectural styles of the Joseon Dynasty. Wonjijeongsa Pavilion and Byeongsan Confucian School are two notable structures in the village. Another rite still practiced is the Jeulbul Nori which uses strings of fireworks fired at the base of the Buyongdae Cliff. Yongmogak Shrine houses Yu Seong-ryong’s collection of books and includes National Treasure No. 132 Chingbirok, a book which records in 1592. Treasure No. 160, Kunmundungok, is a record of the military encampments. Chunghyodang also holds 231 royal writs of appointment.

Day 27, 03.24, Saturday

Hahoe – cross the expressway nr 55 – Jeomgok – Gusan dong – to the road nr 35 and to the right – Woljeong – Jacheon (~90 km)

Day 28, 03.25, Sunday

Jacheon – from the road nr 35 to the left to the road nr 69 – to the right – Yeongcheon – to the left the road nr 28 – Dongdo – Angang – to the right to the road nr 20 – to the left and reaching the railway to the right – Gyeongju (~90 km)

Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD) which ruled between the 7th and 9th centuries. A vast number of archaeological sites and cultural properties from this period remain in the city. Gyeongju is often referred to as “the museum without walls”. Among such historical treasures, Seokguram grotto, Bulguksa temple, Gyeongju Historic Areas and Yangdong Folk Village are designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
The city of Gyeongju was united with the nearby rural Gyeongju County in 1995 and is now an urban-rural complex. It is similar to 53 other small- and medium-sized cities with a population under 300,000 people in South Korea.
Gyeongju is the main destination in South Korea for visitors interested in the cultural heritage of Silla and the architecture of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). The city has 31 National Treasures, and National Museum. There are four broad categories of relics and historical sites: tumuli and their artifacts; Buddhist sites and objects; fortresses and palace sites; and ancient architecture.  There are 35 royal tombs and 155 tumuli in central Gyeongju, and 421 tumuli in the outskirts of the city. Silla burial mounds built after the period of the Three Kingdoms are found in central Gyeongju. In addition to the tombs, tumuli have been found surrounding Namsan mountain and in the western part of Geumgang mountain.

Day 29, 03.26, Monday

Gyeongju – the road nr 4 – Seokguram grotto – Bulguksa temple – to the road nr 31 – Bong-gil beach (~50 km)

Bulguksa is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It is classified as Historic and Scenic Site No. 1 by the South Korean government.  In 1995, Bulguksa was added to the UNESCO list together with the Seokguram grotto, which lies four kilometers to the east. The temple is considered as a masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art in the Silla kingdom. The temple’s records state that a small temple was built in this iste in 528. The current temple was constructed under in 751, begun by Prime Minister to pacify the spirits of his parents. The building was completed in 774 by the Silla royal court, after Gim’s death, and given its current name Bulguksa (Temple of the Buddha Land). The wooden buildings were burned to the ground and after 1604 the reconstruction started, followed by about 40 renovations until 1805. A partial restoration was conducted in 1966. Upon an extensive archeological investigation, major restoration was conducted between 1969 and 1973, bringing Bulguksa to its current form. The famous stone structures are preserved from the original Silla construction.
Seokguram Grotto is a hermitage and part of the Bulguksa temple complex. It lies four kilometers east of the temple on Mt. Tohamsan. It is classified as National Treasure No. 24. The grotto overlooks the East Sea and rests 750 m above sea level. In 1962. In 1995, Seokguram was added to the UNESCO list together with the Bulguksa Temple. It exemplifies some of the best Buddhist sculptures in the world. Construction began in 742 by Gim and was completed by the Silla court in 774, shortly after his death. An old legend stated that Gim was reincarnated for his filial acts in his previous life. The legend relates that the Bulguksa Temple was dedicated to Gim’s parents in his present life while the Seokguram Grotto was dedicated to Gim’s parents from a previous life.

Day 30, 03.27, Tuesday

beach Bong-gil – the road nr 31 – Haseo – Gangdong – Yonam – Ulsan – the road nr 14 – Busan (~90 km)

Ulsan – the Metropolitan City, one of seventh largest Korean metropolis with a population of over 1.1 million. It is located in the south-east of the country, at the East Sea coast. The industrial powerhouse of South Korea, forming the heart of the Ulsan Industrial District, which is home to Hyundai.

Day 31, 03.28, Wednesday

rest day, visiting Busan

Busan (Officially Busan Metropolitan City), formerly spelled Pusan, is second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of around 3.6 million. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world. The city is located on the southeastern most tip of the Korean peninsula. The most densely built up areas of the city are situated in a number of narrow valleys rivers, with mountains separating some of the districts. On November 14, 2005, the city officially announced its bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. After Pyeongchang’s successful bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, the city is considering its bid to host the 2024 or 2028 Summer Olympics. Busan is home to the world’s largest department store, the Shinsegae Centrum City and is pursuing a large number of multi-skyscraper projects, including Solomon Tower (108 floor, 418m), Haeundae Resort Tower (108 floor, 478m), the 110-floor, 510m – supertall Lotte Super Tower, which is slated to become the world’s fifth tallest building in 2015.

Day 32, 03.29, Thursday

Busan – ferry at 8 p.m. (12 h) – Shimonoseki (Japan)