WHY SOUTH KOREA?
Unlike other destinations, South Korea has never really been off limits. Well, maybe it wasn’t the best place to visit prior to the end of the 1950s’ Korean War, and it may not have been the most inviting during the political turmoil that followed—but it was never a closed country like others we have featured. Today this “Tiger Economy” is among Asia’s greatest overlooked destinations.
The boom in the South Korean economy saw an improvement in the country’s overall standard of living as well as its infrastructure, with advancements made in communications systems (it boasts the world’s fastest Internet!) and transportation networks (the world’s largest subway system) in particular. South Korea also has one of the highest rates of post-secondary education in the world and an outstanding healthcare system, which helps make it a great country for travellers.
Yet for all its advantages South Korea remains an enigma for many in the West. Sure we know Samsung, Hyundai-Kia, LG, Korean barbecues and Gangnam Style, but when it comes to the nation’s history, culture and language most of us employ a bit of coy shoulder shrugging. But if you add all of this together you get an ideal place to discover and explore.
There’s fantastic food, amazing shopping, a thriving music scene, bullet trains and even professional baseball
Korea has a very long and rich history, and the country teems with ancient palaces and temples, museums, cool neighbourhoods (both super-old and hyper-new) and a whole bunch of outstanding national parks that are just begging to be hiked, climbed and explored.
There’s fantastic food, amazing shopping (antiques and high tech especially), a thriving music scene (not just karaoke!), bullet trains and even professional baseball. And of course, anyone interested in modern history couldn’t possibly miss a visit to the DMZ— the demilitarized zone that separates North from South—and the opportunity to eyeball Kim Jong-Un’s super serious guards on the other side.
Although language can be an issue for travellers, many of Korea’s university educated young people have learned or are learning English—it’s one of the reasons the country ranks high as a destination for English teachers from Canada and elsewhere. And let’s face it—for many that challenging alphabet just adds to South Korea’s spectre of appeal.