This Easter I was fortunate enough to jet off to South Korea for three weeks. From super yummy food and edgy photo opportunities to attract more insta-followers to visiting one of the most dangerous borders in the world, these are just a few of my highlights from my latest adventure in South Korea!
- Korean BBQ
Within hours of landing in Seoul, we went for our first traditional Korean BBQ and it was AMAZING. The one we went to was a buffet, so went up to the front of the restaurant to collect plates of assorted raw and cooked meats and vegetables etc. Upon return to the table, we then had a small BBQ plate in the middle where we cooked meat to our hearts’ content. There’s nothing quite like going out to cook your own food! And unlike the traditional UK BBQs there was none of the sitting-on-the-floor nonsense but rather comfortable plush seats.
- Abandoned amusement park – Yongma Land
After a few searches and scrolls on the internet, I came across an abandoned amusement park attraction. The park had been financially unstable for a while and unfortunately closed down in 2011. However, an enterprising local then discovered a market for individuals and groups who would pay him £3 entrance fee to access the park to take super hip photos. #OnlyInSouthKorea seemed appropriate for this park, where predominantly groups of Korean teens were wandering around rusty metal rides, broken dodgem cars and general debris for the next perfect angle. Many of them had even brought along props and even a ladder for the full effect. What looked like a health and safety nightmare was an edgy Korean selfie paradise. If you want to see my cringey attempt at an edgy photo then click here.
- DMZ (De-militarised Zone)
As the rising tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world have been making the headlines, the DMZ was one of main places that I really wanted to visit – a really unique opportunity to view firsthand one of the most simmering places of conflict in the 21st century. For around £30 we were taken to the border (just 4km away from North Korea) and given a guided tour and explanation on the history of the divide in history. From the South Korean border we were able to hear the music blaring from North Korea’s propaganda village and see the buildings on the other side through binocolars. The tour also included entrance to the tunnels, which had been created by North Korea in an attempt to invade South Korea (and discovered). Something that I found quite ironic is that North Korea had made these tunnels in the effort to invade South Korea, but South Korea has somehow managed to turn this threat into a widely-popular tourist attraction, making a fair economic gain.
- 7/11 convenience:
Ever been fed up of the £3 Sainsbury’s meal deal and had an eye on their microwave meals but sighed in sadness as you realised there were no microwaves nearby? Fear not, South Korea have sorted it. Within their 7/11s (a branch of convenience stores), there are a selection of quick microwave meals (as well fresh fried chicken) which you can purchase and microwave instore but also a dedicated eating area to eat the meal. After your meal, the store also had anything from fresh iced drinks and magazines to bathroom bleach all for your convenience. Need a place to chill after school with friends to eat for cheap? This is where many Korean teens hang out.
- PC cafés/ Pet cafés:
Koreans love entertainment and their out-of-the-norm cafés are definitely some cafés that I will never forget. First there were PC cafés where individuals can literally rent cheap access to a professional gaming PC for a few hours. It was a really chilled place full of gamers and there were even groups of Koreans who headed to the PC café after a night out. Animal lovers would love pet cafés, where for the purchase of a drink gives you free access to café where dogs (and other animals including sheep and raccoons depending on the café!) are allowed to roam around freely. Although I’m not the greatest animal fan, the café did a great job at sourcing particularly adorable dogs (and coincidentally a cute group of toddlers) which led to a constant income of pet cuddling customers.
- Gamchon Culture village
This village was a place of refuge during the Korean war and has since been preserved for traditional Korean culture. Locals welcome tourists into their village to buy their goods as well as introducing us to new ideas such as fried ice cream. The child within me was also overjoyed to discover a stamp challenge which its completion gifted us with free postcards. For this, there were stamp points scattered around the village and following the route on the map meant that we did not miss any cool art or parts of the city. For a small price, tourists were also able to rent hanbok, where they could dress up in traditional Korean clothes for the authentic photos as well as discounted entry for numerous attractions.
- PooPoo land
If there was ever a place to make an attraction completely dedicated to poo, it would of course be South Korea. The country have somehow managed to transform a number two into a number one attraction in Seoul (gettit?) Although the attraction seemed a lot more impressive on TripAdvisor, it was still an interesting hour where there were several photo opportunities to take photos next to giant toilets, numerous poo facts on the walls and we got the opportunity to pretend to be a piece of poo climbing through an obstacle course (representing a digestive system) before taking a slide of faith and being crowned a poo master. Perhaps I might leave the poo master title off my CV but it means that I will be prepared for the next time we have the awkward “fun fact about you” icebreaker.