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Welcoming autumn on Korea's Rivers

2012/09/22 | 181 views |  | Permalink | Source

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A class of schoolchildren visits Dumulmeori, a scenic site in Gyeonggi-do where the Namhan and Bukhan rivers meet (photo: Gonggam Korea).

Walking, biking, or camping -- with plenty of new scenic trails, bike paths, and camping areas around the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Yeongsan rivers, anything is possible for the willing traveler. And as the summer heat gives way to crisper autumn breezes, visitors to Korea's major rivers are discovering that these newest leisure destinations can be enjoyed year-round.

A day trip along the Han River

"We went for a stroll along Ipo Weir last night, and were struck by how much cleaner and fresher the entire riverside area has become", said Park Min-sik, a resident of Yeoju in Gyeonggi-do (Gyeonggi Province).

The Han River, where Ipo Weir is located, is more than just one of Seoul's most visible landmarks, as recent visitors are discovering. At Dumulmeori, for example, the Namhan (South Han) and Bukhan (North Han) rivers meet to form a beautiful site, adorned with centuries-old zelkova trees, that is a popular destination for photographers. For learners of Korean history, a recommended stop is the Dasan Heritage Site, which houses the writings and inventions as well as the grave of renowned Joseon scholar Jeong Yak-yong, also known as Dasan.

Visitors can also tour the KOFIC Namyangju Studios, which provided the backdrop for popular 2012 films such as "Nameless Gangster" and "Dancing Queen", for a behind-the-scenes look at how movies are produced. Those who prefer to spend their time outdoors can make their way to the local ecological reserve or to Sujongsa Temple. Built in 1458 near the summit of Ungil Mountain, the temple is complete with an octagonal five-story stone pagoda and a traditional tea room that overlooks the tranquil waters of Dumulmeori.

The eoksae or wild grass fields in Yangpyeong County in Gyeonggi-do, located close to the Han River, are a favorite nature getaway for visitors from nearby cities (photo: Gonggam Korea).

Also located close by the Han River are the eoksae or reed fields in Yangpyeong County, a favorite spot for college students and coworkers on their seasonal outings. With lush wild grasses, easily spotted fireflies, a flowing creek, and a picturesque view of the nearby Baekun Mountain (there are over 30 mountains of the same name, meaning white cloud, located throughout Korea), visitors from nearby cities can take a break from the busyness of urban life amid the stillness of untouched nature.

At Ipo Weir, families can find a variety of ideal leisure options, including a picnic area, campgrounds, a sports park, and an ecological park. A highlight of a visit to Ipo Weir is a tour of the Jungmisan Observatory, built 437 kilometers above sea level. Located in the Jungmisan Recreational Forest, the observatory offers one of the best views of the night sky to be found close to Seoul, and over 3,000 stars can be seen on a clear autumn night.

At the Jungmisan Observatory, located nearby Ipo Weir, offers some of best views of the night sky on a clear autumn night (photo: Gonggam Korea).

A two-day course for twice the fun

For those looking for a longer visit to the Han River, an ideal two-day tour starts at Yeongneung, the royal tomb of King Sejong, where the famous Joseon king is buried with his queen Soheon. In addition to the burial mound and surrounding statues, the site features an exhibit of the scientific devices invented under the king's patronage as well as stretches of pine trees.

The nearby Yeoju Weir has also been designed to bring to mind the legacy of King Sejong, its various parts resembling that of the hemispherical sundial known as angbu ilgu as well as the water clock known as jagyeokru, both of which were invented during the king's reign. A wildflower garden, all-seasons terrace, fishery, and reed beds round out the facilities to make for a comfortable and relaxing visit.

At Yeongneung, the royal tomb of Joseon's famous King Sejong, visitors can tour the royal burial site as well as exhibits that introduce the scientific devices invented during the king's reign (photo: Gonggam Korea).

At Gangcheon Weir, those looking for a unique experience can set out on the Namhan River on hwangpo sailboats, passing by the local white heron as well as the silvery sands of the riverbanks. An important method of transportation as well as trade during the Joseon kingdom, the hwangpo sailboats leave on the hour throughout the day and provide the perfect introduction to the scenery that surrounds the Han River.

A hwangpo sailboat, a key method of transportation and trade during the Joseon Kingdom, makes its way down the Namhan River. Visitors can tour the river scenery on these boats, which leave on the hour throughout the day (photo: Gonggam Korea).

For travelers with a taste for adventure, the Han River also offers three trails that can be traveled completely on foot, winding around Dumulmeori as well as Dasan Heritage Site. More information can be found at the related websites below.

Yangpyeong Eco City:
Namyangju City:
Gyeonggi Province:

Adapted from Gonggam Korea
Translated by Kwon Jungyun Staff Writer

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