South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea is an East Asian country which occupies the southern half of the peninsula of Korea. It shares its border with one of the most militarized zones on earth i.e. North Korea. But this has never slowed down life in South Korea. South Korea has emerged as one of the most developed nations of the world and ranks twelfth in terms of its nominal GDP. According to the UN Child Flourishing Index, South Korea has grabbed the second spot in the list of the best nations to raise children given its good healthcare, nutrition and education facilities. It has the densest railways network and its citizens enjoy the highest internet speed.
Why “the Land of Morning Calm”?
Amidst the fast forward life with all the utmost infrastructural privileges, South Korea has firmly held its culture and heritage. On one hand, cities like Seoul represent the high-tech, developed nation, and on the other hand, its lush green countryside represents a different South Korea, which is slow, soulful and calm.
The countryside is a lush green terrain where several Buddhist monasteries have been established which date back to historical times.
Accompanied by shimmering and clear water bodies and elegance of cherry blossoms makes the view truly picturesque and leaves one dumbfounded. Chaohsein, which means morning freshness, is the title given to the Korea peninsula. Given its serene mountains, clean waters and green terrain especially in the morning, South Korea came to be known as “the land of morning calm”.
Let's know more about some places in South Korea that make it the Land of Morning Calm:
1. Garden of Morning Calm
Broadly, the Garden of Morning Calm is an arboretum which means a botanical garden with living specimens of varieties of trees and flowers. It is situated in Gapyeong district of South Korea. It is home to around 5000 species of trees and flowers from all over the country which are endangered or are on the verge of extinction. It is an aesthetically appealing place where one can experience the oneness of humankind with nature. It has many small gardens within itself which are seasonally opened for tourists. For example, a garden is opened during winters and tourists can also enjoy a breath-taking light show as well.
2. Nami Island
Also known as Namiseom island, it is 63 kilometres away from Seoul. The place is well known for its tree-lined roads. It is located in Gangwon Province. The island emerged when the water level increased in the North Han River. This piece of elevated land formed a half-moon shaped island. The roads on this island are immensely adorned by similar trees running along both the sides of the road. As the seasons change, the road replenishes its beauty and soaks in the colour which the season brings to their leaves. The place is exactly one of those imaginary places where one desires to stroll and then get one’s senses consumed by the woods. Beautiful pink in springs, bright yellow in summer, burnt crimson in autumn and tranquil white in winters- the leaves change the colour and so the mood of the place.
3. Mt. Namsan
Also known as Nam Mountain or Mountain Namsan, it is an 860ft high peak in the southern Seoul district. It is one of the best spots for picnic and trekking in South Korea. It offers a splendid view of downtown Seoul’s skyline. The N Seoul Tower stands on the top of it. It is surrounded by a park known as Namsan Park. A park is a fun place with fountains and tourists can also enjoy the cable car ride. The nearby village named Namsan Hanok village, once destroyed, has now been re-established with captivating traditional gardens and buildings.
Insa-dong neighbourhood in Seoul is a centre of Korean art, culture and tradition. The place is more like an eatery hub for people who want to taste the delicacies of Korean cuisine. The countryside life of Insa-dong represents Korea which is slow and culturally bounteous. These stalls open early in the morning. Hence, one can visit this phlegm neighbourhood early in the morning and experience the South Korean sun as the breeze flows by while, sipping some warm Korean soup. The place is a must-visit to actually experience the "morning calmness" which the country is known for. In the highly advanced capital city of Seoul, this neighbourhood has been the preservation camp for the Korean culture which inevitably gets side-lined in the dynamic lifestyle of big cities.
5. Gyeongbokgung Palace
It is located in Northern Seoul. It was originally built by King Taejong, the founder king of the Jaeson dynasty, in 1395. It served as home to the royal family and centre of administration in the kingdom. The palace is considered as the grandest of all the five palaces built by the Jaeson kings. Its architecture resembles a monastery levitating aside a beautiful water body. During springs, the cherry blossoms are at its full bloom. It aptly personifies the true spirit of South Korea and the quaint inner turbulence it stirs.
6. Gangchon Rail Park
It is a popular tourists’ attraction located on a discontinued railway line that connects Gangchon to Seoul. Its railway line lays side by side to Bukhangang River. Tourists can take a ride across the district enjoying the jaw-dropping scenic beauty.
South Korea has experienced atrocities in the past, whether it is the Japanese invasion, the destruction caused by the Second World War or the partition of the Korea peninsula into two independent nations. South Korea has taken all the blunts. Still, the country successfully established itself as one of the developed and progressive nations of the world, gripping over its cultural heritage alongside. The charisma of its soothing and imperturbable country life is such that it transcends the person to another dimension altogether. Sitting under a cherry blossom at the foothills in the morning breeze can be one of the most stirring and profound experiences of one’s life. The country fully justifies its moniker “The Land of Morning Calm”.