Hiking in Korea
This year, I have wanted to focus on aspects of Korean culture that I was not aware of before my first visit several years ago. Therefore, I have chosen to write about qualities of Korean culture that I believe resonate with Norwegians. My last article as a citizen journalist will introduce the main reason why I fell in love with Korea and why I still feel so at home here.
Like many Norwegians, I often go hiking. Little did I know that Korea is such a wonderful place to hike, and that so many Koreans are avid hikers. Seventy percent of Korea is covered by mountains, and it is easy to hit the trail wherever you are. What is more, mountains in Korea are made very accessible. Maps and signs along the way clearly mark the trails, in addition to colourful ribbons hung on the branches by hiking groups who have gone before you. Moreover, the trail will have stairs covering some of the steepest parts, so that you can concentrate on the next step ahead of you. Even if you hike the tallest mountain of South Korea, Hallasan (1,950 meters), stairs will help you reach the peak. If you need to take a break on the way to the top, you can rest your legs and sit down on a bench. Or, if you would rather exercise more, you can stop at the public exercise areas and try some of the equipment.
Hiking in Korea is often done in a group, and it can be a very social experience. It is a popular yearround activity in which you easily feel included. Groups of Koreans wearing colourful hiking clothes cheer as you pass each other on the trail, and it is an excellent place to practice some Korean phrases. And, if you walk past a tour group who have sat down for a picnic, be prepared to be offered a shot of soju or some fruit.
Korea is a land full of contrasts, and although city life can be fascinating, I wholeheartedly recommend hiking in Korea as an activity to not only challenge yourself, but also to experience Korean hospitality.