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How to discover another Korea: let’s go hiking!
2016년 03월 28일 (월) 11:24:58 Quentin Marquet evoice@ewha.ac.kr
   
Quentin Marquet
(University of Bordeaux)

Bukhansan, Seoraksan, Jirisan, Hallasan… These names are famous all over Korea. 70 percent of Korean landscape is composed of mountains so it’s not complicated to understand why hiking is really popular here. When I arrived in Seoul, back in August 2015, I was so surprised to see how close this huge city is to the mountains and how easy it is to access them for a day. From Namsan to Gwanaksan through Bukhansan, the lung of Seoul, all of these mountains of different size offer a great range of view on the city (when it’s not too foggy though).
I go on hiking trips in Korea enough to know that on weekends the main paths are really crowded of rainbow-colored hikers with their sticks and big bags. They are mainly old people. It’s really impressive to see them moving with agility on rocks which they know by heart. They gather on weekends to share a big lunch, drink makgeolli, a Korean alcoholic beverage, pray in the temples and especially, I think, to keep a good shape. A great thing is that sometimes when you go around a group of hikers having their lunch or a snack, they don’t hesitate to invite you to drink makgeolli or eat some desserts, even if they don’t know a single word of English. They are really proud to show a part of their culture to foreign people.
If you go to any Korean mountain you will appreciate how clean it is. Nobody throws their garbage away in the wildlife. Moreover, they are really well maintained by the Korean national parks workers; there are useful signs and maps everywhere. The paths are clean enough to make a nighttime hike possible. You just need to get your headlamp. They also provide a lot of different trails for each mountains and some interesting, original ways that we can’t find in France, I think due to security reasons (Y-valley for example in Dobongsan which mix kind of climbing with hiking). There are also a lot of facilities in Korean mountains: toilets, source water everywhere, a lot of food you can buy down the mountains and also a lot of hiking stores where you can get your full gear as Korean hikers do.
Hiking is a hobby which puts together respect towards nature and other people, helping friends or unknown persons, and always discovering new aspects of landscapes and wildlife. Hiking is not a competition so you can do it at your own pace (just come back on time to get the last bus or subway).
When I go back to France I will miss some little things which belong to hiking in Korea: 2000 won kimbaps, a Korean dish, you have for lunch, makgeolli you have pretty much when you reach the top, going to mountains by subway and seeing all the hikers and their colorful outfits and so on.
So in order to really enjoy Seoul during your exchange semester or year, let’s go hiking! Are you free on Sunday?

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