Korea’s top twelve record-setting tourism destinations were revealed by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) at a celebration held on December 11 to mark the 50th anniversary of its establishment.
Out of 28 candidates with a significant record in the tourism sector during the KTO’s tenure, twelve tourism destinations were selected via online and mobile surveys conducted by the KTO.
[Memories of Winter Sonata remain in place]
Nami Island in the Bukhangang is famously known to Korean and non-Korean tourists alike as the filming location of Korean hit drama Winter Sonata. True to its nickname ”Republic of Trees,” Nami Island leads visitors down endless woodland paths. The Metasequoia Trail, in particular, has gained unprecedented popularity since actor Bae Yong-jun and actress Choi Ji-wu were featured walking together here in the popular drama. In addition, a collection of galleries, museums, exhibitions, and craft workshops are prepared with diverse cultural offerings to welcome the inflow of visitors.
[Korea’s first non-verbal musical Nanta]
Korea’s first non-verbal musical performance Nanta, incorporating free rhythmical movements with unique traditional drumbeats, brought fresh attention to domestic and international performing stages. Since its debut in 1997, Nanta has drawn the largest audiences in the history of performing arts in Korea and made its way further into off Broadway in 2004, a first for Asian countries.
[Jeju’s infinite charms]
Seongsan Ilchulbong and Olle Trail also made their way onto the list. Both are on Jeju Island which was designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2007 and the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. Seongsan Ilchulbong has long won international acclaim. Located at the eastern tip of the island, Seongsan Ilchulbong preserves Korea’s unique marine life including topographic and geographic features and also its scenic landscape draws millions of visitors.
Jeju Olle Trail is 200 kilometers of walking paths, connecting each ten- to 20-kilometer course and leading travelers all along the south coast of Jeju Island. This November, the final track was completed, opening up a total of 430 kilometers on 21 courses. Seongsan Ilchulbong and Jeju Olle Trail have been recognized for their contribution to drawing in the one millionth visitor to Jeju Island this year.
[First national park of Korea]
Registered in 1967, Jirisan National Park is Korea’s first national park. The mountain has the largest footprint in Korea, spanning an area of 471,758 square kilometers and incorporating one city, four counties, and three provinces -- Gyeongnam (South Gyeongsang Province), Jeonnam (South Jeolla Province), and Jeonbuk (North Jeolla Province).
With more than 4,000 rare species of flora and fauna inhabiting the park alongside national treasures such as Waun Cheonyeongsong (Millennium Pine Tree), Jirisan has raised the profile of biodiversity conservation. In addition, the full scenic view from each mountaintop has captured the hearts of millions of visitors.
Seven more tourism spots were included on the list for their outstanding features. Geumgangsan offered the first chance for South Koreans to visit North Korea in 50 years of division. The sea fountain of Mokpo was recognized for its dazzling water show interplayed by more than 292 LED lights, 73 multidirectional nozzles, and 203 airjets, while Mireuksan Ropeway was recognized for having the longest cable car ropeway in Korea offering a grand view of the whole Hallyeosudo Marine Park.
The list also includes Busan International Film Festival, Busan Songdo Beach, Everland Theme Park, and Incheon Bridge. For more details about each location, click the name to follow the link.