Exploring the Natural Paradise of South Korea

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Author: Seline Suriel Núñez

Korea is a country that is characterized by its variety of landscapes, ecosystems, and species, both animals and vegetation. The country has a wide variety of ecosystems, from mountains and forests to rivers and coasts, and one of its most characteristic features is the presence of the four seasons. Each of them offers a different and unique landscape, full of colors and contrasts, which arouses the interest of many travelers and lovers of biodiversity. For this reason, in this blog, we are going to describe some of the places where the nature of Korea stands out the most.

(South Korea travel guide) Picture taken from: sheisiwanderlust.com

The National parks in Korea are protected areas that encompass some of the most representative natural places in the country. In total, there are 22 land and 4 marine national parks, which occupy 6.6% of the national territory.

Picture taken from: Google

In the previous image, a reference map of the locations of the national parks in South Korea is shown. Each park has its own distinctive feature, such as its geography, its terrestrial biodiversity, or its cultural value. Among the best-known are:

The Jirisan National Park, the first and largest in the country with a surface of 471.8 km²

Located on the borders of the provinces of Jeollanam-do, Jeollabuk-do and Gyeongsangnam-do, this park is the first designated by Korea, where the highest peak in the entire mainland is located, and there you can find a great biodiversity. The most nature-loving visitors can enjoy a good number of both animal and plant species and various architectural structures, such as Buddhist temples.

Picture taken from: Google

Hallasan National Park, where the highest volcano in Korea is located

It’s located on Jeju Island, Hallasan National Park is known for being one of the must-see places on the island. This park attracts locals and tourists from all over the world. Visitors can enjoy several hiking trails, such as, the Eorimok Trail (어리목), the Yeongsil Walker (영실), the Seongpanak Trail (성판악), the Gwaneumsa Trail (관음사), and the Donnaeko Trail. There are five tickets for the national park; each one may have a different schedule so it is advisable to check before planning the excursion.

Picture taken from: Google

The Seoraksan National Park is home to a wide variety of animal and plant species

This park encompasses four cities and regional districts, which are: Sokcho, Inje, Goseong, and Yangyang. In this, it not only has natural resources; the art and culture of both man and nature are reflected here. The rock formations are accompanied by lakes, rivers, waterfalls, valleys, and forests. Different Buddhist temples can be found through the tour such as the Sinheungsa Zen Temple, a monument to the peaceful unification of Korea.

Picture taken from: Google

Without a doubt, national parks in Korea are an ideal destination for nature lovers because of the various opportunities they offer to go hiking, camping, observe wildlife, and learn about the history and culture of the country through the knowledge acquired on the excursions after seeing and knowing new places and species.

In the same way, the country has the diversity of its seasons, which provides  unique landscapes with colors that the cities paint during each of them. In spring (March-May), you can enjoy the blooming  of cherry trees, apricots, and azaleas, which cover the country with pink and white tones. In summer (June-August), the climate is warm and humid, ideal for visiting the beaches and the southern islands, where you can practice diving and surfing. In autumn (September-November), the leaves of the trees change color and create an impressive visual spectacle, especially in the mountains; and in winter (December-February), the snow covers the landscape and allows you to enjoy activities such as skiing and ice skating.

(Korea 4 seasons) Picture taken from: Pinterest

Another aspect that makes nature special in Korea is the richness of its flora and fauna. The country is home to more than 20,000 species of plants and more than 8,000 species of animals, many of them endemic or in danger of extinction. Some of them are:

The Korean goral, a type of mountain goat

Picture taken from: Google

The Asian black bear, which inhabits forests and mountainous areas

Picture taken from: Google

The Korean pheasant, which, in its natural environment, lives in meadows and open forests

Picture taken from: Google

The crowned crane is a symbol of peace and longevity

Picture taken from: Google

Due to its natural wealth, Korea has a great tradition of respect and conservation towards the care of animal species, which is reflected in various aspects of its geography, climate, and biodiversity, such as in its national parks, its natural reserves, and its botanical gardens. Although Korea is mainly known for its rapid economic and industrial development, the country is also home to a variety of natural resources that contribute to its well-being and sustainable development.

(The 10 best cities to see in South Korea) Picture taken from: ladyavellanaviajes.com (2023)

Finally, nature in Korea also has great cultural and historical importance, since many natural places are related to legends, myths, and religious beliefs, which are part of the country’s intangible heritage. For example, Mount Paektu is considered the place of origin of the Korean people and a sacred site for shamanism. Mount Seorak is famous for its Buddhist temples and rock formations. The Han River is the longest in the country and it crosses the capital, Seoul, where you can see lights shows and fountains; and Jeju Island is a very popular tourist destination for its natural beauty and unique culture.

For all this, we can say that nature in South Korea is an essential pillar that defines the identity of the country. Its diversity, beauty, and meaning make it an incomparable attraction for visitors and a source of pride for the inhabitants. From majestic mountains to serene plains and rivers that tell the history of the country, this natural wealth is a valued and preserved treasure. Sustainable tourism takes advantage of these wonders to connect people with the very essence of Korea, creating an enriching experience that endures in the memories of all those who experience it.

Reader: Andrea Ramírez

Reviewed by: Luisa Quintero

References: 

SOUTH KOREA: MOUNT JIRISAN NATIONAL PARK ( February 1st, 2023)

https://aginformacion.tv/corea-del-sur-parque-nacional-del-monte-jirisan/

Hallasan Mountain, an ideal place to enjoy spring (August 8th, 2020)

https://spanish.korea.net/NewsFocus/HonoraryReporters/view?articleId=195811

Nature & Leisure (2023)

https://spanish.korea.net/AboutKorea/Tourism/Recreation-Nature

Nature in South Korea (August 25th, 2021)

https://www.destinosasiaticos.com/blog/naturaleza-en-corea/

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