Hiking in Korea

Hiking Mt. Jiri

A few weeks ago, as spring was just beginning to give way to summer, I took a whirlwind trip to Jirisan National Park in the south central part of the country. As South Korea’s biggest national park, it offers some amazing scenery and spectacular views! The only unfortunate thing is that there’s no major city nearby, so getting there without a car of my own proved to be just as exhuasting as actually climbing around on the mountain (literally 12 hours of roundtrip travel and 12 hours of hiking/being out and about, all in the same span of 24 hours). But it was worth it!

Mountains and the Korean Mind (Seoraksan)

Korea, the land of the Morning Calm, is also known as the land of the mountains. Approximately 70% of the country is covered by the graceful bones of Mother Earth, shaping the minds and the history of the Korean people unlike any natural feature found on the peninsula. Mountains feature prominently in the country’s arts, culture and religion, some even go as far as to say that it was the Korean mountains that helped defeat the first Japanese invasion under Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Imiji Wars (1592-1598), with a little help from the Chinese and local hero, the Great Admiral Yi of course.

Hiking at Gwanaksan

Although geologically stable with no traces of volcanic murmurings today, the Korean peninsula was once a tectonic hotbed of activity. The remaining legacy of that era is a nation criss-crossed with mountain ranges to such an extent that only 2% of the country has sufficient lowlands to support permanent crops.

But for the common plebs who hold less interest in such non-newsworthy affairs, this just means that there are lots of mountains to climb.

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