Republic of Korea: Gangneung
Gangneung is a city located on the east coast of South Korea with a population of just over 200,000. The city played host to the ice events of the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, including the popular figure skating and ice hockey competitions. Aside from the winter attractions, the city is best known for its proximity to the water. The beaches, Jeongdongjin and Gyeongpo, attract plenty of beachgoers in the summer, and are great spots to watch the sunrise if you’re up that early.
Gangneung has over 2,000 years of history attached to it. Records exist of the Yemaek people living here as far back as 129B.C. It became the territory of the Goguryeo Dynasty in 313A.D. and passed between the various dynasties over the centuries. The city’s historical importance is reflect in the 34 state-designated heritage sites within its borders. The city’s most treasured landmark is the Gate to an Official Inn, which is the oldest gate of the Goryeo Dynasty. As well, the wooden buildings of Ojukheon are some of the oldest pieces of architecture in the entire country. The buildings are a part of the Ojukheon Museum and were also the birthplace of the scholar Yulgok.
Aside from the heritage sites, the massive Jumunjin Seafood Market is one of the most popular attractions. It’s the largest seafood market on Korea’s east coast and has attracted Koreans and international visitors since it was founded in 1936. The city also hosts many festivals throughout the year, the most popular of which is the Gangneung Dano Festival, which is held in November. The festival sees several traditional plays and rites performed throughout the old town, the most famous being the Gwanno Mask Dance. In summer, the beaches attract visitors while the spring sees the city burst into bright colours due to an abundance of blooming azaleas.
Gangneung is large enough to have a decent night life and is close to Pyeongchang and the mountain region of Daegwallyeong, so you can consider heading to the winter-themed highlights of those destinations on day trips from the city.
Gangneung, South Korea
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