If you love maps and data, you should click on over to TwistedSifter.com, which has rounded up 40 maps to give you perspective on the world. See the global distribution of McDonald’s and the rainbow of Antarctica’s time zones. You can marvel at America’s rivers and many researchers, share the love of coffee and beer and sigh at our resistance to the metric system and paid maternity leave. One of the more surprising maps shows the busiest air travel routes of 2012, with the busiest flight path between Seoul and the island of Jeju, the “Hawaii of Korea.” There are no U.S. or European cities on the list, but if you’ve seen enough maps, you’ll have enough perspective to see we’re just a small part of this big globe.
We’ve all heard of destination weddings, but would you travel to another country just to have your wedding photos taken? That’s the latest travel trend in Asia as increasing numbers of well-to-do Chinese couples head to South Korea to have their marriage immortalized on film.
Some Chinese feel that South Korea is more sophisticated when it comes to things like fashion, makeup and urban style, and believe that getting their photos taken there will result in a more glamorous finished product — not to mention give them bragging rights among friends and family back home. The idea of South Korea as a chic destination has been growing in China thanks to Korean pop videos, such as Psy’s “Gangnam Style” as well as South Korean TV shows.Newlywed couples take part in glamorous photo shoots in the city’s upscale neighborhoods, hoping to mimic the lifestyles of their favorite South Korean celebrities. However, it’s not just real locales that provide the backdrop for the wedding snaps — interestingly, many Chinese also get their bridal portraits taken in front of facades that resemble the Loire Valley, Bordeaux and other European destinations. Apparently, the Western sets look better when you’re ditching the traditional Chinese wedding attire for a white ball gown.
The whole concept has been a big boon for South Korean photographers, some of whom see 50 to 60 Chinese couples a month. But South Korean glamour photography doesn’t come cheap — wedding travel packages that include transportation, assistants and hotels can set a couple back $2000-$4000.
American Airlines recently announced a new direct route between Dallas/Fort Worth and Seoul‘s Incheon International Airports in an agreement with Japan Airlines. In addition to mentioning the “special attention [they will give] to the culture of the airline’s Korean customers” in their press release, American also briefly mentions offering “Shin Ramen Noodle Cup as a snack option to customers in all cabins.” Shin Ramen is the most popular brand of instant ramen in Korea, where the cheap noodles are so loved and a part of the culture that they are often sold in restaurants and commercials featuring the infamous PSY constantly air on television.
American Airlines is clear that this will be served only as a snack and not as a replacement for a meal on the nearly 14-hour flight. However, with the far from pleasant reputation that airline food has, adding it to the menu is more likely to receive jeers from passengers than cheers, regardless of the renown it has in its home country.
[via The Korea Times]
According to a declassified report obtained by South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo, the naval city of Wonsan is being developed into a tourist resort. It current hosts a naval base and numerous heavy industry factories, but has apparently long been a favorite holiday destination of the ruling Kim family.
Viewed in the context of other wacky and nonsensical North Korean projects, building a beach resort in a polluted, industrialized and militarized bay seems about par for the course. But contrary to the perceived isolation of the country, North Korea does welcome several thousand tourists every year, and the Kim regime is certainly aware of the financial incentives of increased tourism. Only a few weeks ago did the country open up a city on the border with China to Western visitors.
But North Korea isn’t going to replace Cancun anytime soon. The development project seems to be stuck while the country seeks $1 million of international investment, which will almost certainly run afoul of current UN sanctions.
Less than an hour bus ride outside of the nondescript city of Andong in central South Korea, a little village doesn’t just hold onto the past, it embodies it. Hahoe Folk Village (pronounced Hahwe) has been inhabited for well over 600 years, with many artifacts and buildings considered to be Korean national treasures.
Today, it stands as a unique relic for visitors to experience an authentic view into a historic village. If it weren’t for the information center, the surprisingly cheap admission fee and the two guides I saw, Hahoe would seem as if it were just a small village that modernization accidentally passed over.
Representative of Joseon Dynasty traditions, locals roam and work in period clothes, transporting water in wooden buckets strapped to their backs and de-wrinkling clothes by banging on them with wooden pins. The number of re-enactors is kept to a modest handful, and they offer stories and information to those that are curious while letting those that just want to silently peek around do so.
At Hahoe, you’re mostly left to explore on your own through the alleys and farms, on the riverbank and into many of the homes and unattended museums. It’s an experience best taken at one’s own pace.
The Nakdong River snakes almost completely around the village, creating beautiful sandy banks that were no doubt an amazing place to cool off. The striking cliff that rises over the river, referred to as Buyongdae, offers fantastic views of the village from above.
Many of the historical homes in the area, most of which are hundreds of years old, are available to the public to spend the night in. Disconnect yourself from modern society and go back to simpler living as the rooms often push the term “basic accommodation” to its limits. They are often just a 7-foot square with a fan, light, traditional futon-style bedding and an electrical outlet.
For more stories about Korean culture, eccentricities and more, browse “The Kimchi-ite” archives by clicking here.