Tourists Invited To Strip Down In South Korea

nude beach
Memphis CVB, Flickr

While South Korea’s capital city, Seoul, might be a big tourist draw card with plenty of Gangnam Style flair to attract visitors, other parts of the country have had to get more creative when it comes to promoting tourism.

Gangwon Province in the country’s northeast figures nudity might be just the ticket to increasing visitor numbers. It’s planning to open South Korea’s first nude beach in the hopes that tourists will set their sights beyond the capital and venture up north for a bit of skinny dipping.The beach primarily will be aimed at foreigners and may even be open to just overseas visitors initially, as many locals balk at the idea of stripping down at the beach. “Koreans actually love nude beaches when they’re traveling abroad, but the problem with having one within Korea is the fact that Korean society is so interconnected. They won’t be able to comfortably go to a nude beach due to the thought that people they know will find out about it quite easily,” a local reporter told CNN.

Korean tourism officials say they hope to eventually create all sorts of different beaches aimed at families, couples and even pets. They plan to have the first nude beach up and running by 2017.

Photo Of The Day: Hallabong

Photo of the day
This Photo of the Day, titled “Hallabong,” comes from Gadling Flickr pool member Mike Rowe and was captured using a Cannon EOS 40D.

In the caption for this image, Mike describes something he found in his travels, has searched for elsewhere and had limited luck finding.

“Famous in Korea is the fruit called Hallabong. Seemingly a Japanese development called the Dekopan, the Koreans have adopted it and claimed it for themselves … sweet, much sweeter than most citrus, and a truly delicious fruit. I’ve not seen them in Australia yet, but … they can be found in the US.”

Have you ever done that? I did the same thing in the past. Then one day I realized that trying to bring home some of that experience is not nearly as good as being there. That I can only get them there fuels one more reason to return.

Want to be featured? Upload your best shots to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Several times a week we choose our favorite images from the pool as a Photo of the Day.

Tips for being featured: add a caption describing the image and your personal experience when capturing it, details of the photography gear used and any tips you might have for others wanting to emulate your work.

Now, you can also submit photos through Instagram; just mention @GadlingTravel and use the hashtag #gadling when posting your images.

South Korea Assures Country Is Safe For Travel

North Korea has issued a warning to foreign companies and tourists to leave South Korea in order to avoid harm in the event of a nuclear war, according to USA Today. The message came Tuesday, just after the joint industrial zone, the last cross-border cooperation in the long-divided Korean peninsula, was closed last week.

Fearing drops in tourism numbers, the government officials in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, called a meeting Monday to discuss the escalating situation. The city is located just 118 miles from North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, and is well within range of hundreds – if not thousands – of North Korean artillery and missile units.But in reality, no country has issued alerts or warnings concerning travel to South Korea, and the country’s tourism numbers are up, writes CNN. Last week, the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) announced a record number of visitors for March, with the inbound international tourists numbering more than a million for the first time in history. Although tourism numbers are not yet available for April, Korean Air and several major hotels told the news outlet there has been no noticeable dip in bookings.

“North Korea has a long history of making confrontational rhetoric and empty threats to South Korea, the United States and other nations as well,” Sejoon You, the executive director of KTO’s New York office, said in an announcement to the travel industry. “All the experts in this matter, both international and based in the U.S., agree that there is no real or present danger that North Korea would act on its threats.”

“The real situation in Korea is completely normal, as the daily lives of the Korean people and its visitors remain peaceful, safe and uninterrupted,” You added. “Korea remains a safe, pleasant and beautiful destination to be enjoyed now and later. All hotels, airports, airlines, cities and attractions are operating normally.”

Our own Jonathan Kramer can attest to that. He’s on the ground in South Korea writing “The Kimchi-ite,” and shows no signs of stopping soon.

[Photo credit: The U.S. Army / Wikimedia Commons]

The Kimchi-ite: 10 More Differences Between South Korea And The Rest Of The World

In the U.S., there is the art of tipping. In Finland, there is no such thing as college tuition; it’s almost completely subsidized by tax Euros. And in Ethiopia, food is eaten only with the bare right hand. Given South Korea‘s unique history and culture within Asia, there is no shortage of comparisons that can be made between it and the rest of the world. Even though I already reported on “10 Differences Between South Korea And The Rest Of The World,” more and more unique cultural curiosities are revealed to me everyday – things I couldn’t have possibly conceived of back in Florida.

1. Fan Death
Possibly the most internationally notorious Korean cultural quirk is the belief that if you fall asleep in a closed room with a fan on you will die. Theories include the fans causing hypothermia or even that the fan is removing all the oxygen from the room. Today, the myth is largely dying out with the new generation, none of my Korean friends believe it whatsoever, but they mention that they heard about it all the time when they were younger.

2. Koreans work more
On average, Koreans work 2,057 hours per year, 14% more than Americans, who on average work 1,797 hours per year. That’s an additional six workweeks per year. But that doesn’t really show the whole story and is probably only the officially reported and paid hours. It isn’t entirely uncommon for people to work 6 days a week, clocking in over 10 hours each day for a typical office job, with little or no overtime pay.3. Conscription
All South Korean males between the ages of 18 and 35 are required to serve in the military for between 21 and 24 months. This two-year commitment is a matter of much pride, controversy and angst amongst Korean men.

4. Don’t whistle after dark
Whistling at night is considered bad luck; it’s thought that it will beckon snakes and spirits.

5. Free and amazing delivery
Delivery is gold is Seoul. You can order virtually anything, at anytime, anywhere you are. Usually there are no delivery fees and you will often get full-blown, non-disposable plates and metal utensils. All you have to do, is leave it all out front of your apartment and the delivery guy will come by and pick it up later. Many restaurants that are not known for delivering in the U.S. have fleets of delivery scooters in Seoul – even McDonald’s.

6. Please eat. Don’t let it get cold
If you eat dinner at a restaurant with others, you will almost definitely not receive your food at the same time as each other. Your food just comes as it is finished in the kitchen.

7. No falling or springing
When my Facebook feed was recently flooded with status updates from my American friends groaning over an hour of lost sleep due to daylight savings time, I just laughed and savored the fact that my sleep schedule was not affected. Like most of the rest of the Eastern world, Korea does not observe daylight savings time. I personally love it. It allows me to get a better feel on the passage of time over each year.

8. Rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Within Korean cuisine, there is no such thing as breakfast food or even specific lunch or dinner food. Most meals can be had during any time of the day, and all meals are accompanied by a helping of kimchi. McDonald’s does serve a typical Western breakfast menu, but the Korean restaurant next door does not.

9. No waiting on hold
Customer service is seen as essential, and business hotline wait times are kept to an extreme minimum, with people getting angry if they are left on hold for more than three or four minutes. When I tell people that it isn’t uncommon in the States for you to be on hold for an hour or more when calling the cable company on the weekend, they simply cannot believe it. One Korean friend who used to live in New York City once called the Metro Transit Authority and hung up after being on hold for 20 minutes, thinking that it was impossible to be left unattended to for so long and so her phone must be broken.

10. Limited travel patience
Earlier today, my Korean girlfriend asked me how far Disney World is from where I grew up in Miami. I replied, “Oh, not that far … less than a four-hour drive.” She simply could not believe that I would call four hours away “not that far.” South Korea is a relatively small country, about the size of Indiana. Driving from one extreme end of the country to the other takes five hours. Even then, there’s still the option of high-speed rail, which will cut down your travel time to just three hours.

Be sure to check out the first list of Korean eccentricities here. As always, you can find more on Korean culture, food and eccentricities from previous Kimchi-ite posts here.

[Photo credit: Jonathan Kramer]

Darwin safety becomes a political issue

No, this is not a rallying cry for fundamentalists or a push for evolutionary biology: I’m talking about Darwin, Australia.

After three tourists from Korea were assaulted and robbed, the Northeast Territory Opposition Leader, Terry Mills, called Darwin unsafe for travel. The visitors were relieved of their cigarettes, cell phone and a pair of sunglasses while walking to a bus stop in Parap. Three boys and a girl approached. The girl asked for cigarettes, and the boys attacked the target.

There have been other attacks in the area, as well, including one on a 75-year-old man who was beaten for pocket change en route to a bus stop in Palmerston. The week before that, 20 youths surrounded and allegedly bashed a man near a bus station.

Mills’ message has more to do with perception, it seems, than genuine travel advisory. Tourists, he worries, will get the impression that Darwin isn’t safe.