Behind the K-pop craze, ‘Land of Quiet Morning.’NYT Korea Travel Journal

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Korea is experiencing a period of cultural expansion, with K-pop and movies attracting attention from all over the world.

In Korea, which seems to be the most ‘hot’ right now, is there still a calm and quiet place to protect the country’s nickname of the quiet morning?

Adam Graham, a freelance travel reporter, told the New York Times (NYT) on the 25th (local time) that Korea’s COVID-19 quarantine regulations were significantly eased. And temple stay experiences and Jeolla-do food culture.

Reporter Graham visited Korea in March 2019, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and toured Gangwon-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and Jeolla-do to experience Korea’s nature and culture.

For reporter Graham, the process of leaving Seoul was also a unique experience. It took him two hours to get in the car and leave Seoul along the Gyeongbu Line. Uniformed apartment buildings lined the streets like dominoes, Graham reported.

The first place we visited was Seoraksan Mountain in Gangwon-do.In Gangwon-do, there was the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a conventional destination for foreign tourists, but reporter Graham chose the quiet forest of Gangwon-do.

He took the cable car up to Gwongeumseong Fortress. Seoraksan’s granite rocks, lush pine forests, valleys, and temples caught Graham’s eyes.

Reporter Graham had a temple stay at Samhwasa Temple in the East Sea, a thousand-year-old temple. It was not easy for him to spend the night on the complex and cold floor, but his 108-fold experience and appreciation of the dancing in the hall during dawn prayer seemed to have made a strong impression.

He said that although there are similar forms to temple stays in Japan, and temple stays in Korea are more simple and more like the real life of a monk.

Reporter Graham went down to Chuam Beach in the East Sea to look around Chuam Chotdaebawi Rock.

He also introduced a folk tale about this Chotdaebawi rock, where a man couldn’t decide who to choose between his mistress and his concubine, and in the end, all three became rocks.

Then, reporter Graham went down to Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, to experience a hanok.

He introduced in detail the villages intertwined with stone walls and the unique structures of hanok, such as thatched and tiled roofs and Gudeuljang.

At sunset, he walked through the pine forest and watched elk passing through the riverside reed forest.

Reporter Graham’s next destination was Jeolla-do. He explained that Jeolla-do is also famous for its good food in Korea.

He stayed overnight at the famous hanok Hagdang in Jeonju and experienced a 25-cheop meal for breakfast.

As a side dish, saenghapjak, a representative dish of this place, was served. This is a jeon made with clams, beef, and shiitake mushrooms.

In Graham’s ‘Quiet Korea,’ our culture, which drew attention to the world, overlapped.

He added that the mountains of Gangwon-do were the backdrop for the 2017 film “Okja,” directed by Bong Joon-ho.

Also, introducing Jeolla-do food, he said that the temple food of Baekyangsa Temple in Jeollanam-do had appeared in the Netflix series ‘Chef’s Table.

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