By Reuben Staines
A local adventure club is helping expats liven up their weekends and explore parts of South Korea that aren’t marked on the average tourist map.
Members of Adventure Korea, left photo, hike in the mountains during a camping trip in February. In the right photo, an expat participates in the Vivaldi Park Crazy Ski Competition as part of another club trip.
/Courtesy of Adventure Korea
Adventure Korea founder Park Seok-jin said he established the club in 2001 after hearing foreign friends complaining about the lack of outdoors activities to do on the weekends.
``A majority of foreigners are just drinking in Itaewon or Hongdae,’’ he said, referring to two popular expat entertainment districts. ``They always complain that there is nothing to do. But if they go outside of Seoul, there are a lot of places to visit.’’
Park said Adventure Korea aimed to provide an easy and affordable way for foreigners _ especially those with limited Korean language skills _ to get out of the capital city and explore South Korea’s natural environment.
He started out by arranging several small group trips but found the club quickly grew to the point where outings were planned every weekend.
More than 10,000 people have registered at Adventure Korea’s Web site over the past four years and the club has run well over a hundred expeditions, Park said.
From barehanded ice fishing to hunting for wild ginseng or mud wrestling, the club focuses on unusual activities and scenic destinations that are not offered by commercial travel agents.
``We want to show real aspects of Korea and its people since there are many relatively unknown and beautiful locations around Korea,’’ he said. ``Traveling around Korea is the best way for foreigners to understand Korean culture and society.’’
Park works along with four or five other Korean tour leaders to arrange the expeditions and manage the club. He said Adventure Korea is non-commercial and all guides work on a volunteer basis.
Expeditions cost anywhere between 30,000 won for a day-trip and 240,000 won for a three-day outing.
With winter well entrenched, many of the club’s outings for December and January revolve around skiing and snowboarding.
However, Park said he is also planning a day trip to an Ice Fishing Festival in Hwachon, Kangwon Province on Jan. 8.
The festival is a unique chance to try barehanded trout fishing for participants prepared to get a little and wet, he said. The fish caught can be eaten raw or roast on a skewer over an outdoor grill.
Visitor are also able to try sledding, curling, ice football and compete in a snowman-making competition.
For more details about this and other tours arranged by Adventure Korea, go online to www.adventurekorea.com.