May 092012
 

BY MICHAEL FRAIMAN

There is no particular reason that Korea’s rural northeast is often overlooked. Rather, there are several small reasons: it’s out of the way from any significant city, the bullet train doesn’t run there, winter brings heavier snowfalls than it does most the rest of the country, and it’s not proximally close to either China or Japan, which could historically account for its underdevelopment. It’s the sort of area one would probably read a book through on a bus ride, though if you glanced out the window you’d notice mostly flat, traditional Korean roofs hovering over a sea of cabbage farms and some of the best mountain views in the country, widely unobscured by condominiums.

Gangwon-do’s southern half is rough and beautiful, like a female bodybuilder; you’re frightened by her toughness, but equally attracted by the challenge. It’s a perfect weekend trip for anyone looking for natural respite free from hordes of fashion-conscious Busanites and, well, white people. Continue reading »