South Korea is a country in eastern Asia. It is on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula and shares a border North Korea. This border is one of the most heavily militarised borders in the world and also a border between two vastly different countries. South Korea is one of the most urban countries in the world while North Korea is a communist country that the world knows very little about.
The capital of South Korea is Seoul; other large cities include Incheon, Busan, Daegu, and Daejeon. Seoul is in the northwest part of the country and together with Incheon and Gyeonggi it makes up the world’s sixteenth largest city. The Korean Peninsula is surrounded by the Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan (you may see it called the East Sea too), and the East China Sea. It’s landscape is mostly mountainous, ranging from high mountains in the east to gently rolling hills in the west and a fertile region in the southeast. You’ll be able to get from the city to the mountains in no time at all; this is thanks to the extensive rail and bus network across the country.
The largest airport in the country is Seoul Incheon, in the north and that is where most flights from the US, Europe, and Australia fly into. If you’re arriving from Asia, you may find that you can fly into Busan for cheaper.
South Korea is a highly populated, heavily touristed country. You can find hostel accommodation in most large cities, generally near the train station. Hostels in South Korea are similar to backpacker hostels you see in Europe or Australia. Expect shared rooms and facilities with a common room and kitchen. Most staff at hostels speak English - especially in the major cities, and the Korean characters for “hostel” are “호스텔” which is pronounced the same as in English. In general, most Koreans speak English and are incredibly friendly and helpful; they’ll be able to give you directions or at least point you in the right direction!
The earliest known archaeological evidence for the inhabitation of Korea dates to 8000 BCE. In the 1st century BCE, the Three Kingdoms flourished and it is from one of those, the Goguryeo, that we get the name Korea. In the 7th century AD, Korea was unified under the Shilla (or Silla) Kingdom and underwent a radical cultural transformation. It was during this millennium of peace that saw the invention of Hangul, the Korean alphabet, and numerous heritage sites that are now among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Haeinsa, where the woodcut Buddhist canon is stored, and many more. There are over 12 World Heritage Sites and 19 Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity. Division came once again after World War II, when Korea was annexed into Japan, and again in 1950 when North Korea invaded. Today, South Korea is one of the world’s most developed countries, has some of the highest education rates, healthcare, employment rates, and is also ranked as one of the safest countries in the world. It is home to some of the world’s top companies, in technology, health, business, and automotive sectors.
Dont miss: K-pop music at the dance clubs, Korean street food, seafood, and soju, an alcoholic beverage.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for South Korea hostels. Welcome.