When I visited South Korea, this is the area I most anticipated. I really wanted to see this mountainous area more remote to the rest of the country. Turns out it wasn't so remote as I thought.
Easily accessible by tour buses and local vacationers, this place was crowded! Not what I expected. But, to be fair, I was unfortunate enough to say my hello to the mountain on a Korean holiday. It's hard not to when it seemed like they occurred daily!
I was unaware before my visit this was popular among K-Something (Pop/Drama?) and everyone in Asia seems crazy for that stuff. I tried watching some K-drama while there, but, beside not speaking the language, it was far too dramatic for my taste. Oh well, back to the mountain,...
Before I went to the the mountain I took a walk in the woods first. This was actually quite nice and provided a moment of solitude in an otherwise chaotic environment.
I had a choice to walk up the mountain which would have been about 45 minutes as I remember, or take the gondola. After just walking the woods, I decided it was best for my back to take the easy route. For only about $8 USD it was a short 6 minutes to the top (well, not really the top, but good viewing area).
Happy tourists returning from the top. I waved in true friendly American style and they returned the gesture.
We were packed tight in the cable car (is a cable car and a gondola the same?), but I was fortunate to get a front window view. Here is a view during the ascent.
More views on the 6 minute climb:
I made it! Now views from the top:
When you exit the gondola, there is a viewing platform. I spent only a few minutes there, then a five minute walk to a rocky open viewing area
This area is where most of the people went to take their pictures:
For good reason, it provided the most dramatic views!
This area of South Korea is easy access from Seoul. Only a little more than 2 hours drive gives nearly 19 million Seoul residents access.
I spent maybe 20 minutes here then back down. Too crowded for my taste.
At the bottom, a nice family from Indonesia asked me to join them and offered to buy me a coffee. I gladly took the opportunity to socialize about 20 minutes with them:
His name was Robert and his wife's name was Happy (real name). I don't recall the son's name.
Upon exiting the park the cars were lined up for about 1/2 mile or more (1 km). This is one busy place on a holiday!
This is a beautiful place but did not meet my expectations. It is far too commercialized with the kiosks touting to the many tourists who arrive. I didn't realize how close to Seoul it is, therefore such easy access.
South Korea is really not a very large country in size. With 52 million people on this small "island" (it really is an island since North Korea cuts off land access), there's a limited number of tourist areas available to them by land. Even Jeju in their country requires boat or plane to visit.