Ganghwa Island

- The BLOGorea -

Ganghwa Island

Ganghwa Island

By Honnie
- February 10, 2015 -

Go to Ganghwa Island. Seriously. Go, now.

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Ganghwa Island, or Ganghwa-do ('do' means 'island' in Korean), is about one hour west of Seoul and lies along the northern border of South Korea. As the border along this part of the two Koreas consists of only the Han River, there is no DMZ. As a result, it is very easy to see into North Korea from the island. In fact, a special observatory has been built on the northern face of one of the mountains on the island for the very purpose of looking into North Korea.

Ganghwa Island is not on too many foreigners' radars. In fact, it is not on too many Koreans' radars, either. What a shame.

The island is a treasure trove of things to see and do...especially for anyone with even the faintest interest in Korean history. Thanks to the volume of dolmens present on the island, parts of the island have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The dolmens are not the only evidence of ancient life on Ganghwa Island. Legend has it that the mythical founder of Korea, Dangun, settled on Ganghwa Island for a time. There is an altar on one of the island's mountains, Manisan, which Dangun purportedly used to offer sacrifices to the gods.

And then there are the forts remaining from Mongolian invasions. ...French invasions. ...American invasions.

And then there are the forts remaining from Mongolian invasions. ...French invasions. ...American invasions.

So many relics! There isn't enough space here to go into detail about everything remaining on the island. With all these historical sites, Ganghwa Island has sometimes been called a museum without a roof.

Seriously. Go to Ganghwa Island. Why aren't you there yet?

Perhaps it's because you're not into history. Fine. Go for the sport.

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Ganghwa Island is home to a number of mountains that are ideal for hiking and climbing. If you're not interested in hiking, get a pair of wheels and bike around the island. There are numerous roads and bike lanes that wind through the mountains and along the coast. There is no shortage of scenery along these routes.

Don't wanna work up a sweat? Cool. No problem. Head to the beach. Granted, the beaches aren't the greatest, but you're not going to find too much better in this part of Korea.

Are you still not on Ganghwa Island? What's wrong with you? Get there. If the history and sport don't interest you, what about a look into North Korea?

A nice observatory has been built on the side of a north-facing hill on the northern edge of the island. The only thing that separates the observatory from North Korea is the Han River. Across the river there is a village where North Koreans can be seen going about their lives. This is as close to seeing "life" in North Korea that many people are ever going to get. Inside the observatory there are a number of exhibits detailing the recent history of the Korean peninsula.

If you still are not on Ganghwa Island, there is no point in trying to convince you. So be it. It is your loss. No Ganghwa-Do for you!

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