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 GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)
South Korea or Republic of Korea is found in eastern Asia. The name Korea derives from the name Goryeo from the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo, which was considered a great power of East Asia during its time, in the 5th century.
It is found south of Northern Korea, between The Yellow Sea and China and the Japanese Sea with Japan. It is populated by close to 52,000,000 citizens, half of them found in the capital Seoul. Of these, 56,1% are Irreligious, 19,7% are Protestants, 15,5% Korean Buddhists and 7,9% Catholics.
It have been populated in around 300,000 years, while the first recorded kingdom was in the early 7th century BC. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea into Silla and Balhae in the late 7th century, Korea was ruled by the Goryeo dynasty; 918–1392, and the Joseon dynasty; 1392–1897. The succeeding Korean Empire; 1897–1910 was annexed in 1910 into the Empire of Japan. Japanese rule ended following the surrender in World War II, after which Korea was divided into two zones; a northern zone occupied by the Soviet Union and a southern zone occupied by the United States. The South became the Republic of Korea in August 1948 while the North became the socialist Democratic People's Republic of Korea the following month.
The South have developed into a major industrial nation with a boosting economy, the North into something else.
The Geography. Its total area is 100,032 square kilometres, including three thousand islands. The mainland is divided into four general regions: An eastern region of high mountain ranges and narrow coastal plains. A western region of broad coastal plains, river basins, and rolling hills. A south-western region of mountains and valleys. A south-eastern region dominated by the broad basin of the Nakdong River.
South Korea's terrain is mostly mountainous, most of which is not arable for farmers. Lowlands, located primarily in the west and southeast, make up only 30% of the total land area. The highest point is Hallasan, an extinct volcano, reaching 1,950 meters, found on the southern island of Jeju.
The Climate tends to be a humid continental part, and a humid subtropical part. They are affected by the East Asian monsoon, with precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called jangma, which begins end of June through the end of July. Winters can be extremely cold with the minimum temperature dropping below −20 °C in the inland region of the country.
The Botany covers three terrestrial eco-regions: Central Korean deciduous forests, Manchurian mixed forests, and Southern Korea evergreen forests. Well, there use to be 30% forest, but during the first 20 years of South Korea's growth surge, little effort was made to preserve the environment. Unchecked industrialization and urban development have resulted in massive deforestation and the ongoing destruction of wetlands such as the Songdo Tidal Flat. Some work is done to re-established the lost.
South Korea has 20 national parks and popular nature places like the Boseong Tea Fields(?!), Suncheon Bay Ecological Park, and the first national park of Jirisan. Here are around 4,500 species of plants, among them a few, rare caudiciforms, but I will not be looking for any in particular. However, I might stumble over
Amorphophallus konjac,  Apios fortunei, Crinum asiaticum, Cynanchum bungei, Cynanchum wilfordii, Dioscorea batatas, Dioscorea bulbifera, Dioscorea nipponica, Dioscorea tokoro, Equisetum arvense, Gynostemma pentaphyllum, Oxalis tetraphylla, Stephania japonica, Thladiantha dubia, Sarcoca acinosa and Isoetes japonica.
Wild animal life former counted tigers, deer, leopards, lynx, and bears. Formerly abundant, they have almost disappeared, even in remote areas. Some 380 species of birds are found in the country, most of which are seasonal migrants. Many of South Korea’s fish, reptile, and amphibian species are threatened by intensive cultivation and environmental pollution, except in the de-military-zone between North- and South Korea, which has become a de facto nature preserve. The zone serves as a sanctuary for hundreds of bird species, among them the endangered white-naped and red-crowned cranes, and is home to dozens of fish species and Asiatic black bears, lynxes, and other mammals.

As I travel without a computer for the first time in many years, this diary is a bit skinny on details. It is written on the tiny keys on an iPhone, and that made me keep it short.

15/5 2023. I leave home at noon by direct train to the airport. A relatively short flight with Emirates bring me to Dubai in The United Arab Emirates, over a crystal clear Europe. I get some real good Indian Vegetarian food, and it feels like first class. Then I have three hours to eat and stretch my legs in Doha.
I find more Indian food and ev
en masala tea, before I head on from the nice airport. It is with one of the new, two story A380 airplanes. It is a short night and a longer day in quite good comfort, spend with sleep, movies and reading.

16/5. I arrival in Seoul in the late afternoon. I got an E-visa and no suitcase: Only a three litre shoulder bag with one kilo in, and I can soon find my car and store half of it in the car and my pockets.
It takes only twenty five minutes from we hit the ground, till I sit and hold the steering wheel in my real nice Hyundai Avante.
It is a 205 kilometres to my first hotel, by at a patchwork of huge toll
roads, and it turns out, I automatically pay by card right away at most, and it is quite some money.
I stop at a supermarket to stock
food on the way. The drive is mainly after dark, and I appreciate my GPS a lot. I actually brought a spare iPhone, just in case. It is, by the way, country number 100, I drive in myself.
The pre-programmed GPS is especially great in countries with strange letters, where the names of cities and roads are “translated” into a wide range of spellings in Latin letters, and asking for directions nearly impossible, due to my lack of ability to pronounce the names – and understand the answer. GPS points, found on Bing Maps works perfectly.
Like any other Buddhist country, I do the tour clockwise.
Where I have been travelling with a computer for so many years, I now try to do the back-up of photos, accounting and Facebook update by iPhone alone. Less work in the evenings – way more, when I get home.
To get a late check-in, I had to swap my two-room luxury apartment for a single room, but I’m glad I did, as I now can relax and enjoy the drive. I find the hotel at nine in the evening, in the hills south of Bongpyeong-myeon. Photos:
Flight and Seoul skyline.

17/5. I start the day at 5:00, when it starts to get light, mainly because I only been sleeping one hour at a time. The first point of interest in Korea is Odaesan National Park with nature and several temples. I follow the big road at first, which offers some great views to the mountains and hardly any traffic. Within the national park, the temperature is still 10C, it is windy and look like average Denmark. It turns out to be a short hike. From here, I make it through the mountains by a “shortcut”. As expected, it is a real nice drive.

Way up in the north-eastern corner of the country, I find Seoraksan National Park with its beautiful nature, rocks, temples and deep forest. The wind has gone, and the temperature reach 20C. I see the cosy little temple and do a walk on some of the tracks, passing the river from time to time. It is pine forest and is not really that interesting.

The next stop is in the Gangneung Ojukheon area, mainly known for the perfect beach. However I start with the marsh, and I hear several birds singing, but don’t see anything, I don’t think I could have seen in Denmark. Or at least the genera.

Then it is time for Gyeongpo Beach which have white sands, pine trees and offers a great but dull walk. The beach it’s a bit sterile with perfect sand, and only a few of the same species of shells. I look at the different seafood restaurants and ask for a vegetarian meal, but no luck.

I then find Anmok Beach and its golden sand and blue water, but again it’s a bit sterile with the perfect sands and hardly any shells or humans for that matter, but a big boardwalk to connect it with the road.

I head on to Aark House Anmok Beach – within the town. Is a really cosy private home that’s been made into a hostel with small rooms as well as dorms. I get here already at one o’clock in the afternoon, and that gives me time to explore the nice Old Town and especially the traditional market. I find a pancake made of mainly potatoes, and another egg role with fresh vegetables, which is really tasty. I do a big loop around the old market, and into the more modern town and trading streets there. I’m home at five, and just relax at the porch sipping my tea while I dictate my diaries. Then I return to the market for some fresh-made things, I serve at home with noodles: Great. I find granola in the first real supermarket I have seen, but skip the milk, as I will be on the road the entire time. Photos: Odaesan NP, Seoraksan NP, 3 beaches.
                            Time to head into Diary 2.

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