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Enjoy the flow of culture, history along the 4 rivers

In Korea, hiking is a rising trend in tourism. Many people hike along paths in the mountains, through fields, or along the shore. Some people even discover new paths hidden deep in the forest or in the countryside.

Among all types of paths, many people head to riverside paths where they can enjoy learning about the history, culture, and the nature of the area as they hike along the river.

The Korean government plans to create and develop riverside trekking paths. Some paths have been already built or reopened along the four major rivers -- Han, Geum, Nakdong, and Yeongsan Rivers.

* Han River

The Han River holds enormous significance in Korean history and culture from ancient times to today. The river has also been closely related to the lives of Seoul citizens.

Some of the recommended hiking courses along the river are Dumulmeori-gil (path) in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggido (Gyeonggi Province), Binae-gil in Chungju, Chungcheongbukdo (North Chungcheong Province), and Donggang-gil in Jeongseon, Gangwondo (Gangwon Province).

Dumulmeori literally means 'two water areas,' and refers to the place where the Bukhangang (Northern Han River) and Namhangang (Southern Han River) meet. Dumulmeori-gil starts from Yangsu Station (Jungang Subway Line). After walking to Dumulmeori from the station, a 400-year-old Zelkova tree welcomes visitors with a scenic view along with an old sailboat.

Dumulmeori (Yonhap News)

People who visit Binae-gil in Chungju, Chungcheongbukdo, can find the beautiful nature of Binae Island and enjoy a spa at hot spring resorts in Yangseong. Binae Island is one of the favorite spots for photographers as this island is known as a habitat for migratory birds, including egrets and mallard ducks.

Donggang in Jeongseon-gun (Jeongseon County), Gangwondo, is usually known for eco-tourism, rafting, and rail biking. Jeongseon County is also known for “Jeongseon Arirang,” a variation of the popular folk song “Arirang.” Donggang-gil starts from Jeongseon Station and stretches to Arari-chon (Arari Village), the cultural center of Jeongseon where many traditional Korean houses, called Hanok, can be found. Other charms of this trekking path include local cuisines like gondeure rice, and the Jeongseon Five-Day Market which opens on the 2nd, 7th, 12th, 17th, 22nd , and 27th of every month. 

* Nakdong River

The Nakdong River is nicknamed 'the Lifeline of Yeongnam Region’ (Gyeongsang Province). Some good hiking paths along the river are in Andong, Gyeongsangbukdo (North Gyeongsang Province), and Upo Wetland in Changnyeong, Gyeongsangnamdo (South Gyeongsang Province).

Trekking path in Andong (photo courtesy of Weekly Gongam Magazine)

The city of Andong is regarded as the centre of Confucianism in Korea. People who walk along the paths in the city can learn more about Confucianist culture and the traditional lifestyle while looking around traditional houses, farms, and the famous Hahoe Village, a traditional village which was added to UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010. At Hahoe Village, visitors can experience folk culture and enjoy local delicacies.

Visitors look around Upo Wetland (photo courtesy of Weekly Gongam Magazine)
Upo Wetland is also another great trekking course along the Nakdong River. As the largest natural wetland in Korea, this naturally formed swamp was designated a Ramsar site in March 1998 and later designated as a natural protected area by the Korean government. While following the 6.6-kilometer-long eco-tour path through the swamp, people can learn more about the swamp ecosystem which has more than 140 million years of history. The wetland also creates picturesque views for every season.

* Geum River

Also known as Baengma River, the Geum River runs to the Yellow Sea, tracing the culture and history of Baekje (18 B.C. - A.D. 660), one of the Three Kingdoms in Korean history. The trekking course along the Geum River port is one of the nice paths for those who visit the river area.

People can enjoy the scenic view at the riverside path on the Geum River (Yonhap News).

The two-part hiking paths along the port start from Ganggyeong-eup, the old river port town of Ganggyeong in Chungcheongnamdo (South Chungcheong Province). The first course begins from Ganggyeong Station and is good for bike-riding. Another hiking course begins at Gongju Mountain and goes to Seongdeok Village. This course is good for bird-watching, as migratory birds such as the spectacled teal come to this area every November to spend the winter.

* Yeongsan River

The Yeongsan River is known as the home of some famous Korean literature works like  Toji (The Land), by veteran novelist Park Kyung-ni (1926-2008). The river is also known for its abundance of food since it runs past some of the well-known breadbasket plains areas in the Honam region (Jeolla Province). For trekkers who plan to visit the river, the Yeongsan riverside path in Naju and the Damyang Bamboo Forest path in Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province) are recommended.

The Yeongsan riverside path begins at an old burial mound in Bannam in Naju which was formed during the Three Kingdoms era. After passing the burial mound, trekkers get a great view of the Naju plains at a lookout spot on Jami Mountain. While walking along the path, old sailboats, pavilions, and Juksan Bridge welcome visitors and offer a scenic view of the river. Local specialties like roasted eel and hong-eo (fermented skate fish) will also please trekkers.

People have fun at the Metasequoia Road in Damyang (Yonhap News).

The city of Damyang is where the Yeongsan River starts to flow. This city is known for its bamboo forest named Jungnogwon, which is where the trekking path begins. After passing Jungnogwon Bamboo Forest, another forest will begin. This forest, named Gwan-bang-je-rim, was artificially created 200 years ago to prevent flooding and forms a great natural 1.5-kilometer-long tunnel. Outside the tunnel, visitors will meet another must-see forest path, the Metasequoia Road. Thanks to its great vantage point, this road is often seen on TV dramas or movies.

By Yoon Sojung Staff Writer
Article adapted from Weekly Gonggam Magazine

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