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Riverside cycling for all to enjoy

The cycling paths along Korea’s four major rivers are becoming a favorite option for travelers and adventurers seeking a fun and unique way to explore the country.

From left: the cycling route along the Han River leads riders to the area around the National Assembly building in Yeouido; the trail along the Yeongsan River in Hampyeong County, Jeollanam-do; cyclists ride over the Nakdong RiverCyclists enjoy the newly completed bicycle paths along Korea's four major rivers. From left: the cycling route along the Han River leads riders to the area around the National Assembly building in Yeouido; the trail along the Yeongsan River in Hampyeong County, Jeollanam-do; cyclists ride over the Nakdong River (photos courtesy of K-water).


A little over 100 days have passed since the Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water) began a certification program on March 20 to help visitors to the cycling paths keep track of their progress and receive recognition for completing the various courses. As of June 28, over 10,000 people have cycled on the riverside cycling areas, and a growing number of them have completed the entire length of the rigorous cross-country course.

Taking in the sights on two wheels

The K-water certification program awards cyclists with certification stickers upon completion of cycling courses that include individual river courses, a cross-country course, and an all-rivers course, the longest of the offerings. Cyclists who complete the cross-country course or the all-rivers course are awarded with a commemorative medal.

Cyclists who complete various sections on the four river cycling trails receive stamps in a collectible passport Cyclists who complete various sections on the four river cycling trails receive stamps in a collectible passport (photo courtesy of K-water).


As of June 28, a total of 2,406 people have completed the Han River course, 1,365 have completed the Geum River course, 943 have completed the Yeongsan River course, and 1,871 have completed the Nakdong River course. Two additional courses include the Namhan or Southern Han River course, which has been completed by 2,111 cyclists, and the Saejae Road course in Gyeongsangbuk-do (North Gyeongsang Province), which has been completed by 1,582 cyclists.

Cyclists enjoy spring flowers and river views while biking along the Nakdong River Cyclists enjoy spring flowers and river views while biking on the bicycle path along the Nakdong River, one of Korea's four major rivers (photo courtesy of Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs).


The all-rivers course, which takes cyclists along all four of the major rivers, spans 804 kilometers in total. May 24 saw the 100th rider complete the course, and today, 476 people have been awarded the completion medals. The 633-kilometer cross-country course starts at the Yellow Sea floodgate located off of the Ara Waterway in Incheon and trails along the Han River, ending in Busan along the Nakdong River. The 500th rider to travel the course completed his journey on May 26, and today, 1,395 people have completed the course.

“Korea’s cycling roads are unrivaled”

The first non-Korean to complete the cross-country course was Kathleen Stevens, the former United States ambassador to the Republic of Korea. Stevens completed the course from May 27 to 31, beginning in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi-do (Gyeonggi Province) and traveling the approximately 600 kilometers to Busan.

Kathleen Stevens (right), former United States ambassador to the Republic of Korea, completed the four rivers cross-country cycling course on May 31Kathleen Stevens (right), former United States ambassador to the Republic of Korea, completed the four major rivers cross-country cycling course on May 31 (photo: Weekly Gonggam).


“The course is not only beautiful but also designed to be environmentally friendly,” commented Stevens, who traveled a short length of her journey in the rain. “You can also think about the history of the sites you pass.”

Stevens, who was well-known as a cycling enthusiast since the early days of her term in Korea, said that she had been looking forward to the completion of the cycling path since construction began. Stevens tested out a short length of the course in the Namhan River region in October 2011 and had hoped to complete the entire course before leaving Korea.

“The system of bicycle roads in the United States is also being expanded at present, but Korea’s roads are already many steps ahead,” continued Stevens. “The Netherlands is also known for having excellent bicycle roads, but they do not wind around rivers like the roads in Korea. Korea’s riverside cycling roads are unrivaled in the world.”

Cycling to become a national pastime

On June 25, a group of college students sponsored by the Korea Tourism Organization and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism started out on a cross-country cycling tour that will last until July 5. The students, who rode together with Culture Minister Choe Kwang Shik for a special commemorative event on May 16, will be blogging about their travels and sharing pictures and testimonials of the sights and experiences to be had along the rivers.

A father and daughter duo prepare to ride along the Nakdong RiverA father and daughter duo prepare to ride on the bicycle path along the Nakdong River, one of Korea's four major rivers (photo courtesy of Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs).


With the number of visitors to the riverside cycling paths continuing to grow, plans are underway to introduce an additional course. The grand slam course will open in 2013 as the longest and most extensive course yet.

More information on Korea’s four major rivers can be found at the official website of the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project (http://www.4rivers.go.kr/news/eng/) as well as the National Affairs menu at Korea.net.

By Kwon Jungyun
Korea.net Staff Writer

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