Back in December we decided to take a trip to Nami Island in Gapyeong. The island shot to the “top 10 things to do in Korea” lists thanks to the drama ‘Winter Sonata’ that was shot there in 2003. Before that, the island served as an area of historical influence being the final resting place of General Nami who became a general at the young age of 17. He then, with his army, triumphed over the rebels under King Sejo (1455-1468) He died as a result of being falsely accused of high treason during the reign of King Yejong at the age of 28.*
The island is easily accessible by subway, bus and car from Seoul, and don’t worry if you skipped breakfast! The surrounding area is full of restaurants – mainly dak-galbi (닭갈비), a spicy, stir-fried chicken dish that is GREAT on cold winter days! (Make sure you stick around after the main dish, the waiters will bring rice to mix with the sauce… TA-DA! spicy fried rice desert!)
You can choose one of two ways to get to the island. You can take the ferry, or you can zip line in if you have a strong heart. I don’t – so I opted for the first option. Stand in line, get your ‘Naminara visa’ and ‘passport’ and hop onto the ferry!
The whole island can be explored in a few hours, but definitely take your time and enjoy nature. The islands electricity supply was actually built underground so the aesthetic of the island would not be spoiled!
The island and all of its water features were frozen when we got there, but it just added to the beauty of the area. There were a fair few tourists, but we managed to run ahead and beat the tour groups to grab some picutres.
We didn’t really pay attention to any maps (which we probably should have) we took a left at the entrance and just explored where our feet took us!
I should also say that it was nearing 3pm when we actually arrived at the island, so most of the tourists had already left.
The island is home to a group (pride? flock? heard?) of ostriches, whom J got too close to and almost lost an eye. They have a VERY large pen to run around but honestly could have done with an inside enclosure and their water seem to have run out. However I don’t know what their feeding schedule is, nor do I know the needs of ostriches so dont come for me.
There are restaurants on the island, and there are residences you can book if you wish to stay the night! There are also a lot of activities to do (which may be more fun in warmer weather) such as renting a bike, water sports, pottery, glassblowing and several exhibition/concert halls
While we were there, there was a giant snow hill built in the middle of the park. It was fun to see children having fun sliding down the hill – especially since we didn’t really get any snow this year. The snow was actually built on top of a plastic tarpaulin, which made the exposed area EXTREMELY slippy. Guess who walked around the rest of the park with wet pants…. we did!
Nami island has a lot of sculptures and art pieces scattered around. Some weird, all wonderful. You might even get a glipse of some furry friends whilst walking around!
If you happened to have seen the drama ‘Winter Sonata’ you can find a monument to it on one of the tree-lined roads.
A tribute to Minn Byeong-Do, the man who formed Nami Island as it now stands today. The former Bank of Korea governor bought a once desolate Nami island in the 60s and turned it into the beautiful island we can see today.
After spending a few hours walking around it started to get dark, so we took a slow stroll back to the ferry and took in some last breaths of nature.
I was not looking forward to the 3 hour journey back to incheon by subway, but I was happy I checked Nami Island off my bucket list. I’m sure to return in the spring or summer to see how the trees look in full leafy jackets!
Until next time Namiseom!