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Winter Outdoor Activities in Korea

Winter Outdoor Activities in Korea

If you’ve ever watched a K-drama or movie that features winter in South Korea, you’ll know that it’s freezing, windy, and dry, but somehow romantic? While this type of winter usually encourages hibernation, there’s actually lots to do during this snow-filled season! While in the States, there is a lot of emphasis on family as you near the holidays, in South Korea, the streets are absolutely filled to the brim with couples and friends. There’s even a common Korean saying that if you confess or are with someone special during the first snow of the year, then true, lasting love will blossom between the two of you! If this isn’t your cup of tea, then try making a wish during the first snow. Regardless, here’s a list of some common activities that take place during the colder season in Korea. 

1. Skiing and Sledding


Image from Google

Whenever there’s lots of snow and hills, you’re bound to find skiers and sledders jumping on an opportunity to take advantage of the weather.  Everland, South Korea’s largest theme park, has a hill called Snow Buster specifically for sledding—a popular activity for children, couples, and families.  However, due to the crazy amount of mountains in South Korea, skiing is really where it’s at. Made up of more than 70 percent mountains, South Korea has tons of ski resorts to pick from, which is why skiing is a common winter activity amongst Koreans. The most popular ski resort close to Seoul is Konjiam Ski Resort, the most note-worthy for its Olympic Game venues is the Alpensia Resort, and lastly, the most scenic is Deogyusan Ski Resort.

2. Outdoor Ice Skating


Image from Google

Just in Seoul, there are plenty of outdoor and indoor skating parks that emerge during the winter months. A wildly popular activity amongst friends, families, and couples, these rinks are perfect for capturing the holiday spirit with its absolutely breathtaking and beautiful decorations, not to mention all the warm and toasty restaurants and shops surrounding the rinks.  One of the most inexpensive outdoor rinks is the Seoul Plaza Skate Rink, which starts at around 80 cents per hour!

3. Ice Fishing Festivals


Image from Google

Ice fishing is a popular activity for everyone during Korean winters. Pyeongchang (where the Winter Olympics were once held) hosts a Trout Festival every year. City officials test the ice for safety, and then it’s every man for themselves! In actuality, there are plenty of instructional videos and festival workers available to give you a hand. Many novices may leave empty-handed, but healed through this patient and fun experience. If you are lucky enough to catch a fish, then chefs are immediately available to cook your catch. There are also nearby restaurants that will salt and cook the fish or serve it to you raw for a minimal fee. If you’re a lover of seafood, here's an easy kimchi mayo tuna salad recipe that only takes 15 minutes.

4. Ice Diving


Image from Google

So...you’ve heard of penguins and polar bears swimming in freezing waters, but what about humans? South Korea has both a Penguin Swimming Festival (Seogwipo) and Polar Bear Swimming Contest (Busan) every winter.  This isn’t to say that people are snatching up penguins and polar bears and training them to win races. Instead, many locals and tourists gather to race in actually freezing waters. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart but surprisingly, Busan’s Polar Bear Swimming Contest attracts about 2,000 people every year!

5. Snow Festivals


Image from Google

If you go to a beach in the summer, you’re bound to see sand sculptures somewhere. If you go to Cheongyang Province in the winter, you’re bound to see ice sculptures! Cheonyang Province actually hosts one of the most popular ice festivals in Korea, the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival. The festival features ice sculptures like ginormous igloo cafes, intricate palaces, smooth slides, and even ancient Korean boats (to size!). Where’s Elsa? Because it’s surely every Frozen fan’s dream. This isn’t the only ice festival though. There are plenty of snow and ice festivals that Koreans frequent all over the country, with a mix of activities like ice fishing, dog sledding, and ice football. 

6. Street Food


Image from Google
Just like in the States, there are common winter snacks that are consumed during the colder months. The most common street foods during the winter are baked sweet potatoes, roasted chestnuts, hotteok (pancakes), tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), odeng (fish cake sticks with soup), gyeran bbang (egg bread), and much, much more. Eating street food has to be the most common activity during the winter time, because these street vendors are literally everywhere. From street corners to subway exits to markets, it’s hard not to stake out at one of the spots and warm your body and soul.

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