No matter where you’re placed while teaching English in Korea, you’ll have opportunities to travel over the country and see some majestic scenery that is truly astonishing for such a geographically small country. This past weekend was a short holiday called Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and I spent three days with a work friend up in Seorak National Park with the intent of climbing Mt. Seorak, which has one of the highest peaks in South Korea. I thought sharing this experience would help provide some insight as to what the Korean wilderness has in store for you on your time off work.
On Sunday Morning, we took a bus from Seoul to Sokcho, the coastal city adjacent to the park. From there, we went to our hotel and took a quick walk into the national park to check out some of the sights on low ground. There are a lot of cultural sights that don’t require any climbing. For instance, here I am at the Buddha statue just past the entrance of Sinheungsa Temple.
However, since climbing the actual mountain takes too long (somewhere around 7 hours total) we decided we had to go back to the hotel and make a fresh start the next day so that we wouldn’t be climbing in the dark.
The next morning, we got an early start with some kimchi stew and decided that because it was the closest side to our hotel, we would take the long way up the mountain (10km across, 1.7km upward). The way up started very innocently with lots of stairs and catwalks, but as we got higher up, the terrain seemed much less planned out, so a climber must keep their wits about them. Despite the challenges, the path is full of amazing sights and places to take a quick break. Other climbers are often friendly enough to speak to you, offer food and give their congratulations if you are on your way back down.
Here is a photo from when we were nearing the top of the mountain.
After about 4.5 hours of climbing, we reached what we thought to be the top of the mountain. After spending a minute or two there, we realized that the sign said we were 1,550 meters above sea level, but we were certain that Mt. Seorak rose just over 1,700 meters. After hours of harsh climbing and racing heart rates, we saw the final leg of our ascension.
It looked a little menacing, but there was a shelter just below it where we took a quick sit-down.
Finally, we were finished with our climb and began the painful descent back to an idling taxi and some well-deserved fresh sashimi in front of a nearby beach.
So if you are thinking about teaching English and are an outdoor person or just enjoy seeing nature, Korea is definitely the country for you. Whether it’s because of the astonishing scenery or the thinning oxygen levels, the Korean countryside will leave you breathless.
Josh Donner is the current head instructor at a Chungdahm Learning branch just outside of Seoul. Josh grew up in Toronto and after graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, the 23 year old decided to put his History degree to use by starting a career teaching English in Korea. Josh likes to spend his time learning Korean and soaking up all the culture and adventure South Korea has to offer. In fact, Josh has found his time in Korea so fulfilling, he is eager to share his experiences! Follow Josh’s adventures in Aclipe’s Teachers’ Blogs.