Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

Mt. Achasan: A Mountain with Rich Korean History

Posted on Tue, Jun 09, 2015 @ 05:00 PM

Hiking is a sport and outdoor activity that you will probably encounter while living and teaching English in Korea. Coming from South Africa myself, I am accustomed to being outdoors in nature, especially in the summer when the weather is good. I was actually surprised at how huge hiking was in Korea and I was even further surprised by the vast number of trails the country has to offer. Even Koreans themselves are huge into hiking and they are well-equipped and suited both for general and extreme hiking. For example, even the elderly flock in groups to the mountainside, and so it comes as no surprise that Korea is near the top with the highest average life-expectancy in the world, with the elderly averaging 82 years of age nationwide.
Hiking Mt. Achasan in Korea
This past weekend I ventured to Mt. Achasan on the outskirts of Songpa-gu in Seoul. It sits between Gwangjin -gu and Guri, and has an altitude of 287m (942 ft) above sea-level. It was conveniently located near the highly populated areas of Jamsil and Gangnam, and was easily accessible through public transport via bus 70 and Line 5 on the subway. Mt. Achasan is a great mountain to climb since it is leisurely but also intense, and it offers a variety of historic sites and scenic views of Seoul.  While there are mountains all over Korea to climb, here are the top 3 reasons why you should hike Mt. Achasan especially if you are in the Seoul area. 
1. For the Relaxers and the Hikers
Mt. Achasan is a perfect mountain to venture to whether you are looking for a leisurely hike or a more intense one. The mountains' courses average around 2hrs 30mins so it is up to the hiker if you want to go for a slow walk or an extensive hike. For the intense hikers there are 3 different routes on Mt. Achasan and lots of outdoor gyms. There are also other routes that you can venture through like the Seoul Trail and crossing over to Yongmasan mountain. For example, when hiking Mt. Achasan I ventured off onto a different route where I crossed over to  Mt. Yongmasan via the Seoul Trail. I also did some off trail hiking and found many different pathways that were various exercise intensities and exited the mountain on the completely opposite subway line, Line 7.
What's more is there are great spots to have a relaxing picnic enjoy scenic views of Seoul. Plenty of Korean hikers, couples and travelers  enjoy the plenty mini-Korean restaurant stops and relaxing picnic spots. All over Mt. Achasan and Mt.Yongmasan are small basic Korean restaurants that have tables offering hot-stews and drinks.
Hiking Mt. Achasan in Korea
2.Sightseeing and History
Like all Korean hiking routes, there are plenty of temples, historical sites and cultural activities to visit and partake in. Mt. Achasan is home to many of these historic sites that date back to the  Three Kingdom Era. The top three tourist sites to see are Bonghwa Peak, Yongmabong Peak, Manguri Cemetery and a small fort that was built during the Goguryeo Era, dating back to BC37-AD 668. Most of these sites are historically significant to Korea because, they are the few still standing relics from the well-known Joseon Dynasty that was not destroyed during the Korean War and Japanese rule.
Hiking Mt. Achasan in Korea
A must see site is Manguri Cemetery which is located near the peak of Mt. Achasan since it boasts some of the most stunning views of the Hangang River and Seoul’s skyline. In my opinion, it is probably one of the better aerial views of Seoul, in comparison to Namsan Tower and Mt. Bukhansan. The view stretches beyond  the city and on a clear day you can see a 360° view of Seoul and its satellite cities.
3. A Cultural Experience and a Part of Korean National Identity
Hiking is part of the cultural experience of living and teaching in Korea. Koreans are big on hiking, probably housing some of the most active hikers in the world, with most of the general population enjoying it as a national sport or leisurely pass time. When hiking in Korea on mountains like Mt. Achasan, you will see Koreans who are fully-equipped in professional hiking gear including hiking picks, outfits, and bags. Korea is so big on hiking that these areas are saturated with famous clothing outlets like the North Face, Center Pole and Millet.
Hiking Mt. Achasan in Korea
Unlike Western culture, Koreans are big on groups and group unity. Often Koreans will hike in big groups and gather together in a communal manner, sharing many drinks and foods as they socialize together and build a sense of community. As an outsider it is a unique experience to observe this and to possibly even have the opportunity to engage with the Koreans as they socialize. Often Koreans will approach foreigners and ask them to join in! Don't be shy and accept the offer,  it is a lot of fun! (But, be prepared to hike on a little Soju buzz!)  
Directions:  Line 5, Achasan Station, Exit 2 or Line 7, Yongmasan Station, Exit 2 or Jamsil Station take bus no. 70 to Yongmasan station.
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It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people.  After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email tijanahuysamen120@hotmail.com to request more information on teaching in Korea!

Tags: hiking in korea, hiking in seoul

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