CONTRIBUTED BY CHRISTINE BRUNS
On one of those blessedly free weekends during winter break (you know, the ones where there is nothing scheduled that you have to do, so you fill it up with fun things that you want to do?), we decided to take advantage of the the tours offered by the USO. I hopped online, looked at the schedule, and made a quick reservation for three to visit Nami Island.
Nami Island, also known as the Naminara Republic, is located near Chuncheon, about 63 km northeast of Seoul, in the middle of the Han River. It has a circumference of 5 km and can be reached in one of two ways: by a quick 5 minute ferry boat ride (the option we chose that brisk, wintery morning) or by a thrilling zipline entry (which my 4 year-old was adamant that he wanted to do – not happening, buddy!).
Nami Island was named after General Nami, a figure in Korean history who fought bravely in numerous battles but died at the age of 26. His tomb and memorial are on the island.
The rest of the island is dedicated to fun, hiking, and nature – with trails large and small leading to numerous shops, restaurants, a song museum, and lots of artwork.
This is a popular tourist destination all year long, as a very popular Korean drama was filmed here, called Winter Sonata.
For the adventurous, you can rent bicycles to tour the island. There is also a fun blue train ride and a sky bike track
Other activities include a TV broadcast studio, a very large library (with a slide and craft section for children), and fire pits during the winter.
The art studio features clay sculptures by artist Yu Qing Cheng, a self-taught sculptor from China, who focused on the human form and folk art. This is one example (one of the less R-Rated versions, at least). His work is scattered all over the island, so be prepared to come face to face with the naked human form (with some very well-endowed males and females) along your walks.
There are also some random ostriches on the island. Feel free to take pictures, but please, no up-close and personal selfies! Just after this shot, some poor soul lost a glove to this pecking pro.
Be sure to find Metasequoia Lane, in the middle of the island, where these redwood trees line the path. Planted in 1977, they are still just babies, but beautiful to see.
There are plenty of food options, with both large restaurants and smaller street food vendors.
This was the tastiest sausage, with a sweet honey mustard – yum!
The island considers itself its own republic, so there is a post office, a bank, a currency exchange, and hotels. And for those with children along, there is a fun little playground for them to run around in.
Admission: Open year round, every day.
Get an entry Visa (ticket) at the Naminara Republic Immigration Office.
Regular Price – 10,000 won
Foreigner Discount – 8,000 won
Special Price – 4,000 won (ages 3-13 years; visitors after 6 pm December-March;
visitors after 7 pm April-November)
Telephone: Chuncheon Nami Tourist Information 031-580-8008
Address: 1024, Bukhangangbyeon-ro, Gapyeong-eup, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
Name Search: Nami Island Ticket Office/Nami Island Dock
The best directions (for driving, shuttle bus, bus, or subway) are available on the island’s website at: https://www.namisum.com/_ver01/_bbs_iw2000/?link_code=090107
The Ferry starts running at 7:30 am each day and runs continuously in 20-30 minute intervals until the last ferry at 9:45 pm. Ferry fare is included in the admission ticket price.
GPS Coordinates: 37.791354,127.525542