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11 Things to Do in Korea this Winter

Winter in Korea is TOUGH. Gale force Siberian winds, freezing temperatures and super dry air make it tempting to sit inside, binge-watch Netflix and drink coffee all day long. At least that’s what I want to do most winter days.

But that would be a waste of an entire season full of wonderful, wintry things to do, wouldn’t it? Here’s some ideas to get you through these bitter months.

SHOW YOUR OLYMPIC SPIRIT

In less than 50 days, the small city of Pyeongchang in the north of the country will host the 208th Olympic Winter Games. That makes this particular winter in Korea just a wee bit special, wouldn’t you say? ๐Ÿ˜€

From February 9th – 25th, 3,000 athletes from 95 countries will compete in 102 separate events in 15 sports disciplines, including Apine Skiing, Biathon, Cross-country Skiing, Freestyle Skiing, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping, Snowboard, Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton, Curling, Figure Skating, Ice Hockey, and Speed Skating.

Here’s a few ways you can get into the Olympic Spirit:

Follow the Olympic Torch Relay
The Olympic Torch arrived in Korea on November 1st, and it’s slowly being run across the country, marked by festive events in each of its relay locations, where you can cheer on the torch bearers.

#olympictorchrelay @masijacoke850714 ๐Ÿ˜˜

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On the Pyeongchang Olympic Torch Relay site, you can read about each of the runners, their motivation for applying to be a torch bearer, as well as find information about where and when you can see the torch being passed on to the next runner.

Never mind the celebrities and famous athletes though. I got pretty weepy-eyed reading about the average citizens and their reasons for running in the relay.

The torch is slated to be in Seoul from January 13 to 16, and will be run as a royal procession in Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Attend the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (duh) ๐Ÿ˜‰
Events will be held in Pyeongchang, Gangneug and Jeongseon, with the Opening Ceremonies slated for February 9th at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Ticket prices range from 20,000 to 1,500,000KRW (for the Opening Ceremonies).

Check out Seoul’s Opening Ceremonies from the 1998 Summer Olympics!

์ „ ์„ธ๊ณ„๋ฅผ ๋†€๋ผ๊ฒŒ ํ•œ ์ „์„ค์˜ 88์˜ฌ๋ฆผํ”ฝ ๊ฐœํšŒ์‹ ๋ช…์žฅ๋ฉด ๋‹ค์‹œ ๋ณด๊ธฐ! Highlights of the #Seoul1988 Olympics Opening Ceremony still catch people's eyes. ํ‰์ฐฝ์˜ฌ๋ฆผํ”ฝ ๊ฐœํšŒ์‹ ์ž…์žฅ๊ถŒ ํŒ๋งค ์ค‘! ๐Ÿ‘‰ tickets.PyeongChang2018.com #Onthisday #Sept17 #1988 #Olympics #Korea #throwback #PyeongChang2018 #145daystogo #29๋…„์ „์˜ค๋Š˜ #์‘๋‹ตํ•˜๋ผ1988 #88์˜ฌ๋ฆผํ”ฝ #์„œ์šธ์˜ฌ๋ฆผํ”ฝ #๊ฐœํšŒ์‹ #๊ฐœ๋ง‰์‹ #์˜คํ”„๋‹ #๋ช…์žฅ๋ฉด #ํ•˜์ด๋ผ์ดํŠธ #์†์—์†์žก๊ณ  #์ฝ”๋ฆฌ์•„๋‚˜ #๊ตด๋ ์‡ ์†Œ๋…„ #์†Œ์˜ค๋ฆ„ #๋‹ค์‹œ๋ณด๊ธฐ #2018ํ‰์ฐฝ #145์ผ๋‚จ์•˜์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค

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Wow, the Olympic Rings are on the top of the speed skating venue for #PyeongChang2018!๐Ÿ˜ฒ ์˜ค๋ฅœ ๋งˆํฌ๊ฐ€ ์„ ๋ช…ํ•˜๊ฒŒ ๊ทธ๋ ค์ง„ ๊ฐ•๋ฆ‰ ์Šคํ”ผ๋“œ ์Šค์ผ€์ดํŒ… ๊ฒฝ๊ธฐ์žฅ! ์—ฌ๊ธฐ์„œ ํผ์งˆ ํ•จ์„ฑ ์†Œ๋ฆฌ์— ๋ฒŒ์จ๋ถ€ํ„ฐ ๋‘๊ทผ๋‘๊ทผ๐Ÿ’™ ______________ #PyeongChang2018 #PyeongChang #Olympics #Paralympics #Gangneung #passion #speed #skating #2018ํ‰์ฐฝ #๋™๊ณ„์˜ฌ๋ฆผํ”ฝ #์˜ฌ๋ฆผํ”ฝ #ํŒจ๋Ÿด๋ฆผํ”ฝ #๊ฐ•๋ฆ‰ #์Šคํ”ผ๋“œ์Šค์ผ€์ดํŒ… #์ด์ƒํ™” #์ด์Šนํ›ˆ #๋ชจํƒœ๋ฒ” #๋ฐ•์Šน์ฃผ

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A high speed KTX rail line has been completed for the event, and promises to get visitors from Incheon Aiport to the Olympic venues in under 2 hours. Full transport details can be found HERE, and tickets for events can be purchased HERE.

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LIGHT IT UP

If bright, sparkling bulbs are your thing, you’re in luck. Because the holiday season guarantees a country lit with twinkling Christmas lights from top to bottom. Here’s where to see the best of them in Korea.

LED Rose Garden at the DDP
Dongdaemun Design Plaza’s LED Rose Garden was initially planted as a promotion for OMEGA watches in 2014, but it didn’t become a permanent installation until Korea’s 70th National Liberation Day in 2015. The 25,550 LED roses are symbolic of the number of days since liberation – 70 years (in 2015) multiplied by 365 days equals 25,550).

It’s free to check out, and can be seen every night of the week from 5:30 to midnight in the Grass Plaza area of the DDP. Get there by taking exit 1 at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station.

Check out our full post about the LED Rose Garden HERE.

The Garden of the Morning Calm (์•„์นจ๊ณ ์š”์ˆ˜๋ชฉ์› ์˜ค์ƒ‰๋ณ„๋น›์ •์›์ „)
Held from December 8th, 2017 until March of next year, the festival of lights at the Garden of Morning Calm is the biggest in Korea. Prepare to be wowed by the sight of tens of thousands of glowing lights in every possible colour covering acres and acres of land.

Admission ranges from 5,500 (child) to 9,000KRW (adult). Visit their website for more information.

ATTEND A WINTER FESTIVAL

There’s no doubt that Korea loves its festivals and in winter, there’s a huge variety to choose from.

Sunrise Festivals
All across the country, from December 31st to January 1st, thousands of people are standing on high mountains or lined up on a coast in the bitter cold waiting for the sun to rise. Koreans believe that wishes made while witnessing the first sunrise of the year, are more powerful.

ํ•ด์šด๋Œ€12๊ฒฝ. ์•„ํ™‰๋ฒˆ์งธ, ํ•ด์šด๋Œ€์ผ์ถœ ํ•ด์šด๋Œ€์˜ ์ˆ˜ํ‰์„ ์—์„œ ๋– ์˜ค๋ฅด๋Š” ์šฉ๊ด‘๋กœ์ฒ˜๋Ÿผ ์ด๊ธ€๊ฑฐ๋ฆฌ๋Š” ์‹ ๋น„ํ•œ ์ผ์ถœ์€ ์žฅ๊ด€์„ ์ด๋ฃฌ๋‹ค. ์ด๋ฅผ ๋ณด๊ธฐ์œ„ํ•ด ๋งค๋…„ ์‹ ๋…„ํ•ด๋งž์ด ์ธํŒŒ๊ฐ€ ๋ชจ์—ฌ๋“ ๋‹ค. #๋ถ€์‚ฐ#๋ถ€์‚ฐ์—ฌํ–‰#์—ฌํ–‰#ํ•ด์šด๋Œ€#ํ•ด์šด๋Œ€12๊ฒฝ#ํ•ด์šด๋Œ€์ผ์ถœ#ํ•ด์šด๋Œ€ํ•ด๋งž์ด#ํ•ด๋งž์ด#ํ•ด๋งž์ด์ถ•์ œ#๋ฐ”๋‹ค#์—ฌํ–‰์•„์ดํ#์—ฌํ–‰ํ…Œ์ŠคํŠธ#busan#travel#trip#tour#journey#test#iq#

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If you’re in Seoul, you can avoid traffic congestion out to the East Coast by attending the Achasan Sunrise Festival (์•„์ฐจ์‚ฐ ํ•ด๋งž์ด์ถ•์ œ). It’s easy to access using public transportation and it takes just 15 minutes to hike up to the viewing spot. Be warned though – last year, 40,000 visitors attended.

More details and transport info can be found HERE.

The Ganjeolgot Sunrise Festival (์šธ์‚ฐ ๊ฐ„์ ˆ๊ณถ ํ•ด๋งž์ด์ถ•์ œ) in Ulsan is the place to be if you want to witness the very first sunrise of the year in Korea. More details HERE.

For a full list of lighting, sunrise and winter festivals, you can visit THIS LINK.

Ring in the New Year at the Bosingak Bell Ringing Ceremony
If you want to ring in the new year (literally), in the most traditional of ways, head over to Jongno and listen to the Bosingak Bell being rung 33 times by 16 different people, including the Mayor of Seoul, starting at the stroke of midnight.

้Ÿ“ๅœ‹ๆ™ฎไฟก้–ฃๆ•ฒ้˜่ทจๅนด๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ทไบบ็œŸ็š„ๅคšๅˆฐไธ่กŒ ้‚„ๅฅฝๆˆ‘ๆŽ’ๅœจๆœ€ๅ‰้ข ็ฎ—ๆ˜ฏๆฒ’็™ฝไพ†ไบ† ๅคงๅฎถๆ–ฐๅนดๅฟซๆจ‚๐ŸŒ2017ๆœŸ่จฑ่‡ชๅทฑ่ƒฝๆ›ดๅ‹คๅ‹‰็š„่ฎ€ๆ›ธ #็ฌฌไธ€ๆฌกไนŸๆ˜ฏๆœ€ๅพŒไธ€ๆฌก #์ฒ˜์Œ์ด์ž ๋งˆ์ง€๋ง‰์ด์•ผ#๋ณด์‹ ๊ฐํƒ€์ข…ํ–‰์‚ฌ #์ƒˆํ•ด ๋ณต ๋งŽ์ด ๋ฐ›์œผ์„ธ์š”

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The tradition of ringing the Bosingak Bell began way back in Joseon Dynasty times, when it was rung every day at the start and end of the day.

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The closest subway station is Jonggak on Line 1. To accommodate the ceremony, Seoul metro will be kept running until 2AM on December 31st. Details HERE.

31st Busan Polar Bear Swimming Festival (๋ถ๊ทน๊ณฐ ์ˆ˜์˜๋Œ€ํšŒ)
On January 6th-7th, 2018 you can become one of 5,000 (crazy) Busan Polar Bears, by diving into the icy cold waters of Haeundae Beach, during the 31st Polar Bear Swim.

Considered one of the best festivals in the country, participation costs 20,000KRW, and it looks like you get some really cute SWAG out of it.

Register and find more detailed information HERE.

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival (ํ™”์ฒœ์‚ฐ์ฒœ์–ด์ถ•์ œ)
Hwacheon is the first area in Korea to freeze over each year, with Hwacheon stream becoming a thick sheet of ice perfect for ice fishing, ice skating, hockey, bobsledding and much more. If you’re brave enough, you can even try bare-handed fishing.

The prime catch at the Ice Festival is the Sancheoneo fish. Full of vitamins, amino and fatty acids, it only survives in super clean, super cold water.

This year, the festival takes place from January 6th -28th, 2018. Sign up for ice fishing, and find all the details and transport info on their website.

ESCAPE THE COLD

If you’re one of those people who just can’t get warm, no matter what, here’s a few winter activities designed just for you.

Go Strawberry Picking
Are Korean strawberries the most delicious ones in the world? Possible, I think. And what better way to eat them, then by picking them yourself, while staying super warm in a greenhouse.

We visited the ๋Œ€๊ฐ€๋†์› farm in Namyangju, but there are tons of greenhouses located all over the country. Check out THIS BLOG for detailed information about where, how and when to pick strawberries in Korea.

Visit the Salt Cave Healing Centre
Breathing in tiny micrometre particles of salt at the Salt Cave Healing Centre near Namdaemun might just cure what ails you. Said to help with asthma, certain types of allergies and general fatigue – at the very least, it’ll get you out of the cold and surrounded by the womb-like warmth of a cave made entirely out of sun-dried Pacific salt.

๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ›€๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ›Œ [์†Œ๊ธˆ๋™๊ตดํž๋ง์„ผํ„ฐ ์ฒดํ—˜๊ถŒ์ฆ์ • ์ด๋ฒคํŠธ] ํ•œ ํ•ด ์—ด์‹ฌํžˆ ๋‹ฌ๋ ค์˜จ ์ž, ์‰ฌ์–ด๋ผ! . Q. ๋‚ด๊ฐ€ ๊ฐ€์žฅ ํœด์‹์ด ํ•„์š”ํ•œ ๋•Œ๋Š” ______ ํ•  ๋•Œ๋‹ค! ๋Œ“๊ธ€์„ ๋‚จ๊ฒจ์ฃผ์‹  ํŒ”๋กœ์›Œ 5๋ถ„์„ ์ถ”์ฒจํ•ด ํž๋ง๋„ ํ•˜๊ณ , ๊ฑด๊ฐ•๋„ ์ฑ™๊ธธ ์ˆ˜ ์žˆ๋Š” ๊ณณ, ์‚ฌ๋ฐฉ์ด ์ฒœ์ผ์—ผ์œผ๋กœ ์ด๋ฃจ์–ด์ง„ ์†Œ๊ธˆ๋™๊ตดํž๋ง์„ผํ„ฐ ์ฒดํ—˜๊ถŒ์„ ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. . <๋‹น์ฒจ์ž ๋ฐœํ‘œ> 12์›” 19์ผ 17์‹œ / 5๋ช… (1์ธ 2๋งค) * ๋‹น์ฒจ Tip. ํ•จ๊ป˜ ๊ฐ€๊ณ  ์‹ถ์€ ์นœ๊ตฌ ๋งŽ์ด ํƒœ๊ทธํ• ์ˆ˜๋ก ๋‹น์ฒจ ํ™•๋ฅ  Up! #timeoutseoul #ํƒ€์ž„์•„์›ƒ์„œ์šธ #์†Œ๊ธˆ๋™๊ตด #์ฒœ์ผ์—ผ #์†Œ๊ธˆ๋™๊ตดํž๋ง์„ผํ„ฐ #healing #ํž๋ง

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Get there by taking Exit 3 at Hoehyeon Station.

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SPREAD HOLIDAY LOVE

For me, this time of year is about connecting with those we love and being grateful for everything the year has brought and taught us. I’ve been incredibly blessed in my life, and it’s important to remember that not everyone is so fortunate.

Spread some holiday love by:

Sponsoring an unwed mother and her child in the 2017 KUMFA Holiday Gift Drive
Being a single mother in Korea can be incredibly difficult, not just financially, but because of outdated ideas and social stigma.

PC: www.kumfa.or.kr

This holiday gift drive allows you to sponsor a family and buy a gift for the children of unwed mothers. There’s a list of wishes on their website, and most of the requests are so humble, that I couldn’t make it through the list without shedding a tear. Ok…a lot of tears.

*Update: Since I began writing this post, EVERY single one of the KUMFA families found sponsors. HOORAY! However, KUMFA supports families not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. Donate HERE.

Have you braved a winter in Korea? Do you have any must-do winter activities that should be added to the list? Share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you. <3

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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. This really looks like there’s so many things to do i Korea in the winter! Didn’t know the polar bear swim was such popular event – and it looks like so many people are happy to take a chilly dive in the sea. When I go to the beach during winter, I already shiver and shake from the cold just by standing on shore ๐Ÿ˜€

    The strawberry picking looks like so much fun, and under a roof indoors too. Looks like Naia likes the strawberry…or doesn’t she ๐Ÿ˜€

    December 22, 2017
    • This is just Part 1 of the post. I have another post with 11 more things to do. Haha. Korea has 4 totally different seasons that each last about 3 months each – so there’s a huge variety of stuff to do in EVERY season. Personally I think people who do that polar bear swim are crazy, but Agri may be joining them. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Naia LOVED the strawberries – except that she would only bite off the tip and then give it to me or Agri to finish. She’s like that with everything. She takes one bite of everything and then puts it down. Hahahaha no wonder I’m gaining weight… :p

      December 24, 2017
      • What, Agri joining in the polar bear swim ๐Ÿ˜€ I remember you mentioned he is quite athletic but doing some swimming in some very cold weather is very much next level, lol. Maybe goad Naia into giving all her food to Agri, he can work off all the food ๐Ÿ˜€

        December 24, 2017
  2. Sha #

    I’m finally back in winter!! But I can’t do any of these recommendations ๐Ÿ˜” I shall toddle along in the cold instead….haha ๐Ÿ˜„

    December 25, 2017
    • Ooooh and it is damn cold this year too…colder than I remember being in all the years I’ve lived here. At least it’s sunny and clear, right? See ya soon!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      December 27, 2017
      • Sha #

        My hands are frozen trying to take photos…but oh well, I’m only here for this week…you still have January n February ๐Ÿ˜ see u later!

        December 27, 2017
  3. that garden with all the lights looks – AMAZING!

    December 25, 2017
    • I definitely have it on my list for this winter! I’ve only been in fall, but its apparently amazing in EVERY season.

      December 27, 2017
  4. Coming from a tropical country (Malaysia) it always amazed me to see that even Asian countries can have harsh winters. Are you coming to Malaysia any time soon? I would love to meet your beautiful family!

    December 27, 2017
    • Hehe I’m the opposite! I’ve always lived in countries with winter, so I’m surprised by places that DON’T have much change in seasons. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I was actually just thinking a few days ago about Malaysia, and wanting to get back there. Where do you live? I’ll definitely get in touch when we visit (and of course, please let us know if you make it to Korea…). ๐Ÿ™‚

      December 28, 2017
      • I live in Petaling Jaya, one of the cities on the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur. But there is a direct MRT line from my house to KL City centre. Please let me know, I can bring you to places where the locals eat and off the normal beaten path ๐Ÿ™‚

        December 28, 2017
        • Ahhh that sounds totally amazing. Love getting off the normal beaten path…and all about the food! ๐Ÿ™‚

          December 28, 2017
          • yeah. I am thinking of bringing you guys to try shell-out. And maybe some nasi lemak which is frequented by the locals. And if you are into hiking or jungle trekking, there is a nice trail nearby my house and it is suitable even for kids! ๐Ÿ™‚

            December 28, 2017
            • We’ve tried nasi lemak in Bali – is it different in Malaysia? but I’ve never heard of shell-out!

              December 29, 2017
              • Nasi lemak is actually Malaysiaโ€™s national dish and to be honest, I thought nasi lemak is only in Malaysia and in Indonesia they have nasi uduk. So I not sure. You have to try to know. Hehe

                And shell out is actually seafood cooked together and they will serve the dish on a table covered with plastic or glossy paper and we eat it from there. Hehe

                December 29, 2017

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