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Destinations Asia South Korea

South Korea Holidays & Tours

Forward-looking South Korea is one of the world’s most technologically advanced nations – a place where science fiction becomes fact. Its cities are the most ‘wired’ on the planet, pulsing with internet speeds hundreds of times faster than Europe or the US, and the frontier of ‘augmented reality’, the fusion of urban and digital worlds that many say is the brave future of humanity. Indeed, the convergence of man and machine appears to be confirmed by the increasingly common sight of robotic teaching assistants in South Korean schools.

But South Korea’s love of technology – and whole-hearted embrace of western-style capitalism – masks a much older, conservative side of the national character. Traditional Korean culture, solemn and vibrant by turns, blends the humane and hierarchical tenets of Confucianism, the selfless devotion of Buddhism, and unique forms of folk culture rooted in the ancient lore of shamanism. Situated between China and Japan, South Korea is one of the Far East’s greatest civilisations, a deeply cultural place that boasts thousands of years of aesthetic and philosophical development. The countryside is brimming with ancient tombs, temples, monuments, statuary, pagodas, and carved reliefs depicting the awe and grandeur of Korea’s golden age.

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South Korea’s traditional performing arts, too, evoke the drama of a more ancient and mysterious time with slow-moving meditative music, fantastical dances, sweeping gowns and otherworldly masks straight from the old royal court. Traditional Korean architecture, constructed on Taoist principles, is intended to harmonise with nature, including hanok - houses with elegant tiled roofs, upward-curving eaves, and tranquil, well-tended gardens. Equally, traditional Korean art tends emphasise the beauty and balance of the natural world with flowing motifs of birds, mountains, plants, and trees. Throughout South Korea, crafts are produced to an exceptionally high quality, especially porcelain, bronze, and woodwork.

Perched between the Yellow Sea to the west and the Sea of Japan to the east, the Korean peninsula is extremely mountainous and blessed with a rugged backdrop of cloud-drenched peaks and ethereal highland vistas. Thanks to the nation’s intensive reforestation efforts – part of an innovative $84 billion greening programme - more than two thirds of the country is covered with forests. The country’s serene natural assets are protected by some 20 national parks, great for hiking, biking and rafting or simply sitting quietly and reflecting on the universal flow of yin and yang – twin forces embodied by the deeply symbolic national flag of South Korea, naturally.

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