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.