South Korea: Nami Island

IMG_8874.JPGIf you’re a fan of Korean popular culture, especially Kdramas, then Nami Island will be familiar to you.

An island located inland of South Korea, Nami Island was created after a dam was built, the water pulling away and revealing a small island shaped like a moon. Since its creation, Nami Island has become a popular destination for all – a perfect blend of Korean culture, beautiful nature, and fun attractions.

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My foot was in a cast, as this was only the day after I had broken my foot. Nami Island had wheelchairs for rent and I was able to use it and my crutches to get around decently well – accessibility isn’t really a problem (my cast is wrapped in plastic bags because it was raining).

Nami island is beautiful in any kind of weather, but is best seen during the summer and fall, on a clear day. I however, went on a cloudy day in the middle of summer, meaning both rain and crazy humidity.

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Getting to the island isn’t that difficult, even though it is more than an hour away from Seoul. It is accessible by Shuttle Bus, Subway, and of course taxis or cars. Upon arriving, you have to get on a ferry in order to get to the island. The cost is under 10,000 won, but you also have the option to zip line into the island, which is around 40,000 won. When on the island, maps are provided as well as details on what to see in each area.

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As you can see in the map above, there are a plethora of options available to see, separated by different “villages”. The west side is best known for its nature, the south for its gardens and hotel, the north for the ferry entrance and many different facilities you can use, and finally the east is known for being closest to the main street, where most of the non-nature attractions lie.

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The main street is beautiful, with lights strung in the trees, cute figurines along the side, many fountains, peacocks and ducks wandering around, and even a ostritch farm! Nami Island is able to sell “cute” well, with many small details adorning the island to make it even more charming.

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This charming feel is why it has been integrated into Korean popular culture. Since its appearance in the Kdrama Winter Sonata, the number of visitors coming to visit has increased rapidly. Since then, it has made various appearances in film and tv, including more than just Korean films. It now has a hut dedicated to such appearances, seen below.

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Nami Island is a great example of how a business should be run. Along with smart decisions related to tourism, the island is eco-friendly and recycles most of their waste. Additionally, many of the employees are friendly and open to talking about their experiences, and each time they said how much they loved working at Nami. Looking into it more, I saw that Nami really values their employees and doesn’t force them to retire and makes accommodations for them.

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Additionally, Nami employs many artists to make sculptures and art exhibits, adding to its unique and quirky nature. Many burgeoning artists can owe the continuation of their careers to Nami Island. Their art is available for purchase, as well as many other adorable gift shops that are perfect for souvenirs.

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Nami is a unique experience in another regard, as it is actually a micronation. A micronation is an area that claims to be independent from a country but isn’t actually recognized as a separate country. Even so, it is self-governing and you’ll need to bring your passport to enter. As a republic, it is called the Naminara Republic.

IMG_8856.JPGThis beautiful place was a great way to get out of the city and be integrated back into nature. The food and ambiance were exceptional and the people were warm and welcoming. I highly recommend a visit when traveling to South Korea!

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