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Last updated : Nov 2009
Korea South Sports
Korea South Sports - TravelPuppy.com
The Korea (Republic) has considerable experience in hosting main international sporting events, including:

 1986 Asian Games
 the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul
 the 2002 Asian Games
 >the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which it co-hosted together with Japan – the 1st time this main sporting event has taken place in an Asian country.

Sports facilities are normally of a high standard, especially in Seoul and in the larger cities.

Watersports

Visitors will find a wide range of watersport facilities along the southern coast and around the islands. The best time for water sports is during June and November, but paragliding, swimming and whitewater rafting are possible all year-round.

Scuba Diving and Deep sea fishing

A wide variety of scuba diving centres are available along the coast, providing diving classes, equipment rental and air tanks. Cheju-do Island which is about 1 hour by plane from Seoul, is the most renowned destination for scuba diving enthusiasts while the waters surrounding the island are also considered extremely good for deep-sea fishing, and many hotels and companies provide good organised fishing trips.

Windsurfing, water-skiing and boating

Common facilities for boating, water-skiing and windsurfing are normally available in all coastal resorts. Following a huge clean-up during the 1980s, Seoul’s Han-gang River currently offers a number of facilities for water sports and is an ideal place for those wishing to escape a busy city life.

Golf

More than 181 golf courses are available in Korea, the best ones situated close to Seoul, Kyongju and Chejudo. Many of them can be easily reached within a 1 hour drive.

Facilities for accommodation and other sports (such as swimming pools) are normally also integrated within the golf complex. Reservations can be made directly to the golf course or through a travel agent and should be made at least 1 week in advance. Players should note that personal golf clubs must be declared to customs officials upon entering the country. Contact the Korea National Tourism Organisation for more details of membership and fees.

Skiing

There are thirteen ski resorts available, all located within 4 or 5 hours drive from Seoul. The main ones are the Yongpyong Ski Resort (Dragon Valley International Ski Resort) at Tackwallyong Area and Chonmasan Ski Resort near Seoul.

Traditional sports

T’aekwondo is the major martial art practised in Korea. The traditional Korean sport, Ssirum (Korean wrestling), is quite like Sumo wrestling and is a big spectator sport in Korea.

Kite-flying and archery are also Koreans' favourite traditional games.

Festivals

Korea’s rich cultural, historic and religious heritage is celebrated throughout the year in various festivals, some in honour of religious figures (such as Buddha’s birthday), others focusing on nature (eg: the changing seasons). For dates of festivals and special events, see the Public Holidays and Social Profile sections. A complete and detailed list is available at the Korea National Tourism Organisation. The KNTO also arranges a number of theme tours, focusing on history, religion, shopping and crafts.

Historical and cultural tours

A number of historical and cultural tours are available, with particular focus on Korea’s Buddhist heritage. Korea (Republic) contains over 10,000 temples with 20,000 monks. Given the increasing worldwide interest in Buddhism, Korean monks are presently opening their temples and monasteries to visitors. Traditional dining rituals, tea parties and ceremonies are organised to cater for spiritual tourism, while more dedicated seekers can enroll in Buddhist retreats to practise silence, meditation and prayer for periods lasting anything from 3 weeks to several years.

Souvenir tours

Material-minded travellers may go on any of Korea’s souvenir tours, which depend on the country’s reputation as a shoppers’ paradise, with numerous shops offering special duty free prices for foreign visitors. For more information on shopping, see the Social Profile section. Antiques, fashion, medicine, herbs and spices, electronics and wedding clothes feature highly on Korea’s shopping itinerary and the organised tours combine souvenir and bargain hunting with sightseeing.

The best shopping areas and market places are in the capital, Seoul, including Namdaemun (Korea’s largest general wholesale market), Tongdaemun (1 of the oldest markets in Seoul, great for bargains), Myong-dong (Korea’s fashion area), Yongsan Electronics Market (largest electronics and computer market in Korea), Insa-dong (antiques and art), Changanp’yong (1 of the largest antiques markets in the Far East), Noryargjin (fish market), Koyndang (Oriental medicine, spices and herbs market), Itaewon (modern shopping area particularly popular with foreigners), Hwangkhak-dong (flea market, great for the 2nd-hand shopping), Ahyon-dong (the ‘wedding street’, providing over 120 wedding boutiques) and Shinch’on (a shopping street popular with young people, ideal for accessories and fashion).

Pottery and ceramics centres

Organised tours to Korea’s pottery and ceramics centres are also available, including the Kangjin Koryo Celadon kiln site and the Yoju ceramic art village, giving visitors the opportunity to participate in the ancient pottery-making techniques.

Nature tours

Focusing on festivals and seasonal changes, the most famous itineraries for nature tours include the cherry blossom trails, Korea’s flower villages, mountain trips and bird-watching.