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Overview

Though Gyeonggi and Gangwon sit side-by-side along the North Korean border, it's hard to imagine such a mismatched pair of provinces. Much cut up by the roads and rails that speed passengers to Seoul, doughnut-shaped Gyeonggi is largely made up of featureless commuter cities; in all, 24 million people squeeze into an area roughly the size of Jamaica. Gangwon to the east, however, is mainland Korea's most sparsely populated province, a land of mountains and rushing rivers. Two things that these mismatched provinces do have in common are mountains and lots of winter snow: dozens of ski resorts fling their doors open as soon as the first few ...

Though Gyeonggi and Gangwon sit side-by-side along the North Korean border, it's hard to imagine such a mismatched pair of provinces. Much cut up by the roads and rails that speed passengers to Seoul, doughnut-shaped Gyeonggi is largely made up of featureless commuter cities; in all, 24 million people squeeze into an area roughly the size of Jamaica. Gangwon to the east, however, is mainland Korea's most sparsely populated province, a land of mountains and rushing rivers. Two things that these mismatched provinces do have in common are mountains and lots of winter snow: dozens of ski resorts fling their doors open as soon as the first few flakes hit the ground. Each has equipment for hire, as well as tutors on hand to assist novices. Winter fun aside, there are some sights that can be enjoyed year-round — near the coastal village of Jeongdongjin you'll be able to clamber around a North Korean sub that crashed ashore as recently as 1996. Such proximity to the most heavily fortified border on Earth means that much of Gangwon's coast is fenced off with barbed wire, and the feared DMZ itself can also be visited on a day-trip from Seoul — under the steely gaze of soldiers from both sides, here you'll be able to take a few steps into what is technically North Korean territory.

Norbert Paxton
About the Expert

Norbert Paxton is the author of the Rough Guide to Korea and contributor to the Rough Guides to China and Vietnam.

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Norbert Paxton for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The ski resorts can be packed solid in the winter, so it's best to avoid weekends or Korea's short public holidays.