Riding the Korean Wave: Asia’s Big Soft Power Player
Korea may be relatively small but it has impressive flex. A strong sense of national pride can be detected in everything from the country’s unique cuisine to its influential fashion, cosmetics, tech, and music.
RIDING THE KOREAN WAVE: ASIA’S BIG SOFT POWER PLAYER
Korea may be relatively small, but it has impressive flex. A strong sense of national pride can be detected in everything from the country’s unique cuisine to its influential fashion, cosmetics, tech, and music. These often-contrasting elements balance Korea’s old culture with its new modern identity. Here are some of the reasons why the country’s contemporary culture is so compelling.
FOOD FOR THE SEOULTypical K-BBQ with side dishes (banchan)
Korean cuisine has long been a dark horse in culinary circles. Once overshadowed by neighbors such as China and Japan, the country is now established as one of Asia's most thrilling gastronomic destinations. Delectable food can be found around the nation. Busan is famous for its seafood, while the southern island of Jeju is known for its prized black pig: the ultimate in Korean BBQ delights. Seoul, unsurprisingly, is the nexus of the country’s culinary scene. In the capital, the country’s gastronomic manna reaches its apogee in a range of dining environments. Fine-dining lovers are well catered for in Michelin starred venues such as Gaon, La Yeon, Mosu, and Jungsik. For an earthier experience, hit the streets and wash down treats such as fried chicken, spicy stir-fried squid, and dukboki (fish cakes) with lashings of beer or shochu. And for a very different culinary outing, guests can cook Korean temple food with monk (and kitchen guru) Jeong-Kwan, who has become a Korean food icon. Korea’s drinking culture is also renowned. For a refined tipple make for Charles H and the Four Seasons Seoul – the intimate cocktail bar was placed 13 in the latest Asia’s 50 Best Bars rankings.
Suggested Itinerary: Busan and Seoul by Night
The Korean export most likely to resonate with large swathes of the world population is its pop music confections. K-Pop has become huge news all over the planet with groups and artists such as Psy, BTS, BlackPink, Super Junior, and many others scoring global smashes. Visitors to Seoul — the hub of the K-Pop industry — can catch a glimpse into the lives of the country’s world-beating artists. Under the tutelage of the country's top pop industry experts, guests can sing, dance, and even star as a K-Pop idol in a music video.
Suggested Itinerary: Seoul: Riding the Korean Wave
HAVEN FOR HEALINGBukhansan National Park
Korea has become a byword for beauty treatments and for years, experts have considered Korean skincare to be the gold standard of quality and efficacy. Top Korean brands include Innisfree, Missha, and — at the highest end of the luxury scale — Sulwhasoo. The latter brand also offers some of the country's most exquisite pampering experiences at its Seoul spas. Health, wellness, and beauty are national obsessions. Koreans believe that hiking is one of the keys to longevity and fantastic walking trails can be found in destinations like Bukhansan National Park, Geumjeongsan, and Jirasan, Korea’s tallest mountain. Other top wellness options include Busan, where visitors can indulge in the country’s largest jjimjilbang (traditional spa), a truly revitalizing and authentically Korean experience.
Suggested Itinerary: Revitalization, Korean Style
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