Thursday, January 8, 2015

Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival


I can't believe it's already 2015 - what?! Where did 2014 go?

I took a few days (okay, a week or so) off from blogging to work on a few other projects, but have finally had a bit of time for this next post. During the holiday break, we checked one destination off of our Korea bucket list and took the USO tour to see Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm. Here's your virtual tour, with as many pictures as I can cram in.

First stop was Nami Island. Also known as Naminara Republic, it is located near Chuncheon, about 63 km northeast of Seoul, in the middle of the Han River. It has a circumference of 5 km and claims to be a self-sufficiant republic, with its own flag, money, stamp, etc. 

Nami Island can be reached in one of two ways: by a quick 5 minute ferry boat ride (the option we chose that brisk, wintery morning) or by a thrilling zipline entry (which my 4 year-old was adamant that he wanted to do - not happening, buddy!).

He enjoyed the boat ride.

He also had some great fun with all of the statues and ice sculptures they had available right now for the winter season. He was the only one who fit in the igloo.

Nami Island was named after General Nami, a figure in Korean history who fought bravely in numerous battles but died at the age of 26.  His tomb and memorial are on the island - the dome-shaped item in this next picture.

The rest of the island is dedicated to fun, hiking, and nature - with trails large and small leading to numerous shops, restaurants, a song museum, and lots of artwork. We traveled through a mini maze...

...crossed natural bridges...

...and, of course, found the playground.

Along the way, we admired the facilities and various displays:

This is a popular tourist destination all year long, as a very popular Korean drama 
was filmed here, called Winter Sonata.

We took the obligatory picture with the commemorative statue.

Speaking of statues, there are pieces of artwork all over the island.  Some of them are whimsical like these statues:

The art studio features clay sculptures by artist Yu Qing Cheng, a self-taught sculptor from China, who focused on the human form and folk art. His work is scattered all over the island, so be prepared to come face to face with the naked human form (with some very well-endowed males and females) along your walks.

This is one example (one of the less R-Rated versions, at least). 

A joyful one:

And a "what the???" one:

This next piece is a giant outdoor sculpture, across the road from the Winter Sonata statue.  The sign nearby said it represents Mother Earth feeding the twin rivers in China.

There were also some random ostriches on the island. Just after this shot, some poor soul lost a glove to this pecking pro while trying to take a selfie.

There was also a beautiful peacock outside the local broadcasting studio. Perhaps it got lost and thought it was near NBC?

All of the walking around in the cold made us hungry, so we stopped for some Nami sausages - great tasting, especially with the sweet mustard sauce on top.

Since we were so close to Christmas, they still had some nice decorations up everywhere:

And some very creative trees, made form recycled products (a theme of the island).

On Metasequoia Lane, in the middle of the island, we found these real, redwood trees lining the path. Planted in 1977, they are still just babies, but beautiful to see.

We stopped for a quick dinner of grilled chicken.

And again experienced the interesting sense of humor the Koreans have...this was the Women's bathroom (yes, I had to go back out and check the door sign.). Notice where the doorknobs are?

And so ended our tour of Nami Island.

We jumped back on the tour bus and headed over to the Lighting Festival at the Garden of Morning Calm.  Lots and lots of pretty lights - here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Happy New Year!


  1. It looks deadly! Evening pictures are fab:)

    1. Hard to take those pictures - just glad I was able to get a few good ones with only my phone!

  2. hello..this is queenie..was the USO tour worth every won?my family (with 1 senior) would be visiting seoul this february and we want to see the garden of the morning calm at you advise that we should take this tour they offer?i don't want us to go there by public transport since i read that it is far from seoul and we might have difficulties in going back to seoul.

    1. Hi there - for us, with a 4 year old, wanting to see the night lights, and not wanting to drive or take public transport late at night, it was worth it. The only thing I would have changed was wanting more time on Nami Island, to walk around a bit more and try some of the amenities, such as the bikes or more time in the museum, etc., but only if we had gone in the spring (warmer weather).

  3. hello, it's me again! did they just give you some hours to roam around in nami and in the garden on your own?or you had to follow the guide all the time?

    1. Once we were on the island, we were on our own, and then we just had a meeting time/place at the end.

  4. also with the garden?they gave you free time?