World Cup 2002, A Global Festival in Korea
The FIFA World Cup 2002 marks the first global festival of the 21st century. For the first time ever, the World Cup is held in Asia and co-hosted by two countries: Japan and Korea, in a display of unity and harmony. An estimated 1.6 million people, including players, officials and half a million fans are expected to be in Korea for the month long series of events, which will be held from May 31 till June 30.
Footie fans, here are some tips to keep you sane while traveling around Korea during the mad-cap season:
Oh No! Where Am I Going to Stay?
Accommodation prices, even at previously "budget" hotel will be sky-high. Waiting until arrival in Korea to begin your hunt for accommodation would not be a good idea at all - unless you like lugging heavy bags all over Korea and paying exorbitant transportation charges, only to be turned away at every hotel and inn! To make things a little easier for visitors and prevent a mad rush for last minute room bookings, the Korean Organizing Committee have set up a website for prior Internet bookings. If you've got money to burn, log on to the FIFA World Cup Accommodation Bureau, which can arrange accommodations at official top-class hotels at the ten host cities dotted all over South Korea.
Those with more moderate budgets should check out alternative accommodations at the World Inn website. Here, you can find a list of cheaper hotels and inns, partake in Korean culture by booking a home stay or bunk over at backpacker dormitories. Run by the Korean government and the National Tourism Organization, travelers are ensured of bona-fide arrangements.
Here is a run-down on what to expect for less than cut-throat prices:
Yeogwan (Korean inn)
Most offers rooms with two single bed (or a Queen size double bed). Some may only have traditional Korean mats for guests to sleep on the floor. The ensuite rooms are usually air conditioned, with a TV, telephone and refrigerator included.
Price Range: US 40 to US 70/night, depending on the location.
Home stay Accommodation
For something different, how about choosing to stay with a Korean family? The Korea National Tourism Organization can arrange for home stay accommodation in apartments with Korean families to exchange cultural experiences. Depending on the arrangements, you may be required to share a room with your "hosts". Some host families offer meals and guided trips around Korea as well.
The home stay system is actually quite well established in Korea. Besides the official website (provided above), there are several other home stay organizations with websites:
Price Range: US 20 to US 50/night. (If you're lucky, there are even families providing free home stays! In such cases, you only pay an application fee of about US 20 to the home stay organization for making the arrangements.)
Similar to youth and student hostels all over the world, this is the typical, backpacker-type accommodation. Note that dormitories are only widely available in major Korean cities such as Seoul, Incheon and Jeongju.
Price Range: US 10 to US 30/night
Since the World Cup 2002 is hosted in ten cities all over Korea: Seoul, Incheon, Suwon, Daejeon, Jeonju, Gwanju, Daegu, Ulsan, Busan (Pusan) and Seogwipo; getting around can be a bit of a hassle (and costly) if you're not sure where exactly you're heading to. Some of the Korean airports (in the cities of Suwon, Daejeon, Gwangju and Seogwipo) are quite a distance from the main football venue as well. Besides flying between the host cities, you can travel by rail or express bus.
Korail Pass: Two types of Korail pass are available for visitors, one for consecutive usage and the other for selective use.
A Consecutive Pass gives you unlimited access to all types of trains (except subway in Seoul), including the costly and comfortable Saemaeulho express train. Pass holders enjoy unlimited travel for five or seven days without any restrictions on route. A five day pass costs 71900 won and the seven day pass costs 90700 won.
A Selective Pass, on the other hand, is valid for a month. Pass holders purchase a limited number of trips and enjoy a discount depending on number of trips purchased. The 6-8 trip plan gives a discount of 15%, 9-14 trip plan a 20% discount and 15-20 trip plan a 25% discount.
Special Korail Pass: Foreign travelers can purchase a special pass at designated agencies outside Korea. The unlimited, single-user pass costs US 48 for a three day pass, US 72 for a five day pass, US 91 for a seven day pass and for ten days unlimited travel, US 106. Saver tickets are available if you purchase more than one Special Korail Pass from the same vendor. Saver tickets cost US 44, 65, 82 and 96 for three, five, seven and ten days of unlimited travel respectively.
Express Buses is another choice to get around the venues, but since the tickets prices are not fixed, this can prove to be an expensive choice.
Some Information on the host cities...
Visitors arriving in the capital of Korea are often surprised by how cosmopolitan this city is. With a long history as the capital since the Joseon Dynasty in 1392, Seoul have successfully risen again after the Korean War. Despite being a modern city, there are still many ancient architecture and cultural vestiges preserved all around the city. Divided by the Han River, the south part of Seoul offers classy boutiques and trendy places. The northern capital are the historical palaces, Confucian shrines and Buddhist pagodas.
In between matches...check out the Lotte World, an all-in-one entertainment complex housing an amusement park, skating rink and bowling alley. For some splendid architecture, visit the Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces. The grandeur and imposing beauty of Gyeongbokgung and the beautiful gardens in Changdeokgung will give you an insight on how the Joseon Dynasty rulers lived.
Incheon, an international port, have emerged as a trade hub in Northeast Asia. This port has close links with neighboring Chinese cities - with many cargo ships bringing products from Shanghai, Tianjin and Weihai.
In between matches...visit the ancient Jeondeungsa Temple, believed to have been built during the Three Kingdoms Dynasty some 1600 years ago. It boosts of beautiful sculptures, colorful paintings called Dancheong and a unique Buddhist temple bell. If you're missing the street cafes and chic restaurants, drop by at the Wolmido Street of Culture.
The main highlight of this city is the huge Hwaseong Fortress, one of the most outstanding example of military architecture built in the 18th century. Besides being well-protected, Suwon is well known for its festivals and fine Korean cuisines.
In between matches...the Hwaseong Fortress, made of stone and mud, is a must-visit. To get immersed in the Joseon Dynasty culture, visit the Korean Folk Village. This village recreates cultural and historical themes from the ancient Joseon Dynasty - complete with actors and artisans in full costume acting in the ancient Korean houses, government buildings and brassware workshops. The Folk Village is often used as a background in historical movies.
Location in central Korea, Daejeon is the science and technology hub of Korea. This is Korea's information technology research city. In typical Korean contrast of old and new, the ancient city of Gonju and Buyeo, capitals of the Baekje Kingdom (18BC - 660AD) is situated nearby.
In between matches...take a day tour to Gonku and Buyeo. Here, you can see ancient tombs and relics from the Baekje Kingdom. If you're interested in IT, check out Korea's answer to Silicon Valley: Daedeok Valley. There is a Science Expo Park, National Science Museum and Currency Museum here.
As the village of Joseon Dynasty's Yu village, Jeonju is famous as a town of culture, cuisine and artistic tradition. Famous food from Jeonju include Jeonju Bibimbab (rice mixed with vegetables) and Jeonju Hanjeonsik (a full-course Jeongju meal). Elegant Korean fans and paintings, as well as the yearly International Film and Music Festival, contributes to Jeonju's fame.
In between matches...visit the Gyeonggijeon shrine, built in honor of King Yi Taejo, founder of the great Joseon Dynasty. The Stone Pagoda in Mireuksaji is Kora's first stone pagoda, built during the Baekjae Kingdom.
This Mecca of culture and arts is the home to cultural artifacts from the Baekje Dynasty and birthplace of many famous scholars and artists. Gwanju is also where the art of pansori (narrative singing) originated from.
In between matches...check out the relics of the Baekje royal family and the largest collection of ancient Korean paintings from the Gwanju National Museum. During the World Cup season, the Gwanju International Biennale will also be held. A wide variety of media arts from all over Korea - photographs exhibition, videos and performances will be held.
The third largest city in Korea, Daegu is Korea's Milan, the leading fashion city for textiles and fashion. It is also the education capital of Korea. Situated about an hour's drive from Daegu is Gyeongju, the ancient capital of Silla Kingdom and home to numerous Buddhist temples.
In between matches...take a short detour to Gyeongju, a UNESCO heritage site. In particular, the Bulguksa temple and Seokguram stone grotto exemplifies the high aesthetic standards of ancient Korea. The image of seated Buddha in Seokguram is known for its generous facial expression and elegant proportions. Closer to Daegu is the Andong Hahoe Village, famous for its distinctive Hanoe masks and Byeolsin Gut (shaman ritual) mask dance. For those looking for traditional Korean herbs, the Yangnyeongsi has countless shops selling Oriental medicine and herb clinics.
Ulsan is a beautiful port city in southeast Korea, bordered by the sea in the east and mountains in the west. Huge companies, including Hyundai motors, operate factories in this city.
In between matches...a walk along the Ulsan coast, towards the Petroglyphs of Bangudae brings you back to Neolithic Age. On the rocks, stretching over a 99 square meter are, carvings of numerous human figures - fishermen and hunters as well as animals -- of the mid-Neolithic Age till the Stone Age are depicted.
An international metropolis with 4 million residents, Busan (or Pusan) is also the host of the 14th Asian Games in 2002. Every summer, Koreans from all over the country flock to the Gwangalli and Haeundae Beaches near downtown Busan.
In between matches...water lovers can go water skiing, boating and wind surfing at the Gwangalli and Haeundae Beaches. Have a meal at the Jagaichi Seafood Market, the sashimi dishes here are reputedly the best in Korea.
The only island host city, Seogwipo is known for three attributes: beautiful beaches, strong winds and beautiful women. Dotted with soft, beautiful sand beaches, visitors can enjoys a host of maritime activities here. Tangerine farms, are another unique feature of this Jejudo Island. Its exotic beauty makes it the top honeymoon destination for Koreans.
In between matches...take a climb up Mount Hallasan, the highest mountain in Korea with a dormant volcano lake crater at its summit. Its spring azalea blossoms are especially legendary. Several farms in the inland offer horseback riding and other farm activities.
From football matches to sedate hillside temples, pristine waterfalls, breathtaking amusement park to Confucian academies and museums - have a great culture experience in Korea this coming June!
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