The South Korean province of Gangwon-do, anchored by the city of Sokcho, may seem a far-flung and sparsely populated corner of the country, with a less than favourable border to its north. However, winter snow transforms the mountainous region into one of the world’s most underrated skiing paradises.
Four national parks call the region home, including the Seoraksan National Park, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Sobaeksan National Park, Chiaksan National Park, and Odaesan National Park. Nature lovers are equally drawn to the Taebaek and Sobaek mountain ranges, where the region’s famed ski resorts have set up camp, or for a change of pace, Jumunjin and Sokcho beaches. Gangwon-do’s location on the northern border also makes it a prime location for a unique travel experience a tour of the DMZ, or demilitarised zone that separates North Korea from South Korea. This four-kilometre ceasefire is a rare glimpse into one of the most insulated nations in history.
International flights arrive at Yangyang Airport, and three train lines serve the region, along with express buses to all other parts of South Korea. All cities in the area have extensive local buses and intercity bus services.
The Gangwon-do province may be known today as a region of South Korea, but before World War II, it was much larger. This historic district dates back to the 14th century Joseon Dynasty when Korea had just eight provinces. In 1945, the 38th parallel divide between U.S. and Russian forces split the province in two.