A great add-on for clients heading to Korea this winter is a
three-day ski trip to the Korean “Alps.” Korea is famous for its
glorious fall and spring seasons, but adventurous clients will
glory in being able to tell folks back home that they skied Korea,
something not many Americans have done yet.
Lots of money has been spent on lifts, gondolas, hotels, snowmaking
and spa facilities over the last decade and the results are
starting to attract attention.
While there are 12 relatively popular ski resorts in Korea, the
dependable quality and quantity of snow at two of the resorts have
made them a focus. The Yongpyong Resort in Gangwon-do province and
the Muju Resort in Jeollabuk-do province are two of the highest on
the peninsula, reaching 5,000 feet in altitude. Both are located
two to four hours driving time from Seoul. Yongpyong
The nation’s oldest ski resort is Yongpyong. It has a long gondola
which ferries skiers from the base to the 4,717-foot peak. From the
top, Korea’s East Sea and soaring Mt. Odaesan are visible on clear
Yongpyong has hosted World Cup ski races but, like many Korean
destinations, it prefers to market itself based on a popular
television drama which was filmed at its location. In this case,
the drama was a love story called “Winter Sonata.” In promotional
literature, Yongpyong suggests lovers stop for an intimate moment
while boarding the gondola. “Why don’t you create your own kiss
scene here in the secretive place?” they inquire.
At Yongpyong, there’s a swimming pool, sauna, disco and karaoke
There are three traditional Korean restaurants to recommend around
Yongpyong for apres-ski grub. Gohyang Iyagi, Odaesan Gagneum Gil
and Sigol Bapsang can all be reached via taxi from the resort. Muju Ski Resort
Another option is the Muju Ski Resort, which opened in 1990 in Mt.
Deokyusan National Park. It has 23 slopes, including the nation’s
longest run, the four-mile Silk Road, offering a gentle slope that
both beginner and intermediate skiers will be able to handle.
Muju also boasts the nation’s steepest run, the Raider Course at
the peak, to get black diamond skiers’ adrenaline moving. And
within the resort, there are Western and Korean restaurants, a pub,
an arcade, an internet cafe and a sauna.
For clients who must ski everywhere, it is possible to book these
trips through a company with U.S. offices called America Tour,
which does pay commissions. Prices, including airfare from the U.S.
and three days skiing, start at $1,400. America Tour can also help
add a ski portion to a larger Korean itinerary.
Both resorts can also be visited on a do-it-yourself basis. Shuttle
buses are timed to hook up with regular bus departures from Seoul.
Apart from the two main resorts, several smaller resorts are also
attractive options and have several distinctive draws.
A smaller resort in Gangwon-do, the Alps Ski Resort has only eight
slopes and five lift lines, but it is a short distance from the
famous Cheoksan Hot Springs. The waters of Cheoksan are said to
cure skin diseases, neuralgia and rheumatism all potential side
effects from the bumps and spills of skiing.
Alps Ski Resort also has the nation’s only ski museum, exhibiting
the history of the sport.
Another resort to consider is the well-thought-out Bearstown in
Gangwon-do. The resort features night-skiing and nine lifts,
including a 3,930-foot-long high-speed quad. The lifts open at 6
a.m. each day, so early risers can start carving turns hours before
late-night partiers awake.
There is extensive snow-making at Bearstown as there is at most
Korean resorts to make sure that the ski season happens with or
without Mother Nature’s cooperation.
Bearstown also has a nice range of accommodation, with two large
condo developments, a 196-room tower and a Youth Hostel at the
With gloriously wide and gentle slopes, Phoenix Park in Gangwon-do
is a good choice for beginners. There’s also a special snowboard
park. with a halfpipe and rails. Its “Key Lift” and Gondola system
shuttles skiers to the top of the mountain quickly, and Phoenix
Park can be reached easily from Seoul via public bus and a free
Closer to Seoul is the Hyundai Sungwoo Resort, just an
hour-and-a-half by highway. There are ski lessons offered in
English, a youth hostel, Korea’s first eight-person gondolas and a
But the closest skiing to Seoul is the appropriately named Seoul
Ski Resort in Namyangju-si province. With just four slopes and four
lifts, the variety is not great, but it is located on Mt.
Baekbongson, known for heavy snowfall.
Korea National Tourism Organization
Seoul Ski Resort