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Adventure travel company Journeys International is aiming to offer U.S. travelers a comprehensive South Korea experience, including not only the modern culture of high-tech Seoul but also the destination’s history, cultural traditions and natural beauty. To that end, Journeys International has announced that its first scheduled group tour to the Korean peninsula will take place in September.
“We’ve wanted to build a program in South Korea for a long time,” said Robin Weber Pollak, president of Journeys International, “but we haven’t wanted to take the leap until we were sure we had a local partner on the ground who really understood our small-group approach to travel and the importance of getting away from major tourist sites to understand the essence of a place.”
Highlights on the new Journeys International itinerary include time in the capital city of Seoul — with visits to the Jogyesa Temple, Gyeongbok Palace (also known as Gyeongbokgung Palace) and National Folklore Museum of Museum — and a stay in the cultural center of Andong, known for its ties to folk traditions. South Korea’s second-largest urban center of Busan is also on the itinerary as well as the tombs, palaces and temples of Gyeongju. In addition, guests will have an opportunity to enjoy the famed natural beauty of Jeju Island and spend time at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the fraught buffer between South and North Korea.
“Most travelers will have lots and lots of questions about the relationship between North and South Korea, and a visit to the DMZ brings this conversation into focus,” Pollak said. “There is even one vantage point from which travelers will be able to see into North Korea, which brings its own thrill of a brush with the forbidden.”
Pollak pointed directly to the two-day visit on Jeju Island as another standout component on the trip, noting that the destination hosts a culture distinct from the rest of South Korea and a stunning volcanic terrain.
“Travelers will learn about the matriarchal society,” she said of Jeju. “And the traditional female ‘haenyeo’ profession, made up of [free-divers] often referred to as mermaids who gather clams, abalone and seaweed for a lucrative living.”
Journeys International’s first 11-day group trip to South Korea will take place on Sept. 28 and starts at $3,995 per person. However, the trip can be booked privately at any time. Travel planners earn a 10 percent commission for booking clients on group departures, and Journeys International will provide net pricing for its private, fully-guided itineraries.
“South Korea is a modern, safe, sophisticated country, yet still full of unknowns and delightful surprises for Americans,” Pollack said. “Korean culture values history and tradition immensely, and that’s almost impossible to discern from American media. Anyone who seeks to understand the layered and multifaceted nature of Korea needs to see it firsthand.”