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[Editorial] Reverse depopulation
[One with Nature] Escape summer heat deep in the valley at MureunggyegokBy Lee Si-jin
Published : June 24, 2023 - 16:01
DONGHAE, Gangwon Province -- Before “hocance” -- a one- or two-night luxury hotel stay -- took hold, many Koreans made their summer getaways at valleys.
Air-conditioning and megasize swimming pools are no match for the cool wind blowing through the valley and soothing sounds of the bubbling stream.
Mureunggyegok, or Mureung Valley, is known as a paradise -- lying between Dutasan and Cheongoksan -- where the gods used to live in Korean folklore.
A light stroll from the entrance leads you to a stunning granite valley, with unique rock formations and cliffs, making visitors feel like they have been brought into a different world.
The valley was visited by many “seonbi” -- or Korean literati -- in the Goryeo period (918-1392), who paid tribute to the nature of Mureunggyegok by engraving poems into the rock face.
Stretching almost 4 kilometers, the cool stream is perfect for a dip or to splash around in.
If you are not a big fan of summer outdoor activities or crowd-packed tourist destinations, Mureunggyegok might just offer a calm, tranquil atmosphere to immerse yourself in, just like the Goryeo seonbi of the past.
You can also easily spot stone engravings made by ancient master calligraphers and painters.
For those who do not like staying in one place for a long time, hiking the nearby mountain trail also offers scenic nature views.
The trail at Mureunggyegok features two iconic waterfalls -- Ssang Falls, meaning twin waterfalls in Korean, and Yongchu Falls.
As you move through the lush forest, you'll hear the mighty waterfall before you see it. Take a moment to bask in the sounds of the water crashing against the rocks and let it wash away the fatigue of the day.
The path is mostly covered with wooden decks and iron steps and the round-trip hike to the waterfalls takes about two hours.
Pay a visit to Mureung Oseonnyeotang, a 10-minute walk from Mureunggyegok, which is a city-funded facility with several outdoor swimming pools built with natural stones and water drawn from Mureunggyegok.
The clean, shallow water offers a safe environment, especially for those who come with their children.
The admission to Mureung Oseonnyeotang is free. The eco-friendly swimming pool is scheduled to operate July 12 - Aug. 20.
This article is the 12th in a series introducing destinations for eco-friendly travel experiences in South Korea. --Ed.
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