Seoraksan National Park
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dragon in the rafters
Look up when passing through the gate at the entrance of Shin-heung-sa temple; you'll see a dragon in the rafters. Near the entrance of Seoraksan National Park, you'll find this Buddhist temple on the valley floor. (Dating to the 7th century, it's one of the oldest Zen ("Seon" in Korean) temples in the world.) Before heading off on one of the many hiking trails in what is arguably South Korea's most scenic corner, it's worth exploring this colorful cluster of religious buildings. The giant bronze Buddha nearby was cast in the hopes for re-unifying the peninsula...(the DMZ is only 30 miles north, as the crow flies...) To find tranquility among these mountain peaks, come mid-week. Weekends, (especially in the glorious fall), it can sometimes feel as if half of the population of South Korea has come to these mountains all at the same time! Seoraksan National Park is about a 4-hr. trip from Seoul via express bus. These mountains are just north of the site of the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics. Come now while it's still slightly off the world radar...
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