South Korea has been a stand out COVID-19 response success story for months, avoiding large scale lockdowns, keeping the economy activity, and keeping case numbers and deaths low.
But the recent surge in cases – the country’s ‘third wave’ – led Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun to announce new restrictions yesterday in an attempt to get things back under control.
South Korea hit a daily record of 1,097 new cases over the weekend, and nearly 900 on Monday.
The new measures include shutting down ski resorts from December 24 until January 3.
Korean may not have the powder of neighbouring Japan, or the terrain variety for a longer stay, but they do have some excellent resorts well worth a look if you are visiting the country in winter, or there on business. Direct transport links from Seoul or Incheon Airport are generally fast and efficient.
Korea also makes an easy stopover on a trip to Japan. Korean Airlines flies direct to several key regional gateway airports in Japan, which can make it just as quick to get to those from Australia as flying via Tokyo. For example, we easily combined Korea with Hokkaido doing just that.
Some small ski areas closest to Seoul run all night on weekends, with a 2 hour snow session in the wee hours following on from partying elsewhere in the city earlier. Not surprisingly, that makes them risky options to leave open in a pandemic.
In our experience skiing for most locals is a short term activity at the best of times. Those with limited recreational time pack in as much as they can into that.
At Alpensia for example, venue for the 2018 Winter Olympic ski jumping, there is a massive indoor water park next to the short slopes, and a big casino next to that.
Snowboarding rules with the younger crowd, and there are decent park set ups most places.
Yongpyong boasts the longest runs, including some challenging piste lines like the Olympic GS course. With 2 metre high cyclone-mesh fencing lining most runs even when it does snow enough for powder you would struggle to get off the pistes. Snow guns are key to most Korean skiing, most resorts largely or fully dependent on man-made snow. Korea’s short cold, dry winters favour snowmaking and retention.
High1 Resort is the number one for natural snow in the country, and boasts another mega casino.
Gangwon Province is the home of most skiing in South Korea, check their site for more ski info & on the many other attractions http://eng.gwd.go.kr/
Korea Tourism Office are a great source of info with many offices worldwide for local material, check www.visitkorea.or.kr