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When travel meets wellness

Korea Tourism Organization picks top seven spots for wellness travel

The 19th-century American self-help author Napoleon Hill was referring to the deep connection between body and mind when he said, “The body achieves what the mind believes.”

The mind plays an important role in wellness, but it is not easy to achieve wellness while living in a crowded city, venturing out each day and maintaining a hectic schedule.

To help the pandemic weary, the Korea Tourism Organization has recommended seven “wellness travel” destinations.

“Wellness and mindfulness are relatively new themes in Korea, although it has been widespread in Southeast Asian regions as a tourist attracting feature over the last decade,” Kim Kwan-mi, director of the Korea Tourism Organization’s medical and wellness team, told The Korea Herald. Now in its fifth year, this year’s list focused on lesser-known destinations, ones not easily accessible to the general public but that offer a pleasant experience, according to Kim.

The sites fall into four categories -- nature and forest, beauty and spas, healing and meditation, and Asian medicine. Since the program’s launch in 2017, 51 sites have been designated as wellness sites.

The Korea Herald visited four of the destinations last week.

Godowon Healing Center (Ongdalsaem Stay)
Outside Godowon Healing Center’s cafe in the morning (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Outside Godowon Healing Center’s cafe in the morning (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Experts demonstrate at one of the morning practice session of Seonmudo, Korean Buddhist martial art. (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Experts demonstrate at one of the morning practice session of Seonmudo, Korean Buddhist martial art. (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Located in North Chungcheong Province, the Godowon Healing Center’s two-day program gives visitors a taste of what it is like to be away from noise, light and air pollution. Wi-Fi use is not allowed at night, and alcoholic beverages and cigarettes are unwelcome.

Early in the morning, visitors practice Seonmudo, a Korean Buddhist martial art, followed by an aroma-Zen workshop where you can experience different scents to awaken your five senses. Deep vibrations echo like peaceful music during the standing bell meditation session in the afternoon. For those with children, Lincoln Camp, an academy located inside the center, accepts students throughout the year and offers book camps, speech camps and meditation camps.


Jwagusan Recreational Land
Meditation Suspension Bridge of Jwagusan (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Meditation Suspension Bridge of Jwagusan (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
A flower tea brewing session at Jwagusan Recreational Land (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
A flower tea brewing session at Jwagusan Recreational Land (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
At Jwagusan Recreational Land in North Chungcheong Province, brewing blooming flower tea is a must-do-experience. Patience is needed to enjoy the whole process -- from picking the flower petals and placing them in the right direction one by one to watching the flower slowly bloom in the cup. After the tea is brewed, you step into a footbath, slowly sipping the tea as your feet soak. Walking the 230-meter suspension bridge, visitors are forced to take careful, deliberate steps, taking time to perhaps reminisce on the past. 


Museum SAN 
Entrance to Museum SAN (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Entrance to Museum SAN (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
The interior of Museum SAN’s mediation hall (Museum SAN)
The interior of Museum SAN’s mediation hall (Museum SAN)
Museum SAN in Gangwon Province has a meditation hall designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando and built in 2019. Ando designed it as a gift to express his appreciation for maintaining the architecture of the museum, which he also designed, and its beautiful surroundings.

The meditation hall is located near the stone garden, a place where most visitors drop by after viewing the exhibitions to chat and contemplate the art.

A 40-minute meditation session offers audio guidance recorded on-site by a professional yoga instructor. Visitors might doze off, due to its serene and relaxed mood, with a thin layer of natural sunlight penetrating the dome-shaped hall. Most visitors are novices, and any kind of meditation is encouraged as long as visitors do not interrupt others’ flow.


Anduk Healing Experience Center 
The healing cave located within Anduk Village (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
The healing cave located within Anduk Village (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Anduk Healing Experience Center's Asian medicine program facility (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Anduk Healing Experience Center's Asian medicine program facility (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Located on the southern side of Moaksan in North Jeolla Province, Anduk Village offers an all-in-one program featuring Asian medicine, a red clay sauna and accommodations. The center’s restaurant offers a choice of a vegetarian buffet or Korean spicy chicken stew. The red clay sauna can be uncomfortable for those who are not at ease in small spaces.

The center is 30 minutes away by bus from Jeonju Hanok Village and the Theme Museum of Korean Liquor.

More information on wellness travel destinations can be found on the KTO’s website at www.visitkorea.or.kr.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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