Take a break and put self in Gangwon
A natural view seen from Healience Seonmaeul in Hongcheon County, Gangwon. The resort and village markets itself as place to go on a digital detox because there is no cellular service available. [HEALIENCE SEONMAEUL]
Taking time out of one’s busy daily routine to focus on self-care and relaxation isn’t always easy. But with this Saturday being Global Wellness Day, there’s no better opportunity to focus on your well-being. Instead of choosing to stay at home in front of the TV, the Korea Tourism Organization is encouraging people to get outside and take an active approach to rejuvenation. A number of resorts, hotels and spa centers across the country that provide workouts, meditation and massage programs to Seoulites and international travelers help make the country a “wellness destination.”
Eight spots nationwide, including Seoul’s Tea Therapy and Vista Walkerhill Wellness Club and Gangwon’s Park Roche Resort and Wellness, are offering free classes tomorrow in the hopes of fulfilling Global Wellness Day’s slogan, “One day can change your whole life.”
From top: Resting areas at Healience Seonmaeul in Gangwon where overnight guests can sit down and relax. Park Roche Wellness and Resort in Jeongseon County, Gangwon, offers a variety of wellness programs including mediation, yoga and others. Different workout programs are provided at Vista Walkerhill in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, including the Sling, designed to help those with neck or back pain. [LEE SUN-MIN, VISTA WALKERHILL, PARK ROCHE]
Listen to the birdsLeave your cell phone behind for a day or two when you make your way to Healience Seonmaeul in Hongcheon County, Gangwon. Cellular service is not available at the resort, nor do any of the rooms have TVs, giving visitors the opportunity to spend time to themselves. Instead, there are many trails available around the village. The library has piles of books to choose from, and the spa house offers time to relax in warm water. Seminars are offered to allow visitors the chance to learn how to better take care of yourself from experts, as well as guided tours of the forest. The village also occasionally hosts movie nights, while on other nights guests go out and lie down on the grass to look up at countless stars. The resort offers visitors the chance to get back to nature without any inconvenience. The rooms are equipped with beds, and some offer balconies with chairs so guests can appreciate the view. Fortunately, the rooms are also equipped with air conditioning to use when it gets too hot in the summer. Thanks to such facilities, many companies host workshops here, providing their employees a chance to do a digital detox, and the employees tend to come back with their families and friends, an official at the village said. Many recovering cancer patients or others trying to get back on their feet come to the village often as well. Some frequent visitors have come to the village regularly for the past 10 years, while some others come for a long-term stay. An overnight stay for two adults starts at 272,500 won ($290). There is a 5,000 won shuttle bus to the resort leaving from southern Seoul’s Jamsil Station, subway line No. 2, everyday at 11 a.m. to make it easier for those coming from Seoul. It takes about one hour to one and a half hours depending on traffic to get to the resort. For more information, go to www.healience.co.kr or call 1588-9983.Uniquely Korean Taking its name from medical books written by famous doctor Heo Jun (1539-1615) from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), South Gyeongsang’s Sancheong County put together the Donguibogam Village to make the town the place to visit to learn about the benefits of Korean medicine. The village houses not only herbal medicine museums but also herbal forests, shops, experience centers and some private oriental medicine doctors’ offices. The village is located along the hillside, providing a good view of the county below. Coffee shops and restaurants along the way will help keep visitors hydrated, and spa centers will keep them energized and relaxed. While the entire village is filled with wild plants that can also be used as medicine, there is also a greenhouse where one can get an up-close look at the plants that are each labeled so visitors can learn about them. Donguibogam Village is more than just a place filled with hanok (traditional Korean houses). To help people get more engaged in the world of herbal medicine, there are many different products available as well. One can try making a chewy ball called Gongjindan, normally made with musk deer antler. Due to its high price, the program instead uses mokhyang, roots of green plants that are known to have similar effects to the musk deer antlers in helping strengthen one’s immune system. The village also provides visitors the chance to take a bath along with a variety of herbs. One hanok is equipped with an individual bath, a shower room, closet space and a mirror, and allows for up to four people to use the facility together. If you wear a swimsuit in the tub and are okay with the door open, you can sit in the warm water and enjoy the view of other hanok buildings, mountains and the blue sky. An overnight stay at a hanok is also possible. Other hotels, guest houses or camping spots are also available. The town is getting more popular among people visiting from overseas, especially from Vietnam, thanks to Vietnamese national football team coach Park Hang-seo, who is from the county. To avoid running into visitors in big groups, it is recommended to visit in the morning, before lunch time, especially on Monday or Tuesday. For more information, go to donguibogam-village.sancheong.go.kr or call (055) 970-6602. Spa 1899 Donginbi, run by the Korea Ginseng Corporation, which is known for its CheongKwanJang red ginseng products, is another spot to visit for those looking to use Korean products. Its location in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, is packed with visiting foreigners throughout the year, and one in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul, says about 80 percent of its customers come from overseas. Many of them are returning customers. Different facial or body spa programs are available from 121,000 won an hour, and red ginseng cosmetic products are also available for a purchase. For more information, go to www.spa1899.co.kr or call (02) 755-8031 for the Myeong-dong branch, (02) 557-8030 for the Daechi-dong branch, and (051) 747-8036 for the Haeundae branch in Busan. Sulwhasoo, one of the better known Korean cosmetic brands, offers spa programs at its flagship store in Gangnam District, southern Seoul. Prior to making a reservation, one can request to have a guided tour to learn more about the brand and the products for about 30 minutes.
For more information go to www.sulwhasoo.com or call (02) 541-9270.
Far left: The Sulwhasoo flagship store in Gangnam District, southern Seoul. Middle: Visitors to Donguibogam Village make gongjindan, a ball-shaped medicine made with local ingredients. [JOONGANG PHOTO, DONGUIBOGAM VILLAGE, LEE SUN-MIN]
New forms of relaxationA chance to have absolute serenity for a few days away from the city can be found at Park Roche Resort and Wellness in Jeongseon County, Gangwon. The resort is just over a year old and is a place where visitors can enjoy different workout or meditation classes throughout their stay. Group lessons include aqua fitness, yoga, pilates or meditation and they allow overnight guests to forget about what’s happening outside of the resort. In between classes, guests can spend time at a library filled with books on self-care, fitness, food and more. It also has an outdoor jacuzzi that is open until 10 p.m. every day. There’s no need to worry about being in a crowded library, especially when you visit on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. The resort, which doesn’t have many children-friendly facilities has been sought after by families and friends looking to take a break from being with their kids. Closer for many Seoulites is the Vista Walkerhill Hotel in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul. Its Wellness Club has prepared workout programs using machines that allows guests to use their muscles while doing low-impact exercises. Hypoxi, Sling and Winback are some of the machine exercise equipment the hotel uses to make the short workouts effective. The Sling was designed to help rehabilitate injured soldiers after the World War II and is now often used to help those with back or neck pain to workout comfortably. To help visitors change their unhealthy habits, an in-house nutritionist offers consultations on how to set up a dietary plan. A one-day package starts at 380,000 won. For more information about the available programs, go to www.walkerhill.com or call (02) 2022-0450.
BY LEE SUN-MIN [email@example.com]