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Seoul Sports and Activities

The Republic of Korea has considerable experience in hosting major international sporting events, notably the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Sports facilities are therefore generally of a high standard, particularly in Seoul and in the larger cities. Korea is now set to feature highly on the international sports agenda again when it will be co-hosting the 2002 Football World Cup together with Japan - the first time this major sporting event will take place in an Asian country. (See editorial at the front of the book for more details).

Watersports:

Visitors will find plenty of facilities for watersports along the southern coast and islands. The best time is from June to November, but swimming, paragliding and white-water rafting are possible all year round. There are numerous scuba diving centres along the coast, with diving classes, equipment rental and air tanks all provided. Cheju-do Island (1 hour by plane from Seoul) is the most popular destination for scuba diving enthusiasts; the waters surrounding the island are also considered exceptionally good for deep-sea fishing and a number of hotels and companies offer organised fishing trips. Standard facilities for windsurfing, waterskiing and boating are widely available in all coastal resorts. (For further details on the most important beach resorts, see the Resorts & Excursions section). Following a massive clean-up during the 1980s, Seouls Han-gang River now provides a range of watersports facilities and is a popular destination for those wishing to escape a busy city life.

Golf:

There are more than 80 golf courses in Korea, the best ones located near Seoul, Kyongju and Chejudo. Many of them can be reached within an hour by car. Facilities for accommodation and other sports (such as swimming pools) are often also integrated within the golf complex. Reservations (which should be made at least one week in advance) can be made directly to the golf course or through a travel agent. Players should note that personal golf clubs must be declared to customs officials upon entering the country. For details of membership and fees, contact the Korea National Tourism Board (see address section).

Skiing:

There are 13 ski resorts all within 4-5 hours of Seoul. The principal ones are the Yongpyong Ski Resort (Dragon Valley International Ski Resort) at Tackwallyong Area and Chonmasan Ski Resort near Seoul.

Taekwondo: This is the main martial art practised in Korea. The traditional Korean sport Ssirum (Korean wrestling), is similar to Sumo wrestling and is a big spectator sport in Korea.

Festivals:

Koreas rich cultural, historic and religious heritage is celebrated throughout the year in a myriad of festivals, some in honour of religious figures (such as Buddhas birthday), others focusing on nature (eg the changing seasons). For dates of festivals and special events, see the Public Holidays and Social Profile sections. A full and detailed list can be obtained from the Korea National Tourism Organisation (see address section). The KNTO also organises a variety of theme tours, focusing on history, religion, shopping and crafts as well as nature and health.

Historical and cultural tours:

A variety of these are available, with particular focus on Koreas Buddhist heritage. The country has over 10,000 temples and 20,000 monks. Given the increasing worldwide interest in Buddhism, Korean monks are now opening their temples and monasteries to tourists. Ceremonies, traditional dining rituals and tea parties are organised to cater for spiritual tourism, while more dedicated seekers can enrol in Buddhist retreats to practise silence, meditation and prayer for periods lasting anything from three weeks to several year