The Korea Herald


[Photo News] Isolated for centuries, Gangneung opens doors

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : Feb. 9, 2018 - 18:15

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Having a climate with cooler summers and milder winters, as well as refreshing coastal views with creamy sand and splashing blue ocean waves, the city of Gangneung remained isolated for centuries.

A 500 kilometer-long mountain range separates the coastal city from the nation’s major metropolitan cities, including Seoul.

Demarcating the Korean Peninsula and stretching from Wonsan in North Korea to Busan, the mountain range Taebaek made a mountain pass rising 832 meters above sea level -- Daegwallyeong -- the easiest path to traverse from Korea’s capital to Gangneung, the largest coastal city east of the range. 

Now known as a tourist attraction in summers, Gangneung -- a 1,040 square kilometer wide city home to over 210,000 people -- will embrace the largest number of visitors to its shores during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

Until recently, to get from Seoul to Gangneung, some 170 kilometers east of the capital, a traveler needed a six-hour trip by train, detouring around the range. 

A new line for the KTX bullet train directly connecting Gangneung with Seoul began in December, decreased the travel time to about one-third.

The railway for the high-speed train has indeed opened its doors to athletes and spectators for the Winter Games. Gangneung houses sporting venues for competitions in ice hockey, speed skating, figure skating, short track speed skating and curling. 

Gangneung Oval, a venue for speed skating, has become the largest pillarless structure in Korea.

All the venues are put together in the Gangneung Coastal Cluster.

For a closer experience of the Games, it takes just a quick five-minute ride northeast of the cluster.

There sits a complex to promote the Olympics, featuring a four-dimension space giving the visitor a glimpse of what it is like to compete in the events. Goggle-clad visitors can experience the thrill of high-speed ski jumps, bobsleigh or snowboarding.

Photos by Park Hyun-koo (
Written by Son Ji-hyoung (