South Korea, an East Asian nation on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, shares one of the world’s most heavily militarized borders with North Korea. It’s equally known for its green, hilly countryside dotted with cherry trees and centuries-old Buddhist temples, plus its coastal fishing villages, sub-tropical islands and high-tech cities such as Seoul, the capital. The Chungcheong provinces at the centre of the country are bypassed by many travellers, but this is a shame, as they contain some fine sights. The old Baekje capitals of Gongju and Buyeo provide glimpses of a dynasty long dead, Daecheon beach hosts a rumbustious annual mud festival that may well be Korea’s most enjoyable event, and there are temples galore including the gigantic golden Buddha at Beopjusa, surrounded by 1000m-high peaks.
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