By: Chico Harlan – The Washington Post
July 28, 2015
South Koreans are weekend warriors. The sport of choice? Hiking. Mountains are everywhere, and most can be climbed in a day. You need only the following prerequisites: a love of nature, multi-course meals packed into Tupperware, several bottles of rice wine and high-end gear.
Hiking has long been a South Korean pastime, but it has become more like a national identity. In a typical month, about 1 in 3 Koreans goes hiking more than once. The mountainous national park north of Seoul attracts more visitors annually than the Grand Canyon.
Part of this passion can be explained by geography. The country is a topographical eggshell mattress, covered with hundreds of steep, climbable peaks.
But it’s the rituals surrounding Korean hiking that define mountain culture here. The pace is brisk, and at the top, big groups spread out on blankets and devour elaborate spreads. They also drink rice wine — sometimes lots of it. Amazingly, the hike down is also brisk.
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