Q: I’m headed over to South Korea for the World Cup and would love to work in some whitewater rafting while I’m there. The rivers should be runnable, as it appears to be the rainy season. Any recommendations? Thanks,
— Brock Kwiatkowsky, Tewksbury, Massachusetts
A: It’s still pretty early in the rafting season, but one good rain is all it’ll take to bring some Class IVs out of hibernation. The Naerinchon and Baekdamsa hold the most promise. Both are doable as day trips from most of the country’s World Cup venues. If the water level is high enough, you could feasibly spend two full days paddling through remote valleys, worlds away from the stadium mayhem. Korean Leisure Event Association (02-522-5677) can put you in touch with outfitters.
But don’t let the rivers be your only respite. Nature is something of a national obsession here—there are 20 national parks and at least as many regional parks in a space about the size of Mississippi. The best of the bunch is Seoraksan National Park, where inland trails lead to waterfalls that spill down granite crags, and footpaths parallel the beach. Since it’s so easily accessible (there’s a bus route straight from Seoul), it tends to draw the crowds. But if you walk more than a few miles from the main entry points, you’re bound to happen upon a temple or a hot spring with no one in it. Go to www.npa.or.kr/eng/main.htm for park info, as well as a primer on the draconian recreation laws (i.e. hiking after dark can lead to jail time).