Located just a stone’s throw from the Korean Demilitarised Zone, Hwacheon sprawls across South Korea’s Gangwon Province. Its mountainous terrain is dotted with small farming villages and military training grounds and traversed by rivers that provide habitat for trout and otters.
Things to do in Hwacheon
In the north-east of Hwacheon is the Peace Dam, which was completed in 2005 to prevent flooding if North Korea’s Imnam Dam collapsed. Expanding across more than 600 metres, this immense structure can hold back up to 2.6 billion tons of water. A surrealist painting in the middle of the dam wall appears as though the river is flowing through as a symbol of hope for the reunification of South and North Korea.
Perched atop Mount Gwangdeok is the Hwacheon Cho Gyeongcheol Observatory, which is named after one of South Korea's most well-known space scientists. It regularly hosts stargazing evenings and astronomical-themed shows and houses an exhibition room about the life and work of Dr. Cho Gyeongcheol. Experienced guides are on hand to help you identify planets and constellations through the observatory’s telescopes.
Occupying a striking contemporary building that seemingly disappears into the surrounding landscape is the Oisoo Gallery, which houses a huge collection of works by author Lee Oisoo. It features an asymmetrical courtyard and a circular path that connects a small theatre with the gallery’s exhibition spaces. Learn about Oisoo’s eccentric life and his influential novels, as well as his popularity on social media as “Twitter's Korean president.”
Getting around Hwacheon
Hwacheon is around 30 minutes by train from Chuncheon and two hours from Seoul. Incheon International Airport is 3.5 hours away by train and has flights to destinations across the globe. Buses travel throughout Hwacheon County and connect many of its attractions.