Nami Island

There is something about going out of the city that is refreshing. I somehow enjoyed the long subway ride from Seoul to Gapyeong as I observed how my surroundings changed from buildings to landscape. I saw colorful flowers starting to cover the mountainside and I got excited about how Nami Island, one of the many famous tourist spots in South Korea, would look like during early spring. After a brief tour in Petite France, I headed for Nami Island through the Gapyeong City Tour Bus (note that you should keep your ticket with you during your city tour because you will have to present it to the driver every time you ride the bus). From the bus stop, you will have to walk about five minutes to reach the ticket office where you will pay for the entry visa worth ₩8000 (inclusive of the discounted entrance fee for foreigners and the round trip ferry ride).

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Naminara Immigration
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Naminara Republic Entry Visa ₩8000

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Naminara walkway towards the dock

If you are feeling adventurous, you can ride a zip-wire going to Nami Island instead. It is faster compared to the ferry. Two of my new friends who I met during my first night in Seoul tried this and they enjoyed it. The zip-wire including the entrance fee costs ₩38000. During the time I went here, it was fully booked so I suggest you make a reservation ahead of time if you want to try this.

Zip-wire Tower
Zip-wire Tower

Nami Island was declared as a self-governing republic country in 2006 and thus is also known as Naminara Republic. If you are a fan of Korean TV dramas, you will most likely know by heart and soul, that this is the location of the ever famous Winter Sonata.

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Naminara Republic of Korea tile artwork near the entrance.
Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo of Winter Sonata
Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo of Winter Sonata

Once I set foot in this island, a lot of interesting things have caught my attention. There are recycled soju bottles piled up together to form a Christmas tree and wood planks  nailed together to serve as a wish board for all the visitors for the New Year 2015.

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Christmas tree made of soju bottles
Christmas tree made of soju bottles which have flags of different countries pasted on them. Saw a bottle with a Philippine flag too! :-)
Christmas tree made of soju bottles which have flags of different countries pasted on them. Saw a bottle with a Philippine flag too! :-)
Colorful ribbons with wishes for the New Year written on them were tied and piled up together.
Colorful ribbons with wishes for the New Year written on them were tied and piled up together.
Wooden planks at Naminara Republic
Wooden planks with wishes for the New Year written on them by the visitors of Nami Island.

There are also numerous stone and wood sculptures around the island. The mother and child statue below is gigantic, it is just across the statue of the Winter Sonata couple.

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Mother and child statue. Breastfeeding is still best for babies!
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Wood sculptures at Nami Island

There are flags hanging on the side of the lane and there is also a UNICEF hall and an eco stage. The pine trees are lined up with balloon-shaped lanterns and colorful flowers are everywhere. You will really feel every nation is welcome to enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer from this half-moon shaped island.

Nami Island and pine trees
Flags of different countries were hung onto the pine trees and balloon-shaped lanterns adorned the walkway.
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South Korea flag and Philippine flag.
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Balloon-shaped lanterns at the walkway near the entrance of Nami Island
Nami Island Pine Trees
Nami Island Pine Trees
Nami Island Eco Stage
In front of Nami Island Eco Stage, there are wooden planks with greetings from different nations. In the Philippines, we say “Kumusta ka?” which means “How are you?”
UNICEF Hall at Nami Island
UNICEF Hall at Nami Island
Flowers in Nami Island
Flower power at Nami Island
Flowers in Nami Island
Beautiful clusters of flowers formed into a heart shape

There are also restaurants, cafes, book store, souvenir shop, library, hotel, and galleries here.  They even have their own broadcasting station too. If you are tired from walking, you can also rent a bike to roam around the island.

Children's playground at Nami Island
Children’s playground at Nami Island
Restaurants and Cafe at Nami Island
Restaurants and Cafe at Nami Island
Food stalls and coffee shops in Nami Island
Food stalls and coffee shops at Nami Island
Nami Island Library
Nami Island Library
Nami Island Souvenir Shop
Nami Island Souvenir Shop
Naminara MBC Broadcasting Station
Naminara MBC Broadcasting Station
Rent a bike in Nami Island
Rent a bike at Nami Island

One of the advantages of going here late is there are fewer tourists so it is easier to take pictures of the famous filming sites of Winter Sonata such as the First Kiss Bridge and the Metasequoia Lane. I even took a lot of pictures with the Winter Sonata statue (I have read in some blogs that it does get really crowded because a lot of tourists would like to have their pictures taken with the Winter Sonata statue). The metasequoia trees were bare but their presence were still a sight to behold, they are so tall that it looks like they can really touch the sky. The sunset glow even made them more dramatic to look at.

First Kiss Bridge in Nami Island
First Kiss Bridge at Nami Island
Metasequoia Lane at Nami Island
Metasequoia Lane
Metasequoia Lane
Metasequoia Lane
Winter Sonata Statue in Nami Island
Statue of the main characters of the popular Korean TV drama, Winter Sonata.

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Another advantage of going here late is you will be able to experience and see the last glow of the sun before it sets. It is really beautiful and the place is so serene.

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Sunset at Nami Island
Sunset at Nami Island
Sunset at Nami Island
Sunset at Nami Island
Forsythia around Nami Island
Forsythia around Nami Island

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“When spring comes, Nami Island is covered in flowers. In summertime, the river winds blow through the shady woods. In autumn, the fallen leaves carpet the earth. While in winter, the island is transformed into a world of icicles and snow”

Nami Island is indeed beautiful and I want to go back here to see for myself how she changes with each season. I am just as grateful that I was able to see it during the daytime and before the night falls. I know I should be worried because I missed the last tour bus schedule and it is getting late and I still have a long way going back to Seoul alone but it was the least of my worries at that time. I just want to bask in the glow of sunset and absorb all the beauty around me.

I think God is looking after me (and my mother must have been praying sooo hard for my safety) because I met two new friends here who are not only pretty but also kind and generous. We went back to Seoul together and exchanged stories. Though our meeting was brief, I have learned a lot from them and will always be grateful for their company on this day. Meeting them made my first visit in Nami Island more memorable. Hope you will have a great experience in Nami Island too! ^_^

Address:  1024, Bukhangangbyeon-ro, Gapyeong-eup, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do (Naminara Republic Immigration Control Office) 경기도 가평군 가평읍 북한강변로 1024 (출입국관리사무소)

Operating Hours: Open all year round.

Ferry Schedule: 07:30-09:00 (30-minute intervals)  |  09:00-18:00 (10-20-minute intervals)  |  18:00-21:40 (30-minute intervals)

Admission Fees: General (Adults) – 10,000 won  |  Discount – 8,000 won  |  Children  – 4,000 won

Directions: From Gapyeong Bus Terminal or Gapyeong Station, take a taxi to Namiseom parking lot or Gapyeong City Tour Bus (travel time: 5 minutes). Take the ferry from Namiseom Dock to Namiseom Island (travel time: 5-6 min).

How I got from Myeongdong in Seoul to Gapyeong Station by subway, find out here.

You may visit the following links for more details:

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr

http://namisum.com/

https://www.facebook.com/namisum

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