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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Snow Sports in Korea; or how to enjoy the winter

A few years ago, if you wanted to hit the slopes in Korea, there were few options. Then skiing and snowboarding became a popular pastime for wintry weekends, and now there are seventeen resorts, mostly in the Seoul or Gangwando areas. Korea has become the winter ski destination for the emerging middle classes in China and South East Asia, as it’s far less expensive than a trip to Japan or Europe.

from the Tourism Korea website

Though Korean ski hills tend to be crowded (as is everything in this compact country), it is a great place to try skiing or snowboarding for the first time. The beginner slopes are quite gentle, packages of lift tickets and rentals can be inexpensive, and you can even rent snow clothes (except gloves, hats and scarves).

Here’s a summary of the ski options scattered around the peninsula.

In the southern part of the country:

The closest to Ulsan is Eden Valley, located on the Yangsan side of Mount Sinbulsan. This resort opened a few years ago, so has had some time to work out the kinks of newly established attractions. They have seven runs (2 beginner, 3 intermediate and 2 advanced) that vary from 454 m to almost a kilometer and a half, which isn’t bad for a mountain that’s only 1200 m above sea level. To be honest, about the only thing going for this ski hill is that it’s only about a 45 minute drive from town. (Korean only site: Eden Valley )

Muju

Muju Resort is about 3 hours away, in Deogyusan National Park. Muju once had the longest run in Korea, with the intermediate-level Silk Road that starts at the peak of Mt. Deogyu and winds it’s way down for 6.1km. There are 22 runs on the mountain, out of two bases; Manseon base, and Seolcheon base. Muju also has an outdoor hotspring where you can relax after a day on the slopes. Taehwa tours run bus packages to Muju, though you’ll need a Korean speaker to book a spot for you. The site is in Korean, too. (Taehwa Tour )

 

Sajo Resort is located in the Suanbo Hotspring complex, in Chungju. It is a small resort, with six slopes and three lifts. Apparently it is not very crowded, and since it’s in a hotspring complex, it’s pretty convenient to chill out in the hotsprings after skiing. Here’s the slope map (in Korean only): Sajo Resort

In Gwang-gi province, close to Seoul:

Some of High 1's intermediate and advanced runs

Bears Town Resort, about 50 minutes outside of Seoul has 11 slopes, for beginner to expert skiers, and a 400 meter long sledding hill. Check out their English site: Bearstown

Star Hill Resort is also very close to Seoul, as it’s only 32km from City Hall. Each of its six slopes has its own lift, which cuts down on the lift lines. Star Hill Resort (Korean only)

Konjiam Resort has 11 slopes, and boasts of being the largest in the Seoul area. They also limit the number of skiers to 7,000 per day, to help cut down on over-crowding. They also use the Radio Frequency ID card for their lift passes and rentals. Konjiam also seems to have a larger number of Intermediate level slopes than most other resorts. Check out their English site: KonJiam Resort

 

Jisan Forest Resort is a 40-minute drive from the Gangnam area of Seoul. It has seven slopes and five lifts, including one with heated seats, which will be nice if you take advantage of their “Midnight Ski” from midnight to 4am. JiSan Resort

Yangi Pine Resort has 10 slopes, including a mogul run. Also a 40-minute drive from the city, their “super-modern ski ground” has slopes for “seven-grade skills”, whatever that means. This resort has room to grow, and has several “planned slopes” for the future. When looking at the slope map, keep in mind that the Green Lift is for Advanced skiers… Pine Resort

Gangwando is home to nine of Korea’s 17 ski resorts  –

Alpensia Resort is home to the 2018 PyeongchangWinter Olympics, and is therefore growing significantly over the next few years. It currently has 6 slopes, including one that is exclusively for snowboarders, and a high speed lift system. Alpensia Resort

On a green run at Yongpyong, on a not-busy-at-all day.

Yongpyong Resort is one of the original ski hills in Korea, and has had the time to develop an excellent facility. They have 28 runs, 15 lifts, and a “larger than regulation-size” half pipe. Six of their runs are approved for international competitions, and they have hosted the World Cup Ski Championships and the Winter Asian Games in the past. They even have a 15km cross country trail. YongPyong Ski

 

Daemyung Vivaldi Park has 13 slopes and 10 lifts. Famous for being the first hill in Korea to offer night skiing, this resort is apparently quite popular with young adults, and the runs and lifts are named “hiphop” and “jazz” as a reflection of this. The website doesn’t offer much information, but it is in English! (Scroll down – the design is terrible) DaeMyung Resort

Phoenix Park is another venue for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, and will host the snowboarding and mogul skiing competitions. The Park has 22 slopes and an Extreme Park, with halfpipe, table top, round quarter and rails for any thrill seeking snowboarders out there. Twelve of the slopes meet International Competition standards, including the Aerial and Mogul runs. Phoenix Park

Sungwoo Resort is billed as Korea’s “snowboarding mecca”, as it has the largest snow park in the country, complete with a C box, an X box and a Wall box for board tricks. This is apparently the destination of choice for “hardcore” boarders, and meets the International Ski Federation (FIS) regulations for international competitions. HdSungWoo Ski

On a green run at High 1 on a semi-busy day

High 1 Resort claims the most natural snowfall in the country, and has been voted the most-preferred ski resort in Korea. The longest run is a gentle green run for beginners, which winds over 4km from the mountain top to the valley base. They are also home to FIS competition-approved expert slopes. They use Radio Frequency lift passes, meaning you can just stick it in your pocket, and it’s automatically scanned as you pass through the turnstiles. High 1 is also home to a para-ski school, and has hosted para-ski competitions. Taehwa tours and some other companies run bus packages from Ulsan to High 1, for about 100,000 won/day including lift and rental.  High 1 Ski Slope

 

 

Elysian Gangchon is about an hour outside of Seoul. The 10 slopes are all approximately a kilometer in length, and are serviced by six lifts. There’s also a snowboard park designed for beginner and intermediate riders. (Site is in Korean only) Elysian Ski

 

Oak Valley Snow Park boasts less crowding than other resorts, possibly because it is newer, and has yet to build a reputation. It has 9 slopes, with the majority being intermediate level. Oak Valley

At the top of a run at O2 Resort - last day of the season '09

O2 Resort is located in Taebaek Mountain Provincial Park, in the heart of the Baekdu mountain range, and is known as the first place the snow falls in the winter, and the last place it melts in the spring. It’s a small resort, with 12 slopes that mostly start all together at the top, split into different ability levels, and meet back together at the bottom. They have apparently also passed the FIS qualifications for international competition-level slopes. O2 Resort

 

Korea is not in the Alps, or the Rocky Mountains, but the ski hills here are well planned and maintained. While the facilities are high quality, the problems tend to be with your fellow skiers and boarders. As with Korean traffic, people here do not pay attention to what is going on around them, do not check up hill before merging onto the slope, and will often stop in the middle to take a rest (this mostly applies to boarders, but skiers aren’t immune to it). It’s also rather busy on the slopes most weekends. So to properly enjoy yourself, bring heaps of patience, and expect the unexpected. Or go midweek, if possible, when the crowds are in the cities. For more information on how to get to each resort, check out the Official Site of Korea Tourism, and Be Inspired : VisitKorea.or.kr

Enjoying a run at High 1

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