Muju was never in my bucket list until I became part of the 28th International Youth Forum (IYF) in Korea. Some participants from the 27th IYF even reapplied to the 28th IYF because some days of the event are held in this place. I would love to reapply to the 29th IYF just to see Muju and revive all the beautiful memories that I had.
The 5-hour bus trip from Seoul is worth the wait. Hopefully, the government can speed up the train project from Seoul to this peaceful place. Here are the 5 basic things you can do in Muju!
This is very far from work. The organisers gave us a lot of time to rest in order to draft this year’s youth declaration which will be submitted to the United Nations. We stayed in Doyak-gwan accommodations in Taekwondon which normally welcome 4 people per room. A friendly wrapping up of a fun day with a good night’s rest!
Note: You can definitely pack light as the Doyak-gwan accommodations have laundry areas. You can also connect with your family with their high-speed free Wifi (just in case you get tired of hibernating).
The IYF organisers provided us breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets. Foods were so delicious I had three plates every meal. In order to maintain my six-pack abs, I did some hiking with my international friends every morning.
We normally start the hike around 5 am. We wait for our friends in Inuijung Pavillion. Once complete, we cross over Cheongwon Bridge and Jeokwon Bridge to see Hoyeonjeong Pavilion (number 11 in below picture) which houses the natural beauty of a Korean traditional garden. Then, we get a glimpse of (12) Ohaeng Falls which reflect the spirit of Taekwondo through its harmonious current before proceeding to (13) Taekwon-jeon where you will definitely feel the alive spirit of Taekwondo. To pay respect to the grand masters of Taekwondo, we would also go to (14) Myeongin-gwan. On our way up to the (16) Observatory, we take a stroll first around (15) Myoungyegirim.
3.) Watch the sunrise
The observatory offers a panoramic view of the Taekwondon and Mt. Baekunsan. In the morning, it also offers one of the majestic sunrises. See!
Note: If you want to see this majestic sunrise, you really have to hike. Shuttle bus service around Taekwondon only starts at 10am.
4.) Do taekwondo moves with a taller friend
Taekwondon envisions to be the land of the world’s 80million Taekwondo people. As an international Taekwondo centre, it seeks for the promotion and development of Taekwondo. We had lucky strikes in their special gym (T1 arena) for almost three hours.
Note: Here is the birthplace of Taekwondon too. 9000 patriotic warriors during the ‘Three Countries of Korea Period’ has been stationed here for martial arts perfection.
5.) Meet friends in the annual international youth forum
I have already attended three youth forums but I consider the IYF in Muju as the best. I became friends with an Afghan, Algerian, Argentinian, Azerbaijani, Bangladeshi, Cambodian, Chinese, Egyptian, Georgian, German, Greek, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Malaysian, Moldovan, Moroccan, Dutch, Pakistani, Romanian, Russian, Singaporean, Spanish, Thai, British, American, Vietnamese, Zimbabwean, and Korean. The forum held in Muju is an international gathering for youth all over the world. It recognises the needs for a place where youth can come together and discuss global issues, bringing diverse perspectives together.
The theme for the 28th International Youth Forum is ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation through Youth Exchange’. It was hosted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Affairs and the Republic of Korea and organised by the National Council of Youth Organisations in Korea (NCYOK). NCYOK bears the expenses of accommodation, meals and local transportation during the program but travel, possible visa fees, and other miscellaneous expenses are to be paid by each participant. However, 600,000 Korean Won is provided to eligible participants who are not from Asia, and 300,000 Korean Won for eligible participants coming from Asia.
These were the 5 Basic Things I did in Muju. We had a busy week in the 28th IYF and did not have time to browse the brochures given to us. If only I had time, I could have checked the other places I could have visited. So here they are:
A. Gimhwantae Literary Museum/ Choi Buk Art Museum (Admission fee: Free, Tour duration 30minutes)
Gimhwantae Literary Museum commemorates Gim Hwan-tae who was the first literary critic in Korea and also a late member of Guinhoe (Association of the Nine People) Choi Buk Art Museum exhibits paintings of Choi Buk who was the master of true-view landscape painting in the late Joseon period (1700-1850).
(Admission fee: Free, Tour duration 60 minutes)
Mujuhyanggyo Confucian School, which was a local educational institution during Joseon period, offers various experiences such as ritual for Confucius (Seokjeondaeje), traditional wedding ceremony and traditional folk games as well as trying on the clothes of the Confucian scholars and writing family mottos.
(Admission fee: Free, Tour duration 40 minutes)
Joseon wangjo sillok (the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty) which is listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, had been kept here safely for about 300 years. The archives has been transformed into a history museum and is well received among visitors who want to learn about the history. It exhibits the duplicate copies of 34 volumes of Joseon wangjo sillok (27 volumes for each dynasty and 7 volumes for records on Muju) and 5 duplicate copies of Seonwonnok (Genealogy of the Royal Family).
D. Jeoksangsan Observatory
(Admission fee: Free, Tour duration 30 minutes)
The name of Jeoksangsan Mountain originates from its shape meaning “red skirt” (“Jeok” means red and “Sang” means a skirt). Jeoksangsan Observatory stands by Sanjeong Lake at an altitude of 860 meters of Jeoksangsan Mountain (1034m), commanding a whole view of the surrounding area. It is originally the surge tank of Muju Pumped Storage Power Plant, which was installed to adjust the pressure of the falling water in the process of generating electricity.
(Admission Fee: For ages 7 and up 2,000 KRW, Tour duration 30 minutes)
Wild Grape Wine Cave is a space to age, store and sell Wild Grape Wine, one of the local specialties of Muju. Entering deep into the cave about 270 meters will lead you to a cafe which offers Wild Grape Wine Tasting and Wild Grape Wine Foot Bath.
(Admission Fee: 14,000 KRW, Tour duration: 90 minutes)
The sightseeing gondola in Muju Deogyusan Resort located in Deogyusan National Park will bring you to Seolcheonbong Peak (1520m above sea level) under the top of Deogyusan Mountain. There is a rest area on Seolcheonbon Peak and if you walk further about 20minutes from here, you will get to Hyangjeokbong Peak (1614m sea level), the top of Deogyusan Mountain.
G. Rajetongmun Gate
(Admission Fee: Free, Tour duration: 20 minutes)
Rajetongmun Gate is the first out of 33 Scenic Views of Gucheondong Valley of Muju. Because it was located on the border between Silla and Baekje, its name derived from Silla (“Ra” from Silla, ra and la have same pronunciation in Korean) and Baekje (“Je” from Baekje). Mupung-myeon, which is located to the east of Rajetongmun Gate, belong to Silla in the past and the local residents speak the Gyeongsang-do dialect. On the other hand, Seolcheon-myeon, which is located to the west of Rajetongmun Gate, belonged to Baekje and the residents speak the dialect of Chungcheong-do and Jeolla-do.
(Admission Fee: Adult 5,000 KRW, Youth 3,000KRW, Children 2,000 KRW, Tour duration 60 minutes)
The architectural theme of Bandi Land is the life of a firefly from an egg to an imago emitting light. Bandi Land consists of the Insect Museum with a collection of rare insects, the Astronomical Observatory, the ecological restoration site of fireflies, the camping site, log houses, etc.
Log House (Bandi Land), House of Pouring Stars (Bandi Land), Youth Training Centre (Bandi Land), Muju Deogyusan Leisure Bike-Tel, Muju Deogyusan Resort, Muju Tovis Condominium, Ilsung Muju Condominium, Forest Recreation Centre/ Mapel Vill Hyu, Deogyusan Natural Recreation Forest, Muju Training Centre, Iris Motel, Jeil Mountain Vill, Dasup Pension, Seorin Tourist Pension, Pension Muju Neverland, H Hills Resort, Deokhwa Riverside Motel, L’aube Pension, Muju Skitel, Seolguk Pension and Pension Seolhwa.
Namdaecheon Sutbul Galbi, Dabok Hoegwan, Dokdo Tuna, Modeuniui House, Songjeong, Jinmi Orijeong, Cheonji Garden, Geumgangsan, Gucheondong Byeolmi Garden, Deogyusan Hanuga, Chilbong Hansikdang, Myeongga, Miga Hansik, Bakgane, Yechon Bongo, Wonhalmae Bossam Jeongsik, Wonjo Jeonju Matjip, Byeolmaru Garden, Deogyujeong, Banditbul Hanuchon.