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A special delegation of senior representatives of Korea Tourism organization will arrive in Israel in the next few days, to attend The International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM), opening February 5th, 2013 in Tel Aviv, in order to strengthen the ties between the two countries, and encourage tourist traffic

 

This year, Israel and Korea mark the 51st anniversary of the diplomatic relations between them. Founded in the same year, the two countries have much in common. Many Koreans identify with the history of the people of Israel, even so far as to mark The Crossing of the Red Sea, each year, on Jindo Island. Many South Korean families own a translated copy of the Talmud, and read stories from the Gmarah to their children, to enrich their knowledge. The Korean people have a lot of love for Israel, which is why so many Koreans come to visit Israel each year. The tourist traffic from Korea to Israel is the heaviest of all Asian countries (approx. 40 thousand Korean tourists visited Israel in 2012, as opposed to just over 12 thousand Israelis who visited Korea that same year). The two countries also enjoy fruitful trade relations.

 

At the IMTM, Korea will be presenting at a pavilion shared with Korean Airlines. In recent years, more and more western tourists have been discovering the charm of South Korea. Its capital, Seoul, is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, combining old and new, tradition and progress. It is home to breathtaking scenery, nature reserves, beaches, rivers, picturesque markers, exotic foods, a rich history and much more. In the spring, Korea is aglow with the delicate pink and white of the cherry blossoms. In the fall, the land is decorated with a spectacular carpet of red and gold. Color is an important part of traditional Korean culture, which embraces the values of harmony and balance.

 

The capital of South Korea, Seoul is an enormous metropolis, home to more than ten million people. Located in a natural basin surrounded by mountains and hills, and divided in two by the Han River, the city contains gigantic shopping centers, spas skyscrapers, palaces, markets and cultural landmarks, all worth visiting. Seoul’s most popular attraction is the remains of the most beautiful of the five palaces within its borders - Gyengbokgung. Built in 1395, to be used as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty, the complex sprawls over more than 500 thousand square meters filled with fascinating structures, luxurious gates, pools, courtyards, and traditionally uniformed guards.

 

Chosen as one of the Wonders of the World in 2011, the isle of Jeju is a volcanic island that has all one really needs: exotic views, amazingly beautiful gulfs, untouched, primal nature and, of course, the ocean. At its center lies Mount Halla, an inactive volcano, the highest mountain in South Korea. One of the country’s most important cultural treasures is hidden in the beautiful temple of Haeinsa. Stored at an elevation of over 1,400 meters are 81,258 wooden blocks, on which, 750 years ago, Buddha’s perception of the essence and purpose of life was engraved. The 241 kilometer long buffer zone between South and North Korea (parallel north 38) is also open for visitors. Another recommended site is the fortress of Hwaseong. Built between the years 1794 and 1796 and named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is one of the most impressive structures immortalizing the Korean legacy. Yet another must-see site is Hahoe Andong Village, the most well maintained folklore village in South Korea. There, visitors can witness the traditional Korean way of life, as it had been centuries ago.

 

The north eastern region of South Korea is another great place to visit, because of Seoraksan National Park, the country’s most beautiful and well known nature reserve. The park is clustered with high cliffs towering over forests, waterfalls, rivulets, temples and winding paths for travelers. In it, tourists can also find the largest stature of Buddha in South Korea, weighing 108 tons and towering at 14.6 meters. In winter time, the park transforms into a white, snow covered wonderland, and the region’s excellent ski resorts open for business. But the season when the part is most impressive is definitely fall, when the breathtaking red, orange and yellow leaves stand in complete contrast to the impressive grey cliffs.

 

Dadohae Sea Park is considered one of the most impressive places in all of South Korea. Surrounding 1,700 islands, its steep beaches and crystal clean air take one’s breath away. Another site that simply cannot be skipped is the city of Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Silla, where 1,500 year old structures are preserved. The city is full of attractions: ancient tombs, royal treasures, temples and more.

 

It is best to visit South Korea during transition seasons, namely, in the spring (April – May) or fall (September – October), when the weather is pleasant and the land is painted with the colors of blossoms or fallen leaves.

 

The harmonious flavors of the Korean kitchen are an important part of Korean culture, reflecting its character. Korean cooking is considered colorful, well seasoned, natural, vigorous and spicy. Rice, fish and vegetables are the main ingredients in Korean dishes. Among the culture’s more popular foods are Kimchi – fermented cabbage in red chili sauce, served as a side dish for each and every meal and considered Korea’s national food, and ginseng, to which many health benefits are attributed.

 

Korean ambassador to Israel, Kim IlSoo, has expressed great hope that the IMTM will allow the Israeli public and the tourism industry to deepen their knowledge of Korea and discover that it is not just a source of advanced mobile phones and high end cars, but a country with a rich culture that combines old and new, tradition and progress, alongside nature reserves, peaceful islands, exotic foods and a fascinating history.