NewsCO.com.au–Winter Olympics: Gangneung showcases mix of old and new to put city on the map

February 15, 2018

Walking around the coastal city of Gangneung, host to the ice-based sports events, the streets are full of colour and tradition.

The city’s location makes it unique – situated in the only province divided by North and South Korea.

It’s also home to the cultural Olympiad, introducing Korean stories and artistic value to the world.

Gangneung is a popular tourist destination for South Koreans in the summer.

Gangneung is a popular tourist destination for South Koreans in the summer.

SBS News

Over the past week, Gangneung has been under the spotlight as it welcomed the North Korean delegation including Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-Jong.

Kim Yo-Jong watched the first unified Korean ice hockey game on Saturday before attending a performance on Sunday by the North Korean arts troupe, led by star singer Hyun Song Wol.

The North Koreans have also put on a Taekwondo display for tourists in Gangneung.

The infamous North Korean cheering squad have also been turning heads.

Street food markets bring the city alive.

Street food markets bring the city alive.

SBS News

But for tourists looking for a culinary treat, hundreds of food stalls and markets have been set up to show off local Korean food with kimchi and buckwheat pancakes proving a popular choice.

Street market cook, Jeon Bok Yeum says it’s all about getting the flavours right when making buckwheat pancakes, called ‘Me Mil Jeon’ in Korean.

“The main ingredients are buckwheat flour, kimchi and chives,” said Ms Jeon.

American tourist Megan Doyle says she can’t get enough of the pancakes.

“This buckwheat pancake actually. I didn’t want to try it. I was like ‘it probably isn’t very good’ and she gave me a free sample and now I’ve had it two days in a row. So glad I tried it,” said Ms Doyle.

Street market cook Jeon Bok Yeum making her infamous buckwheat pancakes.

Street market cook Jeon Bok Yeum making her infamous buckwheat pancakes.

SBS News

Another American tourist Sarah Janczek says she’s been surprised by the range of food on offer.

“The flavour has been really good. I’ve been surprised by some of their simple dishes. They’ve been very flavourful,” said Ms Janczek.

Gangneung is a popular tourist destination for South Koreans in the summer but with one million tourists visiting from around the world just this month, it’s had to diversify.

The Gangneung City Mayor, Choi Myeong-hee says each day there are 55 different arts events on offer.

He really hopes the Winter Olympics will change the face of the area in the future.

Gangneung's City Mayor, Choi Myeong-hee.

Gangneung’s City Mayor, Choi Myeong-hee.

SBS News

“Gangneung may not be known internationally but through these Olympics we have set the platform to become an international travel destination,” said Mr Choi.

Gangneung is one of the oldest cities in Korea dating back more than 2,000 years.

Organisers say they have tried to showcase this history by blending old traditions with modern day trends.

Tourists can take part in Dado, a traditional Korean tea ceremony that has been practised for over a thousand years.

Gangneung's culture on show.

Gangneung’s culture on show.

SBS News

Ceremony instructor Kim JeomYe says it’s now being revived as a way to find relaxation and healing in a fast-paced modern society.

“First you check the colour, then you smell the scent, then you taste by sipping once and swallowing 3 times,” said Ms Kim.

A range of music and arts performances will be on offer for the duration of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

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