Ever wished you could experience a luxury cruise without the motion sickness? Step aboard the Sun Cruise Hotel, A Korean tourist attraction designed and built to emulate cruising for the sea sick.Seen from afar, the Sun Cruise Hotel looks like a ship washed up on top of a cliff by a giant wave, but the colossal structure was actually built there in 2002 for tourists who didn’t have the funds or time to go on a real cruise. But its bizarre location is pretty much the only thing that sets it apart from other cruise ships. The 65-metre-long, 45-meter-high and 30,000-ton-heavy land vessel features 211 rooms, both condominium and hotel style, a Western and a Korean restaurant, revolving sky lounge, a night club, a karaoke, a sea water pool, volleyball court, fitness club and even a netted golf range. To make its visitors really feel like they’re on a cruise, bird calls and the sound of waves crashing against the deck are played over loudspeakers strategically installed around the ship. Believe it or not, the Sun Cruise Hotel is one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Korea.
When the South Korean Army announces its biannual boot camp for civilians above the age of 13, there are lots of people who are more than happy to attend. Held at the command base in western Seoul, the 4 to 14 day camp offers basic military training to anyone able to pay the entry fee of 40,000 won (that’s about $36). Teenage boys and young women are seen attending the camp, sometimes along with their families. This doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, given that military culture is quite deeply ingrained in South Korea, a country ruled by army-backed regimes till the mid 1980s.
Apart from the ones run by the army, there are privately-run boot camps as well, which have become quite popular in recent times. People from various walks of life, ranging from school kids to nostalgic war veterans, company employees to families on vacation attend this kind of events. The army says the boot camp is an opportunity to test your limits, enhance your physical ability and learn to adopt the strong spirit of ‘making the impossible, possible.’ Major Lee Joo-Ho, a boot camp spokesperson says: “Boys obviously make up the biggest part because they have the mandatory service coming up.” What he’s referring to is the two years of mandatory conscription that all able-bodied South Korean men have to attend, in order to train themselves in case of an attack from North Korea. “But more young women are showing an interest, since they were allowed to join a college-based officer commissioning program last year.”
We’ve seen our share of bizarre theme parks here on OC. Ranging from Hello Kitty to Atomic Reactors, we thought we’d seen it all. Until we heard of this extremely strange and slightly disturbing theme park in South Korea, based on the last place in the world you’d want to be stuck in – the toilet.
The Restroom Cultural Park, in the city of Suwon, South Korea, is a massive complex dedicated to the humble toilet. The main exhibition hall itself is shaped like a large toilet bowl and the pathway leading up to it is adorned with bronze figures of humans in mid-squat. The facility was opened to public earlier this year and is the only one of its kind in the world. Other indoor exhibits include WC signs from around the world and toilet-themed art. What’s even more interesting than the toilet theme park is the story of its origin. Apparently, the place was initially home to the former Mayor of Suwon, Sim Jae-duck. He died in 2009, but that has not stopped the South Koreans from still regarding him as their very own ‘Mr. Toilet’. This was partly due to the fact that he ran a successful campaign in the 1980s to dramatically improve South Korea’s old toilet system, and also because Mr. Sim was born in his grandmother’s loo. So inspired was he by his place of birth that he built his own house in the shape of a toilet. He, in turn, is said to be the main inspiration behind the theme park.
Planting a kiss on Mona Lisa’s cheek, riding the legendary Pegasus and even getting peed on by a baby, it’s all possible at one of South Korea’s Trick Eye Museums.
I’ve never been to Korea, but apparently people there, like the Japanese, love to take photos of themselves with cool stuff, so it’s no wonder they’ve created a bunch of tourist attractions where people can immortalize themselves doing the craziest things. They’re called “trick eye museums” and feature various well-executed trompe l’oeil (French for “deceive the eye) artworks that either look like they’re coming out of the frame, or that you’re stepping in. If you manage to get a shot from the right angle, you can get some really cool photos of yourself interacting with the paintings. Judging by the photos I’ve found, these places are lots of fun.
There’s a place in South Korea where you can relax by bonding with about twenty dogs of different breeds and sizes, all vying for human attention. It’s called the Dog Cafe and it’s awesome!
If you haven’t yet heard about Japan’s famous cat cafes, they’re venues where stressed businessmen go to relax by surrounding themselves with dozens of purring felines. Cats are very popular in the Land of the Rising Sun, but the concept has been adopted by other Asian countries and recently, even Austria. But animal lovers in the South Korean city of Busan decided to take a different approach and opened a dog cafe, where visitors can surround themselves with furry canines who love human attention. According to Jürgen and Mike, from for91Days.com, Busan is a busy place, with tiny apartments where owning a dog can be considered a luxury, so a place like the Dog Cafe was just what the city needed.
As a result of changes in traditional South Korean beliefs, more and more people are choosing to have their cremated loved-ones’ ashes turned into decorative beads they can keep around.
10 years ago, 6 out of 10 Koreans who died were buried, according to Confucian beliefs to respect the dead and visit their graves. But, due in part to western influence, but also to a strong government campaign to convince people to switch to cremation, Korean culture changed drastically. In a small, densely populated country like South Korea, space is very important, so in 2000, the country’s government initiated an aggressive pro-cremation campaign that included pamphlets, radio broadcasts and press statements, This culminated with a law passed in 2000, requiring anyone who chose to bury their dead, to remove the grave after 60 years. Largely as a result of these facts, only 3 out of 10 Koreans were buried last year.
Rhiannon Brooksbank-Jones, a young student from Nottingham, England, underwent surgery to have her tongue lengthened after her dentist suggested it might be the reason she couldn’t pronounce certain Korean sounds.
Although she’s never been to South Korea, Rhiannon is really passionate about the language and culture of the Asian country, and dreams of living and working there later in her life. Her fascination with everything Korean started a few years back, after she listened to Korean pop and watched some television shows at a friend’s house. Pretty soon, all her free time was taken up by anything related to Korea, and she even began attending a Korean church in Nottingham.
Doctors recommend women remove their make-up every night before they go to sleep, in order to prevent damage to their skin, but a young South-Korean girl chose to wear her make-up mask full-time, for the last two years.
20-year-old Bae Dal-mi first discovered make-up when she was just 14. You could say it was love at first brush, and ever since then, the young Koream developed her make-up talents to the point where she became so dependent on it that she didn’t want to remove it anymore. As she kept applying ever-thicker layers of make-up on her face, the mirror became the most important item in Bae’s life and she declares “I wanted to look perfect at all time, I even slept with the make-up on.” Shae wasn’t satisfied with her appearance, and said she wanted to have plastic surgery in 10 different places.
For the last two years, the young girl never used make-up removers, so her mother, exasperated by Bae’s behaviour, contacted a TV station and told them Bae’s incredible story. During a variety show, dermatologists managed to convince Bae Dal-mi to finally remove the layers of make-up, and after a specialized check-up they found her skin was two times older than her actual age. All because of an obsession with beauty…
Every year, South Korean special-forces undergo serious winter training to strengthen their minds and bodies and to make sure the cold doesn’t affect them on live missions.
More than 200 rangers take part in the grueling winter training session, in Pyeonghang, 180 km east of Seoul. They do gymnastics, swim in icy water, hurl snow at their bare chests, build snow shelters and sprint, all at temperatures of under -30 degrees Celsius. The extreme training lasts for nine days.