The (Culturally) Independent Republic of Nami

Our first day in South Korea was spent on Nami Island, a tiny little island in the middle of the Han river, about 60 km north-east of Seoul. The place is hugely famous in Asia thanks to a very popular Korean TV drama “Winter Sonata” which was filmed there. (You should take a few minutes and watch that clip, if just for the girl’s reaction to the kiss. Priceless…) Of course neither one of us had ever heard of “Winter Sonata” and didn’t go to Nami to have our picture taken in the Lovers’ Woods or by the commemorative statue near the pond. Instead we came for Nambook 010, the Nami Island book festival. One of the major organizers of the festival is IBBY, the international board on books for young people, where Kurusa used to president. Ah, connections; they’re indispensable when traveling!

Nami is run like a toned down theme-park thanks to the TV connection but several years ago the CEO, Mr. Kang, has upped the ante and declared independence. Technically it’s just cultural independence but that doesn’t keep him from issuing passports, stamps and even phone cards for Nami Republic. There’s also a foreign minister (Suzannah Oh, a very blond American lady who will startle you with her perfect Korean).

Besides touring the filming hot-spots, you can also rent bikes and tricycles, eat lots of delicious food and read, read, read. There are books everywhere on Nami: on the toilettes, on benches by the roads, at the restaurant tables. I’m not sure if they were only placed there for Nambook but it seemed like a permanent fixture. Especially the little reading benches by the roads – they had little huts attached to them so the books wouldn’t get wet!

We had a great day not only because it’s a beautiful little spot (‘magical’ was the preferred adjective of the day) but we saw many friends and acquaintances and had a wonderful introduction to Korean hospitality. Now we’re ready to dive into the urban zoo that’s Seoul.

More photos in the gallery

One Response to “The (Culturally) Independent Republic of Nami”

  1. Liz says:

    Great photos and lovely memories of Nami Island and Seoul. Hope the trip continues to be good! Liz xx

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