Did you know that a small republic within Korea does exist? Located about 63 km north-east of Seoul in Gangwon-do, a small island with the name Naminara Republic can be found. Another, more common term used by its tourists is Nami Island or Namiseom. The island received its name in honor of General Nami from the Joseon Dynasty whose tomb can be visited there too. At the beginning of the development of Naminara Republic, people started to plant plants and flowers all over the island which created a beautiful and peaceful environment. Besides its nature, Namiseom also offers the Fairy Tale Village and Song Village. Even a hotel was built on it, so that tourists can enjoy their stay even longer. The island’s charm was also recognized by people of the film industry. The movie “Wanderer in Winter” from 1986, and the popular drama “Winter Sonata” from 2003 was shot on Namiseom.
Nami Island can be reached by car, subway or direct shuttle bus from Insa-dong or Namdaemun. If you decide to visit the island by subway, you have to get off at Gapyeong Station and take the shuttle bus (around 20 minutes) to the Republic’s “visa ticket booth”. In order to enter you need to have a valid visa, but no worries, you can directly obtain the visa at the ticket booth before entering the Republic. The visa fees are as followed:
Regular: 10,000 Won
Discount: 8,000 Won (for foreigners – bring your ID card or passport)
Special: 4,000 Won (Visitor aged between 3 and 13; Visitors after 18:00 (Dec.~Mar.); Visitors after 19:00 (Apr.~Nov.))
(status as of 2017)
You got a valid visa? Great, so now you only need to cross the water. Therefore you have two options: by ferry or by zip-wire. Yes, zip-wire! Paying a bit more (37,000 Won *2017) you are able to enter the Island from above! The ferry starts operating at 07:30 and goes back and forth in short intervals. You can enjoy your stay until the last ferry runs at 21:40.
From my experience you can manage to discover the whole island in one day. If you arrive before noon you will be able to visit various exhibitions, galleries, theme gardens, and even participate in activities like glass workshop or handicraft.
For more information about Nami Island visit their official website, which is also available in English: namisum.com.