Naminara Republic on Nami Island (Travel notes)
Did you know that there is a state inside South Korea, called Naminara Republic? I never knew that before last Sunday, when I was taken to that place called Nami Island, 50 minutes North-East from Seoul. Well, it is practically not a state, but rather an amusement park, which builds its image around the romantic atmosphere of green forests, rocky river banks and harmony with nature. If you want to have a one-day trip to the beautiful place not far from Seoul, then Nami island would be a perfect choice. Situated on the Northern inflow of Han river, 4 kilometers in diameter, this island has astonishing landscapes and multitude of entertaining activities (especially for couples, as it recalls the images of honeymoon representiation from romantic comedy Just Go With It).
General information about Nami Iisland and Naminara Republic
Nami is one of the several islands on Han River. It was inundated by the rising water of the North Han River as the result of the construction of Cheongpyeong Dam (청평댐) in 1944 and is currently privately owned. There is, however, a micro self-declared Naminara nation on the island since 2006, that’s why you’re required to have “visa” issued by Naminara in order to enter the island. It has invented its own passport, currency, telephone card and stamps, so you can send a postcard from Naminara Republic to another country.
Why does it deserve your time and money?
You can cross the river with the ferry, feed friendly and curious ostriches, see the beautiful peacocks with their impressive tails unfolded like the spanish fans, ride a double bycicle or a small open car (for two adults and two kids), get Naminara stamps and national currency (coins of 1000 and 2000 won value), see lots of weird but interesting sculptures, green forests, the flora heaven with thousands of wonderful flowers of different colors, tall and straight sequoia trees, and other types of amuzingly curved trees, on which you can sit and contemplate the beauty of the river and green hills. If you want to swim or sunbath, there is a beach for that purposes. The water is, however, kind of cold and fresh, because it is not a sea, but a river.
There is an open individual chair lift which crosses the waterways in quite a fast speed, water-skis, katamaran and other water entertainment.
Tips: the island has exceptionally beautiful landscapes and lots of space for sitting, so you can organize a very nice picknick, if you bring your food. The prices for a meal on island are higher than average (8-10.000₩), so for example the simplest ramen from a pack will cost you around 5000₩.
Steps to organize your trip to Nami Island:
1) Get a round-trip ticket from Yongsan (용산) – subway line #1 – to Gapyong (online reservation through korail.kr; only possible with Korean domestic credit card) and back on ITX-Cheongchun train = 8,000 Won. Don’t forget your passport and printed out confirmation of the ticket reservation, when you go to Yongsan station for tickets. The one-way train trip will take less than an hour.
2) You need to take a bus (=1050 Won) or a taxi (= 3,600 Won) from Gapyong station to ferry departure point. If you’re travelling in a group of more than 2 people, the taxi is more preferable.
3) Once you’re there, you’ll see a ticket booth for visiting Nami island. It says that you get a “visa” to visit Naminara Republic, which will cost you 8,000 Won, if you’re a foreigner (10,000 Won is normal price, which is weird, because I wonder who are not foreigners to imaginary Naminara Republic? As I’ve understood, this is the price for Koreans, but then it contradicts to their image of being a “Republic” :D). This visa includes the price of round trip ferry fare. After 5 minutes on ferry you will land on the amazingly green island.
P.S. If you’d like to find more information on how to get to the island by shuttle bus, which is more pricy but provides transferless trip directly to ferry, check out this blogpost.
Enjoy your time in Seoul and in its neighbourhood, the weather allows you to do that!
Peace and Love,