A couple from Anchorage, Alaska, who adopted three babies from South Korea, want our help planning a trip to their children's birth country.
With two boys interested in the South Korean army, a trip to the DMZ, one of the world's most heavily fortified borders, is a must. Public access is restricted, so go on a tour, such as one offered by the USO (uso.org/korea; children 10 to 12, $22; over 12, $44; children under 10 aren't allowed). Rules at the DMZ are strict: A passport is required for entry, and a dress code is enforced (for example, flip-flops, sleeveless shirts, tank tops, and torn clothing are forbidden); see the USO website for details.
Check the Seoul city government website for information on festivals and performances (english.visitseoul.net). Both the Seoul Arts Center (sac.or.kr) and the Sejong Center (sejongpac.or.kr) host performances throughout the year, including symphonic, opera, jazz, and contemporary music concerts. Tickets for top-level cultural events start at around $30.
Daegu and More
While in Daegu, head to the markets in the center of the city, about a half mile south
of Daegu Station. Try acupuncture at Yangnyeongsi herbal medicine market (herb.daegu.go.kr/eng), or browse textiles and clothing--Daegu specialties--at Seomun Market.
About 35 miles east of Daegu is Gyeongju, once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla. What with all the hiking trails, temples, and gardens, you could easily fill two days here. Don't miss the Silla burial grounds in Tumuli Park: The tall, rounded, grass-covered mounds look like something you'd find in a Dr. Seuss book ($1.60).
Near Andong, the kids can duke it out over which to do first: Andong Hahoe Folk Village ($2.15), along the Nakdong river, or the Andong Hanji Factory, a traditional Korean paper-making plant with demos (tours are free; hands-on experiences $1.10-$3.25).
Haeinsa Temple is another easy day trip from Daegu. Dating back to 802, the temple houses a collection of more than 80,000 woodblock prints made during the Goryeo Dynasty (haeinsa.or.kr).
Many attractions in South Korea have websites in Korean only. For information in English, call the Korea Travel Phone, run by the Korea Tourism Organization. Dial 1330 from anywhere in South Korea, or 011-82/2-1330 from the U.S. The line is open 24 hours a day. You can also go to the Korea Tourism Organization's website (english.tour2korea.com), or visit any of the tourist info centers throughout the country.
Budget Travel Tip: If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Seoul, try what's called a DVD bang--a private screening of the movie of your choice. (English titles abound.) The rooms usually hold just two to three people.