Jeonju Hanok Village, Gyeongju Bulguksa, Andong Hahoe Village, and Haeundae Beach in Busan. These places are famous tourist attractions in South Korea that everyone has heard of at least once. Then, what about E-train, Haerang train, or DMZ train? Are they familiar words? Or do you know about them in detail? Maybe most people belong to the latter. Those three trains are South Korea’s special tourist trains. There is a reason why people feel strange about these trains. This is because people only concentrate on their destinations when they go on a trip. In other words, when people travel, they do not really put importance in transportation such as flights, ships, trains or buses, rather they focus on tourist spots or tourism attractions. However! Here is Jun-Kyu Park (Department of Industrial Engineering, Class of ’94, Kyungwon University), fascinated by trains (unlike most travelers) and who became an expert on train trips before Rail-ro was formed. Aren’t you curious about the attractive things that trains have? And what kinds of charming train features made Jun-Kyu Park become a master of train trips? If everyone is ready, let’s fall in love with train trips through Jun-Kyu Park’s interview.
1. What made you fall in love with train trips?
There is no exact reason. Trains became my life because I often took them. When I was in kindergarten, I rode in a train whenever I went to my grandmother’s house in Mungyeong, Gyeongbuk. I also often went to my aunt’s house in Daegu by riding a train. As you can see, since I was little, I frequently got on a train. I went on lots of train trips after entering Gachon University. I always had the desire to go on a trip but I could not make it when I was in middle school and high school. So, I traveled a lot when I became a university student. With lots of train trip experiences, before I knew it, trains had become my life.
2. Unlike cars, buses, or air planes, what kind of things make trains charming?
There are a lot of attractive parts to trains. Firstly, trains are not influenced by traffic jams. Actually, expressway congestion is really serious during the weekend, right? But trains are unaffected by this problem. So travelers get less stressed while moving to the sights. Also, trains have a feeling of being humane. Train passengers sometimes change when trains stop at stations and it is quite interesting to watch. We can also hear different dialects from local people and ask some the ticket checking crew questions about our trip. Lastly, I think the most charming point of trains is watching the scenery go by. For example, when you ride in a train going to Jeongdongjin, you can see amazing East Sea views during the five-minute journey from Donghae Station to Mukho Station.
3. After comparing Korean train trips and foreign country train trips, please tell us the charming points of each train trip.
Actually, this is the first time I have been asked this question. Nice question. First of all, there is a Bukpasanmun course in Baekdusan ‘snow on the branches’ train, which is an hour long course. An advantage of this train is that you can see the scenery of snow on the branches as much as you want. When Japan colonized Taiwan, Japan made Alishan forest train in Taiwan to convey cut cedar. But, nowadays, it is used a lot for tourism. This train has wonderful scenery as well. It doesn’t mean that Korean trains are not attractive. There is no such train as has better facilities and services like Korean trains. What is more, there are two types of Korean trains; fast ones and slow ones. So, it is quite awesome that we can choose the trains.
♥About Train Trip Professional’s Job♥
4. Please tell us about your current job and other work you want to do in the future related to train trips.
Now I work as a freelancer and I am working on about 12 things. For instance, I introduce travel spots once a month on the ‘Ins and outs of Korea’ section of the Dong-A Daily News, and I give lectures in department stores and universities, too. Moreover, I appear on radio and television shows and give information about train trips. So, basically, my job is to introduce train trips to people who do not know about it and recommend some train trips to people based on their features. For example, I recommend package trips or Railtel (Rail+Hotel or Motel), which is also a package trip that adds rail and accommodation.
Similar to what I'm doing now, I want to promote train trip courses in simple ways to people in the future. Plus, I want to introduce new tourist trains.
♥During Train Journey♥
5. When watching movies or dramas, we can often catch that characters fall in love or experience dramatic situations during the trip. Have you ever experienced any kinds of episodes in the train?
Yes. Of course I have. To answer this question, I cannot count out my ex-girlfriend that I dated lately. That was maybe... May. I met her on the wine-train that is a two days and one night at Gyeongju course. She was traveling with two of her friends. On the second day, in front of the golden pig statue in Bulguksa, she asked me to take a picture of her and her friend. I actually do not ask people to take pictures with my camera because of portrait rights, but I asked her to take a picture with my camera as well. After that, we went to Seokguram and Cheomseongdae. Then we became familiar. She lived in Jeonju. When we dated, I went to Jeonju a lot and our relationship was great. We're broken up now but we still contact each other well.
6. Do you have any travel beliefs that you learned from train trips?
Travel philosophy or belief is different every time. So, to pick one of them, I can say ‘Take an unplanned trip every month’. Indeed, I take an unplanned trip once a month. The 5th of May last year, I just went to Busan by taking the express bus at night. I arrived in Busan at dawn. Right after I arrived, I went to a jjimjilbang (Korean dry sauna that originates from the traditional ondol heating system) and slept there. After waking up, I went to Haeundae Beach and took the express bus at 5:30pm and came back home. I really recommend this type of unplanned trip. The best thing about this kind of travel is that you can escape a bit from your stressful life and refresh your mind because there’s no planned schedule that you have to follow.
7. Please suggest good train trip courses for the upcoming spring season because this article is going to be updated in March.
I recommend that you start your train trips with Gwangyang Japanese Apricot flower festival on the 20th of March. This is because the Japanese Apricot flower blooms first. Next, you can follow this course; Gurae mountain Sansuyu flower festival→ Jinhae Gunhang Festival→ Bomun Lake Resort in Gyeongju (watching Cherry blossoms)→ My mountain (watching Cherry blossoms in Jinan in Chonbuk)→ Gangneung Gyeongpo lake (watching Cherry blossoms). You can see so many beautiful flowers.
8. Lastly, please give your last words to people who dream about train trips.
I’d like to recommend to you, “Not only to dream but also to put it into practice!” To do that, most of all, visit nearby places before making a lot of plans because practice is important. For instance, one of the closest places is Namiseom Island. Also, we can get useful trip information such as Rail-ro through the Internet these days. Lastly, I strongly assure you that the most important thing would be making up your mind and practice. Put it into Action! These will bring development of you.
Jun-Kyu Park, who said, “I emptied today's schedule for Gachon Herald’s interview." However, right after the interview, he said that he would go to Gwangju. He tried to take an unplanned trip again. He said the journey is enjoyable even though he doesn’t know what to do after arriving in Gwangju. Interviewing him, I realized that the itinerary belongs to a trip and a train is the way to make our trip an attractive experience. What do you think? Did you feel any attractiveness for train trips? Whatever is fine. It is important to start traveling. For once, let’s melt our time into a running train. The time will be solidified as certain memories. No one knows what kind of memories will come to our mind. However, certainly and surely, it will return to us as a meaningful memory.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >