PyeongChang, South Korea (CNN) — Korean hip-hop music blasts from the audio system as snowboarders, decked out in neon from head to toe, cruise by on a slope as busy and bustling as a road in downtown Seoul. It is midnight. The slopes are nonetheless open and the music’s nonetheless blaring.

That is snowboarding South Korean-style: quick, livid and filled with power.

This month, PyeongChang, a little-known mountain area in japanese South Korea, is internet hosting to the world’s largest winter sports activities stage: the Olympic Games.

However will the crowds come?

South Korea has by no means been as a lot of a vacationer draw as neighboring China or Japan, and the precarious security situation — the Korean Peninsula stays in a technical state of conflict, with North Korea brandishing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles — hasn’t helped.

South Korea is mountainous however does not have the beautiful, jagged peaks of the Alps or volcanoes blanketed in 15 meters of snow like Hokkaido. However what South Korea lacks in custom it makes up for in effectivity: small, trendy resorts with quick lifts and good snowmaking.

And the area does have a ski tradition all its personal: soju, BBQ and loads of time soaking in spas often called jjimjilbang.

Tourists from Southeast Asia know this, and make their method to South Korea’s Gangwon Province for a style of winter and to observe within the footsteps of a few of their favourite Korean stars. It is Hokkaido-lite, with a splash of Okay-pop.

Able to hit the slopes?

Here is tips on how to ski like an area in PyeongChang, South Korea (to not be confused with Pyongyang, North Korea, which has its personal ski resort).

Carry a flask of soju for these frigid 2 a.m. chairlift rides

Yongpyong's lodge served as a key setting for South Korean TV drama "Winter Sonata."

Yongpyong’s lodge served as a key setting for South Korean TV drama “Winter Sonata.”

Yongpyong Ski Resort

Should you’re planning to ski at evening, contemplate arming your self with a flask of soju — Korea’s reply to schnapps — to maintain you heat.

Here is why: the positioning of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in japanese Gangwon Province lies about 200 kilometers from the South Korean capital, Seoul.

Except you experience the just-completed high-speed practice line, you will be touring by bus or automotive. With out site visitors, it is a two and half hour drive. However with weekend site visitors, you could possibly arrive nicely into the evening.

Maybe to accommodate Seoulites’ hours, resorts right here keep open late. Very late.

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Alpensia is open till 10 p.m. whereas chair lifts at Yongpyong, also referred to as Dragon Valley, function for evening snowboarding till 2:30 a.m.

That offers diehard skiers and snowboarders the possibility to sneak just a few hours in after their lengthy drive — so long as they bundle up towards midnight temperatures that dip perilously under freezing.

Dragon Peak on the prime of the gondola is the place you will get your pop cultural repair: The long-lasting lodge there served as a key setting for one among South Korea’s most well-known TV dramas, “Winter Sonata.”

As you are snowboarding down, you may pose for “Winter Sonata” selfies within the picture zones.

Blast off that snow and ice

Peak Island at Yongpyong.

Peak Island at Yongpyong.

Yongpyong Ski Resort

South Koreans are meticulous about their gear. While you get off the mountain, you may cease outdoors the lodge to blast off all of the snow and ice with the air weapons lined up outdoors.

Down an overpriced latte, after which it is off to the jjimjilbang for a soak.

South Korea’s model of apres-ski: Jjimjilbang

South Koreans have taken Asia’s love of mineral baths to a different degree by including rooms the place you may sit and, actually, “steam” your self.

Nothing is extra stress-free after a snowy day on the slopes than warming up after which stretching the muscle tissue in a sizzling tub.

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Saunas at Dragon Valley Lodge at Yongpyong and the Vacation Inn at Alpensia are open to the general public.

The resorts’ water parks, Ocean 700 at Alpensia and Peak Island at Yongpyong, are like saunas on steroids, with swimming swimming pools, towering waterslides, meals courts and DVD rooms.

Peak Island even has an space the place you may play golf, and Ocean 700 has a pool that simulates ocean waves.

A monk’s feast

Fresh produce features heavily in Gangwon cuisine.

Recent produce options closely in Gangwon delicacies.

AFP/Getty Photos

By this level, you are most likely ravenous.

Regardless of the development going up for the Olympics, PyeongChang stays a rustic city. Eating places shut early, and there isn’t any nightlife.However there are hidden culinary surprises in PyeongChang if you already know the place to look.

Gangwon Province is thought for its mountain greens, or sanchae, and is dotted with rustic eating places reminiscent of Odae Sanchae Nara, the place the tables groan from the load of dozens — sure, dozens — of small plates that includes roots and greens preserved and introduced in numerous methods.

Platters of potato pancakes spherical out the meal, all paired with the native makgeolli, or rice wine. Mountain greens are a favourite of monks from close by Woljeongsa Temple.

Initially in-built 643, this Buddhist temple is breathtaking in winter and is a well-liked cease for meditative retreats.

Legend has it the temple has been rebuilt a number of instances, most not too long ago after South Korean troops torched it to smoke out North Korean rebels suspected of hiding inside in the course of the 1950-53 Korean Warfare.

Odae Sanchae Nara; 159 Jingogae-ro, Ganpyeong-ri, Jinbu-myeon, PyeongChang-gun, Gangwon Province; +82-33-334-9514; open day by day, eight:30 a.m. – eight p.m.

The place’s the meat?

Should you eat meat, do just like the locals: Choose up packets of Gangwon Province’s well-known hanwoo beef, up there in tenderness with Wagyu beef from Japan.

There are a number of “hanwoo cities” in PyeongChang with self-service grills subsequent door.

Purchase your favourite cuts and for just a few thousand gained (just a few additional ), you may grill it up proper there, with all of the kimchi and fixings your hungry coronary heart wishes.

Or deliver the meat again to the rental and eat the best way Koreans do: sitting cross-legged on the heated flooring whereas taking part in drinking games with somaek, a mashup of the Korean phrases for beer and soju.

Comfort shops have the whole lot you want for a Korean BBQ: disposable chopsticks, microwaveable rice and small containers of the spicy, earthy ssamjang sauce that provides barbecued beef the kick that makes it Korean. And naturally, beer and soju.

The one method to end this Korean evening off correctly — if you have not already keeled over from all of the snow, steam and soju — is to sing.

Karaoke in personal rooms known as noraebang is a typical method to finish any evening out in South Korea. And with out a lot nightlife at PyeongChang, that is the place the personal social gathering occurs.

After you have set free your internal Okay-pop star, you may stumble again to your rental, lay out your mattress and let the heated ondol flooring lull you to sleep.

That is snowboarding, South Korean-style.

Initially printed in January 2017, up to date in February 2018.

Jean H. Lee is a World Fellow for the Woodrow Wilson Worldwide Middle for Students and the previous chief of the AP’s bureaus in Seoul, South Korea, and Pyongyang, North Korea. An avid snowboarder, she could be discovered at @newsjean on Twitter and Instagram. Dasl Yoon additionally contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea.