ORIGIN OF NAMI ISLAND
Nami Island was named after General Nami, a notable figure in Korean history who died at the age of 26 after being accused of treason during the Joseon dynasty. Later, according to my tour guide, it was found that the good general was actually innocent. Although Nami Island was supposed to be his resting place, his body and grave has not been found even today so instead piles of stones are placed where his grave should have been. The place itself is treated as a place of prayer and no one is allowed to touch or move the stones.
GETTING TO NAMI ISLAND
Nami Island is around 63 km from Seoul and is situated in the middle of the Han river. It is about an hour’s drive from Seoul ( we stayed at the Lotte Hotel in Jamsil ) on a good day with no traffic. However, if you happened to visit South Korea during the autumn months, please leave as early as you can as the amount of tourists that go to Nami Island during the autumn months is phenomenal. I learnt from my tour guide that the autumn months are the busiest months with packed parking lots and ferry queues 2 hours long on either side. Part of the problem is that they do not have many ferries operating at one time and the ferries they use are actually pretty small.
Insadong/Jamsil – Nami Island direct shuttle bus ( Mon – Sun )
Adult fee: 15,000 ( round trip) / 7500 one way
Child fee: 13,000 ( round trip) / 6500 one way
* Child aged 24 months – 12 years
TICKETS AND FARES
Nami Island functions like a mini country. In fact it is also called Naminara Republic and has its own passport and visas. A tourist must buy a visa at their “immigration” next to their parking lot on the mainland to get onto Nami Island.
Regular: 10,000 won
Discount: 8000 won – for foreigner
Special: 4000 won – only for visitors
(a) aged between 3 to 13
(b) after 6.10pm ( Dec – Mar )
(c) after 7.10pm ( Apr – Nov )
Free entrance: Child aged 3 or under
* All visa fees include round-trip ferry fare and tax.
Parking Fees: 4000 won per day.
Short term passport ( 1 year) – 25,000 won
* Valid for one year from date of issue.
FERRIES AND ZIP -WIRE
There are only two ways to get onto the island itself from the mainland. The first is by ferry and it is the most popular route among tourists as it is safe and allows plenty of time for a tourist to snap some pictures on the way to the island. However, because of its popularity the ferry can get very crowded during busy days. It is best to try and place yourself near the railings on the outside part of the ferry rather than standing inside the covered part of the ferry especially if you are claustrophobic or get nauseous easily.
Every 30 minutes until last ferry at 21:45 ( departure – Nami Wharf)
Every 12-20 mintues between 9:00 – 18:00
Another way to get onto the island is by Zip-wire that connects the mainland to Nami Island. For those who do not know what Zip-wire is, it is where people are strapped onto a harness that is attached to a heavy duty line connecting point A ( mainland ) to point B ( Nami Island ). Admittedly, the queues are a lot shorter however it is not for the faint-hearted. The Zip-wire tower stands at around 80 meters tall and the ride alone takes about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Those who use Zip-wire are typically teens and young adults.
Zip Wire fare: Nami Island – 38,000 won
NAMI ISLAND = WINTER’S SONATA
Anyone who watches Korean dramas know that the most famous Korean drama that literally kick started the Hallyu also known as the Korean Wave was and still is Winter’s Sonata. Even now, 10 years after the drama’s release, fans of Korean dramas will make sure to visit Nami Island if they ever get the chance to visit South Korea because Nami Island has literally become synonymous to the drama Winter Sonata.
For those who are not familiar with the drama, it is about two star-crossed lovers who encounter many hurdles in their relationship including amnesia and ends with a rather bittersweet ending where they do get together finally but not before a rather tragic incident involving the lead character occurred.
Although the origin of Nami Island had nothing to do with the famous drama, the creation of Winter’s Sonata whose filming was done almost entirely within the picturesque Nami Island made it the Mecca of Korean drama fans. Tourists from all over the world, particularly South East Asian tourists, come to Nami Island to re-enact the journey of the star-crossed lovers in the drama.