In this final look at Fjällräven Classic-inspired events in Asia we head to South Korea, where the story is quite different to that of Thailand and Indonesia.
Trekking and hiking aren’t new for South Koreans. 70% of the country is covered by mountains. Nature is still wild. Forests are ancient. Rivers gush through gorges. It’s really dramatic and it’s a country that begs to be explored on foot. And that’s what Koreans have done for generations. Although it’s mostly been more of an older person’s pastime.
In recent years though, inspired by the growing global trend of outdoor culture and aided by increasing personal wealth, younger Koreans have started trekking and venturing further afield to places like Nepal, Europe, the US and South America. So local Fjällräven distributer, Joshua Kim, and his team decided the time was ripe to bring Fjällräven Classic to South Korea.
“We had been running smaller training events, preparing people in South Korea for the Fjällräven Classic event in Sweden, for quite a while now.” (Up to 200 South Koreans attend the Swedish Classic every year.) “This was to help them discover and learn more about the brand, but also to get ready for the challenges of the trek in Sweden,” explains Joshua. “But as more people wanted to join these events, we realised we should create one here in South Korea and we wanted to make this style of trekking – carrying all your own equipment – more doable for people.”
The South Korean event, run for the first time on a small scale in 2018, offers a relatively easy route. Of course with almost three quarters of the country covered in mountains, the route is quite hilly. But Joshua wanted to avoid big challenges; he wanted to ensure it was an inclusive event for families and beginners just as much for those already enjoying hiking in the Korean mountains.
Location-wise, Joshua wanted somewhere that would live up to the Swedish event in terms of the ‘wow factor’. This took him and his team to Jeju, a UNESCO World Heritage island located south of the Korean Peninsula and home to South Korea’s highest mountain. The scenery is breathtaking: mountains, forests, beaches – all at once.
“We want to appeal to an international audience, too. Most people will be from Korea, of course. But we hope that by combining this location and trail with the Fjällräven brand we can attract people from all over the world.”
Due to the fact the island is a national park, camping and cooking must be done in designated camp sites. This means most food showcases local cuisine, and camping together helps create a feeling of camaraderie and friendship.
“I personally really like this kind of trekking, when you are self-sufficient,” says Joshua. “It offers so much more freedom and you can travel to more remote areas and feel more natural and relaxed in the outdoors. I find it more fun and I hope this will spread throughout Korea thanks to the event we’re running now in Korea.”
Text: Sarah Benton