A spectacular birds eye view of Wasu-ri and the surrondoung mountains
There are extensive numbers of outdoor activities in the surrounding area, including: ATV-ing,
the always exhilarating bunjee jump, and rafting. Or why not head down to the river for a relaxed
fishing session? Wasu-ri also has several beautiful hikes on it’s doorstep. One that’s particularly
worth mentioning is a relatively short hike that starts behind the market. There is also a Buddhist
temple on this hill that can be visited, though it is not of the calibre of the old traditional
temples you see in tourist images (head to the DMZ for those). One place that’s worth mentioning
is a ‘Pension’ (accommodation) near Dongsong called 한여울 (Hanyeo-Ul) – www.hakpension.co.kr – that
will pick up and drop off from many activity places.
There is also, of course, the ever popular, and well worth it, DMZ trip (De-Militarized-Zone).
Many people visit Cheorwon County for this purpose. To take a trip there yourself you need a car and
you often need to phone in advance or relinquish your I.D card upon entrance to be retrieved upon
exit. This applies when travelling into the heart of the DMZ and seeing scenes like the blasted out
and eerie labour headquarters, or the beautiful old temples. There are also a few tunnel entrances
you can visit and it is possible to visit many areas along the DMZ where you can stand in the middle
of the bridge and spit into North Korea.
Visiting North Korea proper is near-on impossible. There are organized tour groups that will take you
in (either on a hiking tour or a guided tour) but be aware that these tours will not take you to any
real North Korean towns but prefab towns that are designed to present North Korea at its best, and
you will have a “translator” with your every step all the way. Most of the Westerners living in this
area have visited with Korean friends or co-workers and so, we are currently unsure of how best to
go about travel alone. Without a car it is very difficult. There are certainly many tour groups in
the area, including DMZ history and birdwatching tours.
Korean Niagara Falls
Located right by the DMZ, are the “Korean Niagara Falls” which, as most Koreans will agree, are a
disappointment considering their name. They are situated in beautiful little location, but ‘little’
should be the operative word. The falls are about 80m wide, so an impressive stretch - they are only
about 5m high though, so really barely earn the title “Falls”. They should be mentioned as one of
the ‘famous’ things in this area (although in a rather tongue-in-cheek kind of way).
We do not currently have any information on Festivals in Wasu-ri
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Despite its rural location and small town atmosphere, Wasu-ri is not a dead end. There are frequent and
fast buses to Seoul, which will link you to anywhere in Korea. There are fewer buses to Chuncheon but the
capital of Gangwon-do is also only 1.5 hour bus ride away.
Restaurant Street, Near the Bus Station
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Where you eat will largely depend on what food you want.
There are two restaurants with front porches, one close to the bus station and one on the other side of the
market. 미락가든 (MirakGarden) does particularly good Samgyapsal (pork), and Bulgogi (cheap beef), though is not
the cheapest option.
If you are vegetarian, or simply like a break from the almost constant intake of meat, then the small but
(arguably the friendliest) little ‘Jodongheng’ has great Dolsot Bibimbap (egg, rice and vegetables) and Kimchi
Jiggae (kimchi stew). The added excitement of a Westerner eating their Korean food means the indescribably
welcoming women who own the place bring out an inedible amount of side dishes for you to try.
Another restaurant worth mentioning is 장군집 (JangGoonJip – the Captain’s House). The owner is tiny and
lovely, she will sit and watch the sports with you if you invite her (no English spoken though) and the meat
there is delicious. There’s a great “Special” order if you are eating with a few people.
If you think there might be any clubs in Wasu-ri, think again! There are a few good bars downtown to choose
from though and a ‘Jazz Bar’ which is yet to be explored by Westerners. (Oh, and a three building ‘red light district’!)
‘Beer Castle’ is worth a mention for its good humoured staff and easy to spot signage. ‘Time’ and ‘EOS’ are also
quite sweet bars with laid back atmospheres. There are no Western style bars so, in keeping with Korean style, every
bar has individual booths and often a fair amount of privacy between booths. Beer Castle has the most open layout
and therefore the most social atmosphere. Young adults in Wasu-ri are few and far between, unless they are in khaki,
but the soldiers are good fun to drink with - and if you want to get to know the locals, then visit other booths
around the bar with a soju bottle and shot glass in hand and learn the soju giving/receiving culture. (You can always
say that you lost a drinking game and this is your punishment if you want an excuse)
Noraebang (Karaoke) - No Korean town, no matter what it’s size, is complete without a Noraebang, or twenty. Wasu-ri,
true to form, has several around town and it would perhaps be worth mentioning the Live Music Room in Sincheorwon
which is not that cheap but has an entire stage and several instruments… Noraebang taken to the next level.
Young adults almost all leave town at the weekends, heading towards the bright lights of a big city, so Wasu-ri
weekend social life consists either of making friends with soldiers or getting to know the native English teachers
Ramyeon tables in the sheltered part of the market, cheap and delicious.
Wasu-ri is a small town, and not every item is easy to find. Neighbouring Dongsong and Sincheorwon provide
the extras or comfort products, but Wasu-ri still provides enough to basically set up a home and get by in general
Although there is not a supermarket, you will find 3 small grocery stores located throughout
the town. The produce is expensive by Western standards, so your best bet is to buy anything fresh at the market.
If you live and work in Wasu-ri it is even possible to get your hands on your own allotment and grow your own produce.
6 Day Market
Every 5/6 days (the schedule seems to change sometimes, but certainly at least once a week) the
local market opens up and spills out onto the main streets. This market sells practically everything from clothes
and shoes to duvets and pet goldfish. It works seasonally and so in Spring will also sell seedlings and farming
tools, as well as chickens and ducks. If you walk into “와수시장” (the main body of the market – sheltered) you will
find fresh grains, fish, and eggs. During the market hours, food stands will sell homemade ramyeon noodles and kimchi
for about 2,000 won. This is the best place to buy your produce, much of it is local, cheaper than the stores, and
very fresh. The local vendors are often found on the streets outside of market hours also.
Market day spilling out onto the street
You will find a couple of ‘Family Mart’s and ‘Buy the Way’s scattered along the main road.
At least one of the Family Mart’s is a 24 hour store, and sells proper wine and liquor in the back, bottles ranging
between 6,000 – 100,000 won.
Bakeries – Wasu-ri has both a Paris Baguette and a local bakery along the main road. The Paris Baguette is next
to the bus terminal, and the local bakery is directly behind the local bus stop. You can find sandwich bread at the
Paris Baguette, but for all other delights go the cheaper and tastier local bakery which has fresh cakes, good
baguettes, and free samples of most of their treats.
Wasu-ri has 3 different banks in town. More than likely, you will be using the NH (Nong Hyup) bank, which
closes at 4:30 PM. The machine for paying bills shuts off at 4pm, so if you are working in the area, you will
have to get out of work during the day to pay bills. When the bank closes at 4.30pm a metal divider means the
ATMs are still available. There are also ATMs littered all over town, which are easy to find.
There is a Post Office right next to the Nyonghyup Bank where the staff don’t speak English but the current
(mid 2010) security man does, and is keen to help. Please note - the Post Office closes at 4.30pm.
There are dozens of internet cafés in Wasu-ri. Just look for one of the ‘PC Bang’ signs and don’t be surprised
if you go in and find dozens of soldiers playing shooting games.
There are also a couple of stores that sell school supplies and little trinket prizes located along the main roads.
If you are looking to rent movies, there is a DVD shop across from the bus terminal. One DVD or VHS is 2,000 won
for 2-4 days. The women in there don’t speak English but there are plenty of Western films to choose from, and it is
often occupied by high/middle school students reading the rentable graphic novels, who may well be able to help you.
The ‘Buy the Way’ just down the road also has a video rental section. You do, however, need an address and phone
number to rent anything. (No sign of a cinema for miles around, best to go to Seoul).
If you have been in Korea for more than 24 hours you have probably heard of ‘Jim Jil Bangs’. Wasu-ri’s biggest
jimjilbang has a 24 hour sauna and upstairs common room. Essentially a large bath-house and sauna, it costs 5,000
won to get in. Writing this from a woman’s perspective, I’m afraid commenting on the male area is impossible, and
I don’t know anyone who has used the common room. There is a small common area in the women’s sauna area and the
women are incredibly friendly; if you feel inclined to, you are welcome to sit back and join them in watching Korean
soap operas, eating yoghurt and sipping on a cold beverage from their small store. Don’t expect to wear any clothes.
If you are particularly uncomfortable about being naked, a bikini or swimsuit would certainly be accepted but you
would be the only one wearing one. Relax and enjoy the various steam rooms and large tubs, sit and give yourself a
good scrub with free soap and an exfoliation mit (500 won). Or pay a bit more and get one of a variety of special
treats, from a body scrub (15,000 won for about an hour) to a full on body massage and skin treatment (55,000 won).
If you keep walking straight from the taxi stand, you will find a bowling alley on the right side of the street,
set back a block (just look for the giant bowling pin). This is quite possibly the worst bowling alley in South Korea
(something to be proud of) as it is small, lit like a gymnasium and all of the lanes are extra greasy. It is good for
a fun game, just don’t get too competitive as the greasy lanes will inhibit you from controlling the ball. The best
thing about the bowling alley is that it is incredibly cheap and there is free coffee and water. Bring your own beer
and soju and have a fun night!
Pool / Billiards
Although unfortunately in a similar vein to the bowling alley, a little lacking in the atmosphere and certainly
no in-house bar, there are a few pool/billiard rooms for those who like to hit balls across tables. Yet to find a
dart board in Wasu-ri though.
There isn’t a gym in Wasu-ri itself but there is one nearby in Hapuri, about a 20minute walk away. Membership
is only 10,000 won per month. It is a small gym but, like everywhere in this area, the people there are very
friendly. There is also (rather excitingly) the construction of a new “Y Centre” underway in Wasu-ri itself.
There is also a set of badminton courts and a TaeKwonDo Centre but currently, membership options are unknown.