Autumn in Korea, is there any better season? The colorful foliage, the early morning fog and mist on the rivers and the cool temperatures are three solid reasons that make photographers want to grab their cameras and head out to capture some beauty. There are so many possible locations around the country to visit this time of year, but today I am going to highlight three that have been special to me for some time. Hopefully you will be inspired to go out and capture some images.
Naejangsan National Park
Naejangsan is a well-known mountain in North Jeolla Province that lies inside one of Korea’s many national parks that goes by the same name. The mountain, waterfalls and temple called Baekyangsa provide one of the most popular backdrops for photographers wanting to capture beautiful fall scenes in Korea. The best time to go is the last week of October into the first week of November. Make sure to get there early and on a weekday, if possible, as there will be massive crowds on weekends.
For those more interested in capturing early morning foggy and misty scenes, Gosam Reservoir in Ansung, might just be the spot for you. Gosam, located about an hour and a half southeast of Seoul, gained popularity among photographers after setting the eerie scene for director Kim Ki-duk’s movie “The Isle” in 2000. Since then, thousands of photographers have headed to the reservoir yearly in search of the same mysterious mood. Starting in early October (and even as early as late September some years) and continuing into the beginning of November is the best time to visit to capture this atmosphere, as on certain mornings the lake is completely engulfed by mist and fog.
The final location suggested might come as a surprise to some, as many photographers consider summer and winter the best times to visit Doomoolmeori. “The Meori,” located about 45 minutes east of Seoul in Yangsuri, at the fertile location where the northern and southern portions of the Han River meet, is full of lotuses in the summer, which attracts crowds of photographers nationwide. Then in the winter, hordes of people visit to capture the sentimental side of Doomoolmeori with its frozen river and snowcapped trees. Strangely enough, fall and spring, which are typically the most popular seasons to visit any location, are not quite as full of people. Do not get too excited, there will still be photographers there, but just not as many as in the peak season.
There are a couple of reasons why fall is my favorite time to visit Yangsuri. First, the sun rises right above the famous pine tree island out in the middle of the river and fog action is at its highest. Additionally, because the Meori is full of trees, the beautiful fall foliage is a pleasure to capture. The final reason is that Sujongsa, one of my favorite temples in Korea, is located just down the road from Doomoolmeori. In addition to being surrounded by lovely trees, the temple has one of the best tea houses around and enjoying a hot cup after an early morning shoot while looking out the window at the colorful view is the perfect way to wind down and relax.
Because of the vibrant colors of autumn and the early morning atmospheric conditions, photographers really cannot go wrong photographing anywhere in Korea. The three locations discussed above have had special places in my heart for some time. If you have some free time this season, grab coffee (if needed), your camera and head out to one or more of these spots. Maybe I will see you there!
John Steele is an American photographer living in Seoul. See more of his work at www.johnsteelephoto.com and follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/johnsteelephoto/, where he is currently displaying his Best of Autumn series.