Nami Island is just THE WORST!

If there is something that Nami Island has taught me, it is to never trust a Korean with travel suggestions, even within their own country. Alright, that is pretty harsh, but it is true that Nami is one of the worst places to visit in all of South Korea, despite being a local favorite.

Nami Island or ‘Namiseom’ is situated in the middle of the north Han River near Gapyeong city and was artificially created after the construction and subsequent flooding by the Cheongpyeong Dam. It was then turned into a sort of amusement park with metasequioas, hi-rail bikes, and even ostriches in a little coral.

This one should be investigated for overloading too. This can't be legal.
This one should be investigated for overloading too. This can’t be legal.

Why do I hate Nami so much?

The idea of Nami is great on paper as a place to go and relax. It is thought of as a quiet getaway from the busy city life. The reality is something completely different.

For starters, it is completely overcrowded. If you thought the Seoul subway had too many people, you should look at the line trying to exit Nami. The third time I visited (yes I am ashamed to admit that I gave this place a third chance), the line to get on the ferry back to the mainland was over 2 hours long.

The line for the Nami Ferry. My lens wasn't wide enough to capture it all, but this is about 1/5 of the line.
The line for the Nami Ferry. My lens wasn’t wide enough to capture it all, but this is about 1/5 of the line.

 

 

How is the nature?

There is nothing natural about it. Locals have this illusion that Nami is a natural paradise which is completely ridiculous. There are a handful of squirrels that everybody harasses if they happen to show themselves. The metasequoias would make for some awesome photography if there weren’t literally hundreds of people walking through them. This is how I imagine Yellowstone would look if 10 billion people visited every year. I feel that the craze over Nami by locals is firmly rooted in the Korean idea that “if everyone goes there, it MUST be good.”

I saw numerous people hit the ostriches, pluck their feathers, or try to feed them paper or garbage. It was truly a sad sight.
I saw numerous people hit the ostriches, pluck their feathers, or try to feed them paper or garbage. It was truly a sad sight.

 

How about some lunch?

Everything is overpriced. If there is one thing I have always praised about Korea is that they don’t really jack up the prices in hard to reach places or amusement parks. Nami is the exception. Food is twice what it would cost on the other side of the ferry. Things like bike rentals are four times the price of anywhere else. While I have always wanted to try that zipline to the island, I am not willing to pay $40 or wait the required 2 hours to do it.

Some are fascinated in knowing that Nami has been the location of some classic Korean dramas. While the island might have looked beautiful when no one else was around, it is terrible with so many people. It is like trying to enjoy classical music with someone yelling in your ear.

Like these cars? That will be $10 for 30 minutes.
Like these cars? That will be $10 for 30 minutes.

 If there is one place to avoid in Korea, it is definitely Nami Island. Disagree? Fight with me in the comments below!

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Julio Moreno

Julio is a California native who has lived abroad since 2009 as an expat in South Korea and New Zealand. He is especially passionate about experiencing other cultures and visiting as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible.
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2 thoughts on “Nami Island is just THE WORST!

  • August 21, 2017 at 1:35 pm
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    I’m sorry you had such an awful experience at Nami Island. I’m not here to fight about your right to hate it; your comments were fair enough. I visited Nami Island on a weekday in summer when it was far less crowded and found it a pleasant enough experience. It’s sort of like how everyone “loves” Disneyland but when you go it’s actually hell on earth, just because everybody else ruins it.
    However, I feel like it’s a little unfair to call it a “Korean idea” that if everyone goes somewhere, it must be good. Plenty of other people, regardless of their race or nationality, follow that mentality as well.
    Regards,
    –another California native who lived as an expat in South Korea

    Reply
    • September 2, 2017 at 1:09 am
      Permalink

      Glad you had a good time, but personally, I’m 0/3 and don’t really feel like investing on a 4th trip to maybe possible get a decent day.
      I personally like Disney and don’t mind others there at all. The problem is that Nami sells itself as something it isn’t and to me, that happens often in Korean “natural” setting sites.

      Reply

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