At Mindungsan (민둥산), 35km west of Taebaek, a spur splits from the main train line and barrels up north through an extremely picturesque valley, whose undulating hills and unspoilt scenery carry echoes of Shikoku in Japan. A single-carriage train plies this route, heading through Jeongseon to Auraji, though its modern swivel-chairs are somewhat incongruous with the surrounding bucolic scenery and the small, unassuming towns on route.
Situated 20km along this spur line, JEONGSEON (정선) is the only stop that could possibly be termed “touristy” – most of the valley’s accommodation and restaurants can be found here, and there’s a market on every date ending with a 2 or a 7, along with coinciding assorted cultural performances from April to November.
For the most enjoyable attraction on the route, you’ll have to head 15km further to AURAJI (아우라지) at the end of the line: shuttle buses meet the trains and head further up the track to a now-disused station, from where you can cycle the 7km back down the train line to Auraji on a specially crafted rail-bike. Its popularity means that it can be booked solid at weekends, though on slacker days curious foreigners may be given a free 100m dash – don’t forget to brake. Also at the station is an odd burger-bar-cum-café in the shape of two fish.