South Korea // Gyeonggi and Gangwon //

The dolmens

Misty remnants from bygone millennia, Ganghwa’s dolmens are overground burial chambers consisting of flat capstones supported by three or more vertical megaliths. The Korean peninsula contains more than 30,000 of these ancient tombs – almost half of the world’s total – and Ganghwado has one of the highest concentrations in the country. Most can only be reached by car or bike, though one is situated near a main road and accessible by bus. From Ganghwa-eup, take one of the buses bound for Changhu-ri, which depart every hour or so, and make sure that the driver knows where you want to go – ask to be dropped off at the main Goindol (24hr; free), a granite tomb which sits unobtrusively in a field as it has for centuries: a stone skeleton long divested of its original earth covering, with a large 5m by 7m capstone. The surrounding countryside is extremely beautiful, and you can combine a visit to the dolmen with a delightful walk. One of the best places to head to is the village of Hajeom (하점), not far to the west, where the roofs of some houses have been traditionally decorated with distinctive patterns. From the hills above Hajeom it’s possible to view the North Korean bank of the Hangang, though sadly the propaganda that the North used to boom across the border from giant speakers can no longer be heard. Visual propaganda still remains, however, in the form of giant slogans best seen from the small mountain of Bongcheonsan (봉천산), a forty-minute walk north of Hajeon – the message visible across the border translates as “Yankees go home”, a request that would doubtless be more effective were it not written in Korean.

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