The resort featured today has been closed since 2006. The former resort is not too far away from where the 2018 Winter Olympics took place. British newspapers wrote ruin porn articles about this location. They interviewed locals about how the closure of the ski resort affected their businesses. Many owned ski rental shops or convenience stores in the village in front of the ski resort. I felt icky reading these articles that appeared in the British press. However, the writings bring up an important question: What will happen to the Pyeongchang Olympic venues in the next five to ten years? Were they build to be used only for the show and pageantry of the Olympics? The abandoned sites in Athens, and Beijing, and Sochi prove what an economic waste the Olympics can be for countries in the long run. It has been fifteen years since the closing of the Athens Olympics, eleven years for the games in Beijing, and five years in Sochi. These places have let nature reclaim the venues. Countries spend millions to showcase their country for sixteen days of games, and then the structures are forgotten. In the year and a half since the Pyeongchang games, the outlook is also bleak. This video is from just three months after!
Sam Weber from CityLab went back to Pyeongchang a few months after the closing ceremonies and reported to on the ghost town vibes once the tourists left. Hotels and other business set up to serve the massive influx of tourists are eerily quiet now. There is an old fashioned idea that the Olympic Games can inject new jobs and economic prosperity to countries. Weber wrote “Residents hoped hosting the Olympics would continue to draw Korean and international visitors, but so far that doesn’t appear to be happening, despite the addition of a high-speed train that cuts the trip from Seoul to less than two hours. Instead, much of Pyeongchang looks like it did before the games—a small farming community.” Korean organizers believed the money spent would revitalize Pyeongchang-gun, all evidence indicates otherwise.
I bring up Pyeongchang because some residents interviewed by the British press wished they had spent money to revitalize the resort and bring skiing events to their small village. In their opinion, it would be that much-needed infusion of tourist dollars that would help keep it afloat. Well, looking at the video above, it seems like it would have been for naught either way. They would be in the same position they are in now. The resort was built in the ’80s and was one of the first of its kind in Korea at the time. The area was even a popular ski location decades before the resort due to its natural accumulation of snow. With no ski lifts, skiers would hike up the hills with skis and poles in tow, to slalom the slopes.
The iconic clock tower of the resort.
It was Children’s Day weekend, I had a three-day weekend. My girlfriend had just arrived in town from Singapore. I had been dying to explore the site after seeing Jon’s pictures from 2015, I needed to experience the place for myself. The former ski resort was on my list of must-sees in Korea. Living in a country of rapid change, I needed to see it sooner rather than later. It also helped my girlfriend wanted to visit Gangwon-do while she was in the country. She really wanted to eat some east coast seafood. My love doesn’t mind urban exploring with me as well. I think I lucked out in the romantic department.
This place is effortless to find. So I leave to you, dear reader, to use your internet sleuthing skills to locate it. Take photos and have fun, just don’t break shit. There isn’t much to break anyway. Comparing the British press photos from January 2018 with my experience in May 2019, I noticed that people at some point were cleaning to a certain extent and then stopped. We didn’t see unused skis or golf carts anywhere. In front of one of the many condos, we discovered stacks of idle dishes, left in a sort of urbex purgatory. My girlfriend and I saw piles of garbage starting to sprout weeds.
We had the run to the place. The only people we saw were farmers too busy tending their land to notice intruders. Maybe they are used to recreational trespassers by now? In a nearby abandoned restaurant and ski shop, the former owner drives his tractor tilling the land. We didn’t go into many condos, as it was pretty monotonous after the first one. Most of them had been stripped clean. Here are some photos from the kitchen from the restaurant in front of the slopes.
Most of the photos were taken in the complex that housed the pool, night club, and conference hall. There were little things set up that reminded of the Instagram posts from Japanese urbexers that visited a few months prior. I found the most exciting stuff in the conference area. In one of the seminar rooms, there was a make-shift office for a company in charge of refurbishing the resort in the distant past. There were lots of documents, photos to scour. Tons of traditional Korean drums piled up on couches in a green room to the side of the stage.
Next post I will dedicate to the number of abandoned ski rental shops in the small village, including the one we were able to get into. Until next time, I hope you have safe adventures!