Korea's International Gateway

Incheon is Korea’s third-largest city, with a population of 3 million people, located in the northwest corner of the country, directly bordering Seoul. Most visitors to Korea may know about Incheon thanks to Incheon International Airport, which serves as the main international airport for the Seoul Metropolitan Area. However, there’s far more to Incheon than just its airport. Although it lacks the cosmopolitanism of Seoul and constantly lives in its shadow, Incheon has its own long, distinct history and identity that goes all the way back to the period of the Three Kingdoms around the 5th-century. Numerous historical events that shaped modern Korea occurred in Incheon, and the city is chock full of important historical sites. Incheon today is a massive agglomeration of highly contrasting environments, with hyper-modern districts packed with towering high rises, industrial zones, countryside farming villages, and small isolated islands in the Yellow Sea all within its limits, leaving too much to explore in just a single weekend.

 

The city’s role as both a major port and air traffic hub have turned it into Korea’s international gateway, providing access to the massive Seoul Metropolitan Area to millions of foreign visitors every year. This led to the development of the Songdo International Business District, a city built from scratch upon reclaimed land in 2015, constructed right across the bay from Incheon International Airport, designed to lure foreign companies and organizations to Incheon. It boasts numerous eco-friendly features, towering office buildings and high-rise apartments, and an abundance of green space. Just a short subway ride away at Incheon Station is Korea’s only official Chinatown, established all the way back in 1883, home to some of the best Chinese restaurants in the country. In the opposite direction along the Suin Line is the city’s largest seafood market in Soraepogu, with tons of restaurants serving fresh seafood brought in daily to the district's small fishing port.

 

In the far north part of the city is Ganghwa Island, home to numerous historical sites. It was the refuge of the Goryeo court during the Mongol invasions of the 13th-century, and the site of numerous battles with western powers in the late 19th-century. Numerous national treasures, relics, and monuments reside on the island, including stone dolmens dating back to the first millennium B.C.E. Ganghwa Island is also directly across from North Korea, with parts of the island giving an interesting glimpse into the “Hermit Kingdom”. There are also tons of other smaller islands off the coast of the city, such as Jawolmyeon, Sido, Deokjeok, and Baengnyeong-do, all accessible by local ferries, each with large, clean beaches.

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