Tucked away in Korea’s southeast where Gyeongsangnam-do Province meets the sea, the city of Changwon is a place of eye-catching extremes.
While the provincial capital is known for mass production of the nation’s heavy industrial equipment from machinery to power plants, its rich natural assets are equally part of its character, including major ports and wetlands. Added to the mix is the city’s vibrant arts and culture scene, all of which taken together make it a unique place to visit. Presented below are just some of the ways Changwon and its surroundings can be enjoyed by incentive groups.
In 2012, the official Changwon city blog declared that “Changdong is coming alive again”, a reference to recent government efforts to revitalize Masan (one of Changwon’s three main districts)’s historic art quarter. Concentrated in three alleyways easily recognized by their strikingly-colorful wall murals, visitors today will find an eclectic assortment of street markets, handicraft and fashion stores, and restaurants. Cultural programs demonstrating Korean handicraft-making (eg – fabric dyeing, traditional paper, textiles, etc), body painting, and others can double as teambuilding activities and the creation of memorable souvenirs.
Look out for: artists making new creations in their studios while you watch.
Shopping: Unique Korean handicrafts, regional food specialties (eg – anchovies, deodeok [bellflower root], seaweed). Saturday visitors can enjoy the weekly village flea market.
BY CAR: About 25-30 minutes’ drive from CECO. About 50-60 minutes’ drive from Gimhae Airport.
Until someone invents time travel, the Maritime Filming Set in Masan may be the closest anyone gets to exploring a 2,000 year-old Korean port village. Designed to recreate the look and feel of a coastal village from the Gaya kingdom (circa CE 42-562 and site of modern-day Changwon), the roughly 10,000m² site regularly helps bring to life Korean historical television dramas. These include Kim Su-ro (2010), Warrior Baek Dong Soo (2011), and God of War(2012), to name a few. Among the waterfront wooden buildings with their distinctive sloping black-tiled roofs, visitors can expect to find such things as taverns, an ironmongers, and various other in-period features.
Look out for: Backdrops from your favorite dramas.
BY CAR: About 40 minutes’ drive from CECO. About 60 minutes’ drive from Gimhae Airport.
Haeinsa Temple, situated high in the mountains of Gayasan National Park northwest of Changwon, is well worth a visit both for its major role in Korean history and teambuilding opportunities. As with Buddhist philosophy, a journey to Haeinsa is part of the experience, as visitors follow a winding mountain trail filled with vendors and spectacular valley views. The temple itself, founded in CE 802, is best known for housing the Tripitaka Koreana,described by UNESCO as “the most complete collection of Buddhist texts, engraved on 80,000 woodblocks between 1237 and 1248”.
Haeinsa’s deep historical significance and remote position in the Gayasan mountains make its temple stay program highly recommended as an experience separated from the everyday world yet shared by group participants. The program is available on weekends for up to 35 persons at a time spanning two days and one night, during which time participants will follow the daily lives and activities of the temple monks. See here for a program schedule.
Look out for: a glimpse of the Tripitaka Koreana through the windows of Janggyeongpanjeong Hall at the temple’s apex; the spectacular beauty of the Hongryudong Valley and its flowing waterfalls – visible on the path leading to Haeinsa.
BY CAR: About 2 minutes’ drive from CECO. About 2 hours’ drive from Gimhae Airport.
BY BUS: About 3 hours from Masan Express Bus Terminal or Masan Intercity Bus Terminal, transferring at Goryeong/Daegu Bus Station and from there, taking a bus bound for Haeinsa.