Photo: Surfing in Gangwon-do. Credit: Public domain.
A persistent issue in South Korea is the concentration of everything in Seoul. Because the capital is home to most of Korea’s best universities and largest corporations, Seoul vacuums up human capital while leaving the rest of the country out to dry.
But recently, the mountainous Gangwon-do Province 강원도, on the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula, has been bucking this trend. From January to October 2021, Gangwon-do gained 4,552 new residents, when most of the non-Seoul areas were losing population.
Yonsei University 연세대학교 Professor Mo Jong-rin 모종린 noted that major Gangwon-do cities like Yangyang 양양 and Gangneung 강릉 have found their own identities that made them attractive to new residents: Yangyang as Korea’s surfing capital, and Gangneung as the leader of South Korea’s coffee culture.