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Camping: A Skyrocketing Trend

   
 

It has only been a short while since many Koreans have begun working five days a week. Because of this changing working pattern, people have started to enjoy their weekends outside of the downtown area. People have started to put more emphasis on their leisure time and camping is starting to lure more and more people. In camping, people can enjoy nature and it can be a healing experience for contemporary people, who deal with a great amount of stress due to busy work schedules and a hectic work pace on daily basis.

According to one owner of a camp ground, the number of people who have been reserving camp sites on the weekends has skyrocketed. For instance, the camp ground inside Seoul Grand Park, which consists of 150 camp sites, is already fully booked for the next two weekends. Nowadays, people are also trying a new type of camping, which is different from what could be called ‘original’ camping. This new type of camping is called 'day camping' due to the aspect that it does not require spending a night inside a tent. In this article, the reasons for the popularity of camping, the different types of camping, and the various industries related to camping will be discussed.

First, camping-related industries are developing. According to the reports of one of the most well known camping companies, Coleman, the profits of their sales have been increasing dramatically from ten billion to more than thirty billion won.  Oh Ik-keun, a professor of hotel management of Keimyung University, says the development of the camping industry will increase from 70 billion in 2008 to 400 billion this year.

As the camping market is growing, there are various new camping goods that attract more people. Not only can people buy camping equipment like tents or camping chairs, but also outdoor clothes, camping cars, and camping food markets are emerging.  In case of the camping car markets, there have only been imported camping cars and sales were limited due to the cars being very expensive. However, to meet the increasing demand of consumers, Hyundae has developed the Grand Starex camping car, which is half the price of the imported ones.

Also, brand new camping food is being produced.  Starting with CJ's Dadam, they produce various types of Korean traditional soup, which can be cooked by just pouring hot water.  There are also many kinds of sausages that can be cooked on barbeque grill. To lure campers, CJ is promoting their products in different camping spots all over the nation. Following the trend, other food enterprises such as 'Samyang' and 'Ourhome' are developing various camping foods, like Bibimbap sauce and packed soups.

Additionally, there are many shops and websites where people can borrow camping equipment if they do not wish to purchase new items.  Websites like 'Camping Baksa' and 'Camping Korea’ lend camping equipment to consumers at reasonable prices.

Why are these enterprises investing in the camping industry? Only a few years ago, camping was still very new to Koreans and was considered an expensive leisure activity designed for the rich. However, now that camping equipment can be owned for relatively cheaper prices, people are willing to spend reasonable money to camp and can also enjoy the trend. Also, unlike other expensive accommodations, like pensions and hotels, which cost between 60,000 won to 200,000 won, booking a camping spot is far cheaper, although the prices do vary from camp ground to camp ground running from between 15,000 won to 29,000 won. In addition, with the increase in the number of camp grounds near Seoul, people are now able to camp with their friends and family on the weekend, without worrying about their workday fatigue.

According to an interview with Kim Jin-kyu, a member of the 2030 Camping Club, he was very satisfied with all of his camping experiences. The reason why he started camping is that he has loved and enjoyed nature since he was a child. Due to his hectic work life, he was always tired and exhausted. To solve this problem, he chose to go camping to give himself some time to rest and recall his pleasant childhood memories. 

There are several ways one can enjoy camping. Besides the original overnight camping, there is day camping, auto-camping, and camping at restaurants. The two most common ways are original camping and visiting a camping restaurant. Original camping is the mostly well known way of camping to people. These campers go to a camping spot and spend the night at the camp ground. People bring their own equipment or can borrow them.

Two of the most famous camp grounds are placed near Seoul. The first one is Seoul Grand Park Natural Camp Ground. It is located in Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon. Here, 150 camps are already set up, thus people do not need to bring their own tents. Also, near this camping spot, there is a rental shop and people can borrow most of the camping equipment they desire, like mattresses and beds. It costs 15,000 won to use the camp site between 1 p.m. to 11 a.m. for overnight stays. The other famous camping spot is Nanji Camp Ground, which is located near Sang-am World cup stadium. Since there are many surrounding facilities, such as Sky Park and Nanjicheon Park, the campers can easily visit these places. Also, because it is located in Seoul, it is easier to access the camp ground compared to other camping areas. In the case of Nanji, it costs 15,000 won for people to bring their own tents, and 29,000 won for tent renters.

There are also a variety of camping themed restaurants. In 'I'm aCamper' located in Hongdae, there are a number of tents installed inside the restaurant and people can enjoy their meal in the tent. According to an interview with a customer at the camping restaurant, she visits the restaurant because it is hard to go camping on weekdays. Thus when she wants to go camping on weekdays, she simply visits the camping restaurants with her family or friends to enjoy the ambiance inside the restaurant. Except the fact that she cannot barbeque her own meat, she is very satisfied with the camping restaurant. Another camping restaurant is 'Barbeque & Camp' in Mok-dong. Unlike  ‘I'm  Camper,’ there are no tents but camping chairs and camping heaters installed and they offer disposable chopsticks and paper cups just like you would use while camping. Additionally visitors can barbecue their own meat on a charcoal fire.

It is now May and there are lots of ways to enjoy the mesmerizing weather of spring. Flowers are blooming and the weather is getting warmer. In fact, this is exactly the kind of weather that is great for camping. If you want to try something new and wish to avoid the cliche places like cafes or movie theaters, why not try camping with your friends or family near Seoul this coming weekend?

Lim Su-mi  chloe90@dongguk.edu

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