From the capital, Seoul, you can be at some of the smaller resorts – Jisan Forest and Yangji Pine – in an hour. However, Gangwon-do Province, northeast of Seoul, has the most resorts, including YongPyong, the country’s most popular ski area. YongPyong (Dragon Valley) was Korea’s first ski area. Built in 1975 it still reflects the style of past dynasties, with its gondola top station in the style of a pagoda. There are fast chairlifts, a long conveyor belt serving the baby slopes and the supersize half pipe, and the 3.7km gondola up Mt. Balwang. From the airport it’s three-and-a-half hours, a beautiful drive along the Han River and past downtown Seoul.Accommodation is at the Dragon Valley Hotel, condos and youth hostels.
YongPyong is a moderate-sized resort, with runs that simply race downward. And off-piste isn’t allowed. With a base height of only 700m, snow – reliable not prolific – stays put in the November-March season thanks to sub-zero temperatures. Fourteen chairs serve a clutch of beginner and low intermediate slopes at the base and harder options in three separate areas. From 1,458m Dragon Peak the views to the East Sea are stupendous, before a three-mile blast down. There’s night skiing and the ski school has English speakers. It’s a place for decent skiers who don’t expect too much. Where it really scores is lifestyle. Korean food involves lots of fish, soup and pickled veg, a snip at around £10 for lunch (there are pizzas and hotdogs, if you must). At night in the hotel a similar blowout is £20. A half-bottle of local rice wine costs £12. On the slopes stalls sell grilled corn and roast chestnuts. Nightlife means good restaurants, bars… and karaoke.