One of Korea’s more popular travel guides is finally available in print. Written by veteran travel blogger Chris Backe, Weird and Wonderful Korea covers over 100 destinations across the Korean peninsula, and is well organized into dozens of itineraries.
‘I finished the book and released the ebook version before leaving Korea,’ Backe said by e-mail, who is currently living and traveling around Thailand. The book covers all sorts of whacky and interesting sites off the beaten path in Korea including a sculpture park full of decades-old retired art, a park dedicated to faithful dogs, and a Buddhist temple with over 10,000 plastic Buddhas.
For Backe, finding the unusual and bizarre places across Asia became more than a hobby.
‘After a couple years of traveling around Korea, I began wondering what else there was to see around Korea. I read other people’s travel blogs, looked at mainstream travel guides, and dived into government websites and maps. I found a lot of curious places, some unknown to my Korean friends,’ he said.
Over the course of the next three years, he began to focus his travels on the more unusual places around the country. One focus of the book is similar to his blog, he said. ‘Giving good, clear directions to the destination is something most guidebooks struggle with,’ noting limited space as one reason.
Another focus in the book is linking destinations that are close to each other. ‘Itineraries are put together by location, but tourists looking to group places by theme can use the index and make their own itineraries,’ Backe noted.
After initially releasing Weird and Wonderful Korea in ebook format, Backe decided to give a shot at printing it.
‘This is a 330 page paperback, printed entirely in color. Amazon’s printing company, CreateSpace, would have cost about $24 (26,732 won) just to print the book,’ he said. Lulu, another popular self-publishing platform, would have cost $67.55 (75,237 won) to print a single copy.
Backe ended up working with a company called Lightning Source, which prints books on demand for publishers of all sizes. ‘Black and white is much cheaper, but the color photos make the book that much more fun to read,’ Backe said.
Backe is now working on his fifth book, an as-yet-untitled book about Thailand’s unusual destinations, and Daytrippable, a travel startup highlighting fascinating places around the world.
‘The world’s a great place to see, and people that stick to the well-beaten path are only seeing a small portion of it.’
The print version is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for $19.99 (22,264 won). The ebook version is available on Amazon for $9.99 (11,127 won), and also as a PDF. Korean retailer What the Book also has it listed in their online store, and ships across Korea for free.
Further reading: Ten Weird Tourist Attractions in South Korea (Chincha)