July 31, 2013

Welcome to Naminara Republic

A micronation is a self governing entity which has declared independence but not received formal recognition from established nations. Nami Island was purchased by a Korean business mogul, who promptly declared it to be a culturally independent state known as Naminara Republic. There is even a faux immigration counter at the entrance to the ferry boarding gates. The micronation even has its own flag, national anthem, postage stamp, and currency (although the Korean won is widely accepted).

The Naminara Republic promotes a life of harmony with nature. Telephone lines and electricity cables all run underground so that they do not blemish the scenic view of the island. Famed as the location of several beloved Korean television dramas, a tree lined path stretches through the middle of the island. A lot of tourists from Southeast Asia visit Nami Island after having seen it as a backdrop in their favourite K-drama. I visited the popular site along with a Dutch guy and two Korean women. Naminarans share the same racist tendencies as their Korean cousins, as my white friend received a discount while the Koreans and I had to pay the full entrance fee.

The parking lot and welcome area from where to catch the ferry (or zipline) to the island is about an hour and a half drive from Seoul. As tradition dictates, we stopped for chicken at Chuncheon's dakgalbi street en route to Nami Island. Much to my dismay, my three friends showed great interest in cycling around the island as the primary activity of the day. Due to my underdeveloped motor skills I was relegated to the back seat of a tandem bicycle as we did a round of the half moon shaped isle, resulting in many terrifying experiences.


Full of the sweet fragrance of humanity
Nami is a destination out of a fairy-tale where we can make our dreams come true
Near the riverbank where moonlight scatters, hearts pour forth in the misty fog
Sharing thoughts on life with ostriches and squirrels, 
Here I put down heavy burdens of my heart
With the freedom to do or not to do
Here I try to find real me.

- The Naminara Manifesto