What pops in your head when you hear the word cave? Is it a cold, mysterious and dark chamber that nature has moulded throughout the passage of time? Perhaps an exciting and interesting place to explore for some hidden treasures? Whatever it may be, one specific cave in South Korea will most likely entertain both of these ideas. Often called a “must-visit,” Gwangmyeong Cave has been a popular attraction for many visitors for almost a decade. From its history, beautiful decorations and impressive lighting to various attractions and activities - the cave has many things to offer. If you would like to escape the city and sneak into a mysterious wonderland, then follow along to know more about the Gwangmyeong Cave!
Although now successfully booming, the Gwangmyeong Cave wasn’t always a tourist attraction. It was first established in 1912 during the rule of Imperial Japan and made into a mine where Korean miners had to gather large amounts of gold, silver, iron and copper in harsh conditions. Now there are sculptures and installations in the cave showing its history. After liberation, the cave became a shelter during the Korean War and its resources were used for the development of the Korean economy when the war ended. The cave was abandoned for about forty years until it was reopened as a cultural park that people know today.
Before you enter the cave you can expect to see many lights, colors, shapes and patterns on the rocky walls, art and even some melodic background music playing as you make your way deeper into the cave. Take a short walk through the Wind Road corridor adorned with colorful LED flowers on one side while listening to the sounds of clear underground water flowing on the other. Once you reach the main cavern,Wormhole Square, it’s quite easy to go to every other attraction of the cave.
Look out for a tunnel called Light Space because this is one of the most popular places to take a great photo. It would be almost impossible to count all of the tiny colorful light bulbs that twinkle in the dark. There are more lights waiting for you at the end of the tunnel, but don’t worry—this time it’s a pond with impressive LED light sculptures.
If you suddenly miss the greenery on the surface, the cave has an indoor plant factory which grows various plants and vegetables using artificial sunlight. The vegetables that are grown underground are prepared and served to customers at the cave’s wine restaurant, Maru de Cave. Because of the fixed temperature in the cave, the wine there is preserved very well, so after some wine tasting, you can choose your favorite bottle to take home as a souvenir or order it at the restaurant.
Another very popular attraction in the cave is a 41-meter-long dragon, resembling the one called Smaug from The Hobbit. Right below him, feeling right at home sits a sculpture of Sméagol looking somewhere into the distance. This seems like a great place to be for fans of J.R.R.Tolkien and Lord of the Rings! Right at the center of the dragon, there is a 3.6-meter-high artificial Golden Waterfall. Because the cave used to be a gold mine, there are many gold-like spaces installed for the visitors to experience, such as the Golden Palace or the Golden Cave full of imitations of gold.
Besides the places mentioned above, there are many fishes swimming in illuminated tanks in the Cave Aqua World, museums, a horror experience, a marvelous performance hall and fun activities and playgrounds for children. Do you think you are ready for this adventure? Seek out the mysterious paths lit up by glowing flowers and unmoving creatures mixing together with the natural elements of the cave. Explore the idea of looking for a hidden treasure, as each turn and each path gifts you a new experience. Take a warm jacket, a camera and a friend, and explore the lights in Gwangmyeong Cave together!
Written by Ruta Balzekaite