Naminara Republic – Gapyeong-gun, South Korea - Atlas Obscura

Naminara Republic

Gapyeong-gun, South Korea

This small island declared independence from South Korea in the hopes of attracting tourists. 

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Every micronation has its own reason for “independence.” Sometimes it’s resistance, sometimes it’s a prank, and sometimes it just happens. In the Naminara Republic’s case, it was simply to boost tourism.

Located in the city of Chuncheon, the crescent-shaped Nami Island, also known as Namiseom, was formed in the Han River as the result of the construction of a dam in 1943. In diameter, it is approximately 2.5 miles wide. Its name comes from General Nam Yi, whose body is believed to be buried somewhere on the island. Nam Yi died at the age of 28 after he was falsely accused of treason, during the reign of King Sejo, and was deified posthumously.

Nami Island is privately owned by a local company, and has been a popular tourist spot known for its rich nature since the 1960s. There are many free-roaming animals, including rabbits, squirrels, deer and ostriches. The island gained further popularity among East Asian people after it was featured in the hit TV drama Winter Sonata, but after a while the number of visitors declined.

In 2006, Namiseom declared its “cultural independence” from South Korea as the Naminara Republic. It has its own passports, stamps and coins, available at the Tourist Information Centers, as well as original pictographs called namijja.

Know Before You Go

The nearest station is Gapyeong, about 10 minutes away by taxi.

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