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A Complete Guide to Muju Deogyusan Resort: a Hidden Gem in South Korea

by John Buckley
December 28, 2023

Introduction

Muju Deogyusan Resort, more commonly referred to simply as Muju Resort, is located in Jeollabuk-Do (North Jeolla Province) in the south-central part of South Korea.

For those familiar with skiing in Korea, most of the popular resorts reside further north in Gangwon-Do or Gyeonggi-Do (provinces), where temperatures are lower and natural snow falls more often.

However, for those living in or visiting the southern parts of South Korea, Muju Resort is a great option to get out for some turns and avoid the Seoul crowds and long bus rides up north.

And that’s just what this English teacher who resides in Daegu did on a sunny afternoon in December 2023.

I’ve skied many of the top resorts in Korea and have plans to write a larger, countrywide roundup article.

However, after conducting the very scientific “Colorado Vibes Check,” I would rate Muju Deogyusan Resort at around Ski Cooper-level vibes.

No shade at either resort. They both seem to know who they are: small, funky, slightly off-the-beaten-path, laid-back resorts.

While they may lack high-end infrastructure, they make up for it with decent mountain terrain.

Which is fine, because if you’re skiing or riding in South Korea, you’re generally just out to enjoy a fun mountain experience in a uniquely interesting country.

If you’re reading this from abroad and planning a major storm-chasing adventure, I give you permission to stop reading this and Google: “Hokkaido,” “Hakuba,” or “Ski Japan.”

You’ll thank me for that later.

Muju Deogyusan Resort Review and Travel Guide

What follows is an “early-season” account, in that not all terrain was open (on December 27), but the information should hold true no matter what time of the ski season you visit.

Ticket Prices and Hours

The official English website provides information on Korean ski resort hours and ticket prices. However, choosing your best option can sometimes feel like solving the Good Will Hunting math equation.

Insider’s tip: You should be able to purchase your lift tickets directly from one of the rental shops (see next section) in town at discounted rates. I’m not sure if every shop does this, but ours did.

You have to pay by bank transfer (not credit card) to purchase a lift ticket outside of the resort ticket office.

We paid 44,000 KRW to ski from 9:00 to 1:30 by purchasing through our rental shop. Below are the official prices listed on the resort website.

Muju Deogyusan Hours and lift ticket prices

Hotels

Muju has a variety of hotels, pensions, and accommodations. In Korea, I find Agoda to be the best booking site.

The top-rated option on the site is the Muju Seolguk Pension (click image for details and bookings).

Location

As mentioned, if you are based in Gyeonggi-Do or the Seoul area, you will find closer resorts in the Gangwon-Do area.

That said, I rode the chairlift with two guys who had made the drive from Seoul for a work trip, and they told me that it took about 4 hours by car.

From Daegu, the drive took my little ski crew, which included my wife and dog, about 2 hours. This included a rest-stop pee break.

If you have your own car, figuring out time and distance should be easy enough with a navigation system from wherever your origin may be.

Navigation Address: 1299-1 Simgok-ri, Seolcheon-myeon, Muju-gun, Jeollabuk-do

For those without a car, I recommend that you ask a Korean co-worker or friend to help you find a bus tour package that goes to Muju Deogyusan.

There should be options that include bus transportation from your city, lift tickets, and equipment rentals at a surprisingly reasonable price.

I couldn’t find one specifically for Muju, but if you are interested in other Korean resorts, I highly recommend these Trazy Winter and Ski Tours.

Muju Resort Information

Ski Slopes: 21.8 km (13.5 miles)

Longest Run: Silk Road (6.1 km) (3.8 miles)

Chairlifts: 1 gondola, 12 chairlifts, 2 magic carpets

Base Elevation: 724 meters (2.375 feet)

Summit Elevation: 1,529 meters (5,016 feet)

Nearest Town Centers: Simgok-ri (심곡리) (3.2 km) Seolcheon-myeon (설천면) (3.2 km)

Muju Resort Trail Map

Muju Deogyusan Resort Trail Map

The Mountain and Terrain

Muju Deogyusan Resort caters to all skill levels.

  • Beginner: 4.8 km (22%)
  • Intermediate: 10.3 km (47%)
  • Expert: 6.7 km (31%)

Directly in front of the Manseon Base Area, you will find the Beginner’s Slope. For those uncomfortable with boarding a chairlift, there is a small learning area with a moveable magic carpet.

The Manseon Base Area also leads to the Boat and Yacht chairlifts, which both access the beginner’s Eastern trail.

I found the best intermediate trails at Muju off the Liner lift. During my early-season visit, I made some decent laps off of Liner because the upper mountain was still closed.

The slopes were not too crowded, and I opened it up and let it fly on the Sundown and Turbo slopes.

The Liner Lift also accesses the expert terrain of the Yamaga and Panorama runs, but they weren’t open during my December visit (I’ll address my thoughts on that later).

I also rode the Cruiser and Muju Express lifts a few times. However, don’t let those names fool you. Both lifts move woefully slow, and I felt like I spent more time sitting than skiing in that area.

In my opinion, you’re better off on Liner for some quick laps on decent terrain, with shorter lines at the bottom.

There is really no “backcountry” skiing in Korea (if you’ve found some, hit up my DM’s). Most resorts, however, have some pretty steep and icy slopes to put your carving skills to the test.

You can access the best expert trails at Muju by taking the Gondola and the Harmony and Melody chairlifts to Seolcheon Bong (Peak).

Note: This wasn’t open at the time of my visit in December 2023. However, it passed the eye test from afar.

I think it’s safe to assume it will be open if you visit beyond January, though I was unable to get a confirmed opening date.

If you want to check out what is open and see how it looks, the resort has these helpful live webcams.

Season and Snow Conditions

Muju officially lists the winter season as early December to mid-March. I discovered for myself that snow conditions may limit the terrain.

The following information is just provided by my general vibes and a nice conversation with a Korean gentleman who seemed to know his stuff.

Muju does not seem committed to, or perhaps doesn’t have the resources to, utilize snow-making capabilities to the full extent.

Snow conditions at Muju in December may limit the open terrain

Only a fraction of the trails had opened despite frigid temperatures the week before my arrival. Those that remained unopened did not appear close. The air during my visit was below freezing, and I didn’t see one snow gun blasting in the distance.

The gentleman on the lift with me chalked it up to global warming and a ski resort with limited resources.

All of that said, if you come in with a beggar’s can’t be chooser’s attitude, you’ll still have a great time.

Gear and Clothing Rentals

At Korean ski resorts, you will be able to rent everything from ski or snowboard equipment to fashionable snow suits to helmets and gloves.

You can take care of all of this at the base of the mountain if you join a package tour and arrive by bus.

If you’re driving in, I recommend stopping at one of the many ski shops that line the road in Seolcheon-Myeon (설천면), about 3 km from the base area.

We chose Top Ski (64 Manseon 1-ro, Seolcheon-myeon) quite honestly because it looked cool from the outside, but it also proved to be a great decision.

I usually hate rental gear, but Top Ski was a pleasant surprise

I’m a gear snob and am usually pretty upfront about my displeasure with the gear offerings at most Korean rental shops, much to my wife’s chagrin.

However, I was impressed by Top Ski‘s rental gear quality and condition. I’m never going to be happy when told that 168cm are the longest skis available, but I’m learning to live as a dinosaur in a new reality.

That said, the Atomic Race SL skis that they set me up with were new and in great condition. This could be due to the early-season visit, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

In all of my snobbery, I purchased my own ski boots this year. However, I was amazed at the high-quality Atomic ski boots Top Ski put my (beginner) wife in.

They were not the typical rear-entry clunkers that drove me to buy my own. In fact, I might say they were “too good” for her skill level.

Take my Top Ski recommendation for what it’s worth. That said, as you drive into town, you’ll come across a number of shops.

You can choose one that strikes your fancy, as we did.

We got set up with some great gear at Top Ski, about 3km from the base of Muju Deogyusan Resort

Parking and Base Operations

Once you pass through the little town of Seolcheon-Myeon, it’s about another 3 kilometers to the base of the mountain.

If you’re on a bus package tour, you’ll be dropped off right at the base and helped to get set up with gear and lift tickets.

If you drive in, parking can be a bit confusing at first. Keep in mind that Muju may be more famous with Koreans for Deogyusan National Park, and there are plenty of people who arrive with no plans to ski.

Therefore, there are a series of lower parking lots that lead to a gondola that allows foot traffic. Upon arrival, we first parked down there until I noticed that none of the people exiting their cars had ski equipment.

So, we jumped back in the car and headed further up the road to the actual Manseon Base Area. If the lots right at the base seem full, just keep driving up the mountain a bit.We did just that and found a nice (free) parking lot with room to spare.

It was also slopeside, so I was able to boot up right at the car and ski down to the base lifts. Remember, we purchased our lift tickets from the ski rental shop, but if you don’t go that route, the ticket window is at the base on the roadside.

Enjoying an early season, sunny day at the base of Muju Deogyusan Resort
We were able to park our car next to the base area.

Dining Options

Muju Deogyusan Resort, like most Korean ski resorts, offers a number of simple dining options. You will find the most variety at the Manseon Base Area, along with several on-mountain dining options.

It’s generally a relatively simple affair (compared to Western ski resorts) offering Korean standards such as hot dogs, gimbap, ramyeon, and pizza.

The food won’t knock your socks off, but it also won’t cost you $50 like it does at American resorts.

Korea is also famous for convenience store food (IYKYK), and you will easily find a CU, GS25, or 7-11 at the base area.

The mountain also features Heidi House, atop the Liner Lift. On Seolcheonbong Peak, you will find Seolcheongbong Restaurant and Dolce Snack Bar.

The menus are pretty standard Korean ski area snack food fare.

Heidi House mid-mountain chalet on Muju Deogyusan Mountain
Outside Heidi House at mid-mountain Muju Resort

Apres Ski

In Korea, you won’t find the typical “apres ski” bars that you may be accustomed to in the West. It’s a much more subdued affair in Korea.

If you have resort accommodations, the best you can really hope for is a few cheeky beers at the base pizza restaurant or stocking up on “mart beers” and taking the party to your room.

I will recommend a great café serving a delicious breakfast if you are driving your own car.

When our ski day was finished, we drove about 10 minutes to Camp Brunch (캠프런치).

1262-4 Gucheondong-ro, Seolcheon-myeon, Muju-gun, Jeollabuk-do

Outside, dog-friendly, Camp Brunch Café

They serve an American-style breakfast in a relaxing atmosphere. If you brought an energetic dog, there is a nice river below to blow off some steam.

Camp Brunch, near Muju Deogyusan Resort is cozy and dog-friendly

Final Thoughts

When putting my final thoughts together on my overall opinion of Muju Deogyusan Resort, my mind kept drawing me to lyrics from an old Gin Blossoms song.

“If you don’t expect too much from me, you might not be let down.” Hey Jealousy (1992)

I grew up in Vail, Colorado, but have lived in South Korea since 2007. It took me awhile, but I’ve learned to embrace the joy of just getting out for some turns and spending time with my friends and family.

If you can adopt that attitude, you’ll have a great time at any resort in Korea.

It will also cost you just a fraction of what you may be used to spending to ski or ride back home.

Family fun at the base of Muju Deogyusan Resort
Family fun at the base of Muju Deogyusan Resort

TLDR: Highlight Reel Video

Muju Resort: A Dog’s Perspective Video

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Border Collie Life in South Korea

John Buckley

Welcome to Colorado Saram! I'm from the ski resort town of Vail, but now I live in South Korea with my wife Lucy and dog, Winnie. I continue to live and value the Colorado lifestyle, but I do so while following my passion for international travel. I write about skiing, hiking, traveling, and more. I hope you'll find this helpful, and please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.