Winter is almost over in Korea but for all of us Game of Thrones fans, Winter is coming. Before there will be clamor and brouhahas for the upcoming Season 6 of GOT, let me ride in the front seat of the bandwagon by talking about the TV series in this blog. Technically, it’s not really about the storyline and whatnot, no need to worry about spoilers, if there are spoilers, it is completely unintentional and minimal. You know what I mean?
I decided to talk about the comparison of the Peninsula of Korea to Westeros or the Seven Kingdoms, a place where most of the actions in Game of Thrones take place. But of course, we should all know that while Korea is real, the continent of Westeros is from the imagination of George RR Martin. If there are of any similarities, I am speaking in behalf of the author that these are all just coincidence
What really triggers me to write about this is the uncanny similarity of the map of Westeros to the map of South Korea. It is not perfectly the same, but I don’t know, if I look at the map of Westeros, it really reminds me of the map of Korea, that rabbit looking island in the map of the world, but maybe it’s just me. You be the judge!
|Left: Map of Korea
Right: Map of Westeros (Seven Kingdoms)
Let’s start with The North! In Game of Thrones, when you say NORTH, you are actually equating it to the castle of Winterfell of House Stark. Although there are other houses in the North, Winterfell stands out because some of the most important characters in the series live here. In fact, the place plays a vital role in the story line. Since House Stark is in the North, I can’t think of any other places in Korea to associate it with aside from the northernmost city of South Korea which is PAJU.
|Left: City of Paju
Right: The North: Cast of Winterfell of House Stark
Just like The North, Paju is also quite isolated. I mean, it’s not literally isolated, it’s still part of South Korea but because of the distance, going to Paju is just like going to a whole new world. I know it too well because I lived there for 2 years. Those were the days when going to Seoul was really an effort. The House of Stark in The North is very traditional and pays respect to their Gods. The people of Paju, as per my observation, are also very traditional. Despite the modernization, you can still see the Korean old ways especially with the elderly. The Wall is located in The North, their protection against the wildlings and the white walkers. Paju on the other hand has DMZ, a heavily guarded area to protect South Korea from North Korea.
Therefore, The Wall in Game Of Thrones is just like the same as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of South Korea. Unlike in GOT where there is a literal big, sturdy and strong walls, DMZ has barbed wires.
|Left: The Barbed Wire at DMZ
Right: The Wall at The North
However, beyond the barbed wires of DMZ and The Wall, is a very dangerous arena. You could die if you go beyond the area. In The Wall, there are “Night’s Watch”, but in DMZ, there are ROK armies. Both were recruited and well trained to hold and guard the area.
In GOT, there are horrors “Beyond the Wall”. There are wildlings who wish nothing but the destruction of the Seven Kingdoms. They call themselves Free Folks, they are savage and primitive raiders. There are also White Walkers, Children of the Forest and giants. Really, it’s a dangerous place. Oh wait, did I say DANGEROUS? Well, in Korea, there’s North Korea. Just like Beyond the Wall, nobody wants to go there because there’s an entity named Kim Jeung-Un. Ok, nuffsaid.
|Left: view of North Korea from DMZ
Right: View from The Wall
Let’s move a little bit and go to other places in Westeros. Presenting The Vale of Arryn where a castle called The Eeyrie of House Arryn stands.
|Left: at the Garden of the Calm Morning in Gapyeong
Right: The Eeyri in The Vale of Arryn
The location of the The Vale of Arryn is characterized as a fertile land nestled within the great range of the Mountains of the Moon. Although the TV series did not really show it as a very high place, in the book version, people can hardly go to The Eeyrie castle because 1) it is heavily guarded and 2) it’s so high you could risk your life going there. There’s no risky place in Korea I could associate this place with but for the level of elevation, I guess the city of Gapyeong is perfect for this. Gapyeong is a beautiful city in the mountain. It is far from Seoul and you must really make an effort if you want to go there. But just like The Vale of Arryn, you can view the beautiful place from the top, plus tourist destinations like Nami Island, Petite France and The Garden of the Morning Calm are located there.
Another amazing place in Westeros is The Riverlands that holds the castle of Riverrun of House Tully. This is a Kingdom of rivers and hills, it’s a small but populous place. The trees and plants in this area are healthy because of its fertile land, thanks to the numerous rivers that run across its stretch.
|Left: Yangpyeong, South Korea
Right: The castle of Riverrun in Riverland
The only place in South Korea that I can associate this with is Yangpyeong. When I went to Yangpyeong for rail biking, I saw how their land was so fertile judging from the plants and trees and crops that grow there. And the river, it’s just awesome.
Now off to The Westerlands, where the castle of Castelry Rocks of House Lannister stands. The Westerlands is consists of a landscape of hills and valleys. This place is very rich in natural resources. It’s just a small Kingdom and mountainous but rich in metal, a perfect place for mining.
|Left: Rocks in Danyang
Right: The Casterly Rock in Westerland
I don’t know where to get gold and silver in South Korea, but because of the caves and a beautiful landscape of the area, I guess Danyang is a place that we can associate with The Westerlands. The rivers, the hills and the breathtaking view of the valley is something you can look forward to when visiting Danyang.
Let’s now go to The Iron Island where you can see the castle of Pyke of House Greyjoy. I think Pohang is the Iron Island of South Korea. Why? Because 1) they are both rocky island. 2) not too crowded. 3) land is barely fertile 4) surrounded by the sea and 5) Fishing is one big source of their economic production. The only difference between the two is, while the Iron Island is associated with the “Sunset” Bay, Pohang is known for its Homigot “Sunrise” Square.
|Left: At Pohang
Right: The Castle of Pyke at the Iron Island
And how about the King’s Landing? Well, obviously it’s Seoul! Do I need to say more? Well, location wise, they may not be the same, but the fact that it is the capital of the Seven Kingdom, I just thought that it will give justice if I assign this to Seoul. They’re both over populated, life in these cities is luxurious and most of all, this is where the ruler of the nation/Seven Kingdoms operate. Seoul has no slum like Flea Bottom in King’s Landing, not that I am aware of, but go to Seoul Station, you can see a lot of homeless people there, making it looks like a slum. So just like in King’s Landing, Seoul holds a crowded population and this is where rulers, rich, influential and poor people live all together.
|Left: Seoul. South Korea
Right: King's Landing
How about The Reach where the beautiful castle of Highgarden of House Tyrell stands? This is never to be underestimated because, take note of this, The Reach is one the richest Kingdom in all of Westeros. It is located in the Southern part of the Seven Kingdom, much like of Busan. Snowfall? It’s a strange thing to both Busan and The Reach. Compared to all other areas, these two enjoy the same warmer climate. The Reach acquired its wealth from their production from the fertile land while Busan is more on the production of fish and other seafood. Nevertheless, both of them are essential part of the nation in terms of economic development.
|Left: Busan, South Korea
Right: The castle of Highgarden in The Reach
And finally, one of the most interesting places in all of the Seven Kingdom, the Dorne where the castle of Sunspear of House Martell is located. The Kingdom is as interesting as the city of Gyeongju of South Korea.
|Left: Gyeongju, South Korea
Right: The Castle of Sunspear in Dorne
What makes Dorne and Gyeongju similar? Well, for one, they are both located in the Southern part of the nation. Although Gyeongju has no deserts just like Dorne, at least both consist of rocky mountains. But what is interesting about these two is that, walking in the city is just like walking in a museum. In the TV series, everywhere you look in Dorne is a piece of art, so much like in Gyeongju. Through this, you can really see the culture and tradition in every single corner of the city. In Geyongju and in Dorne, you can sense how they really value their so called “national identity”, and that what makes them identical.
I hope you were convinced in one way or another with this little comparison of mine. They may not completely the same, but location wise and characteristic wise, I think I was able to give justice to this comparison. But hey, this is a personal opinion, I could be wrong. The important thing is, Season 6 of Game of Thrones will soon commence!