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 peafowl. The island gained further popularity during the first Korean Wave 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 to attract more visitors. Today, it has its own immigration office (ticket counter), post office, passports (annual pass), stamps and currency—available for exchange with Korean won at the Tourist Information Center—as well as original pictographs called namijja.
Know Before You Go
The nearest station is Gapyeong, about 10 minutes away by taxi.