Martin Symington finds the ultimate winter wonderland in Pyeongchang, the Daily Mail reports.

Yikes, I am on a bus in South Korea, just a medium-range lob from the border with Kim Jong-un's crazed North. But you wouldn't guess it here in the winter Wonderland of Pyeongchang.

We snake under a bridge of five giant Olympic rings sculpted from packed snow.

Like hundreds of other people on the mountain road up from Seoul, 112 miles away, I have ski slopes in my sights.

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Soon the eyes of the world will be on the pistes, half-pipes and rinks of Pyeongchang, South Korea, when the XXIII Olympic Winter Games start here on February 9.

Jamie Prebble is Team New Zealand's ski cross hopeful at Pyeongchang. Photo / Getty
Jamie Prebble is Team New Zealand's ski cross hopeful at Pyeongchang. Photo / Getty

Icy winds from Siberia slap me in the face as I arrive in Phoenix Park, one of several small resorts that make up Pyeongchang.

I share a high-speed, six-seater chairlift to the top of Taegisan mountain with female students. They say they're 'ski bunnies', which means they enjoy the wintry fun and partying more than the skiing.

Fervent fashionistas like all young Koreans, they seem to be able to hop, skip and jump through snow wearing platform high heels. Why isn't this an Olympic sport?

Koreans swell with pride at any mention of the games. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un won't spoil the party. Nor will the absence of the Russians, banned for state-sponsored doping.

I begin my visit in the intoxicatingly energetic capital, Seoul. Bleeping, flashing technology is everywhere. Take the loos, for example. Gadgets control everything from seat temperature to strength of bidet spray.

Soon I notice glimpses of old Seoul entwined with the new-fangled: tranquil Buddhist temples and beautiful gardens hidden down narrow back streets. The focal point is still the Gyeongbokgung 'Palace of Shining Happiness' rebuilt in 2010 so splendidly I might have believed it was the 14th-century original.

Intoxicatingly energetic: the Korean capital, Seoul has been swept away by the Winter Olympics. Photo / Getty
Intoxicatingly energetic: the Korean capital, Seoul has been swept away by the Winter Olympics. Photo / Getty

The K Pop music genre that exploded with Gangnam Style is a better recognised Korean export than Samsung or Hyundai. But the Gangnam style I see consists of teenagers flitting from clothes shops to milkshake bars dressed in identical outfits. I ask one pair why. 'To show how much we're in love,' they say in unison.

Like every Korean I meet, these youngsters are polite to a fault. Put Seoul on your travel wish-list — and head for the slopes while there. You'll feel like a champion.

Travel Facts

Korean Air (koreanair.com) flies direct to Seoul from Auckland from NZ$1739 return