Photo courtesy of Inje Speedium
Photo courtesy of Inje Speedium

Feeling the need for speed?: Korea is full of places for all to get their fix

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

Driving enthusiasts, I’ve found the perfect playground for you!

If you have the need for speed or are looking to get behind the wheel of a luxury automobile, South Korea’s BMW Driving Center is the place to go.

Try your hand behind the wheel of a BMW at the center’s professional driving training course. There’s also the M zone and showroom where you can see the latest cars, including the MINI, and motorbikes. And while you’re there, get into your favorite car to thoroughly check out the interior.

This is the third driving center BMW has built, with the other two being in Germany and the U.S. This place is big. All in all, the six driving tracks, showroom, restaurants and more are spread out over the equivalent of 33 football fields.

The center, which has plenty to do even if cars aren’t your thing, is 10 minutes from the Incheon Airport and an hour and 20 minutes from Camp Humphreys.

BMW Driving Center
M TAXI PROGRAM
Even if you don’t have an international driver’s license or are just looking for the thrill of riding in a high-performance car, I recommend the center’s M TAXI Program. Sit back and enjoy the thrill of a BMW M5 while a professional chauffer drives you around a track. Let the noise and smell of burning tires transport you into a drifting movie or video. It’s exciting! Children must be at least 55-inches tall to ride.

JCW TAXI PROGRAM
The JCW TAXI Program involves riding in a high-performance model MINI. Due to its size and horsepower, it is the most underrated offering at the center in comparison to the M TAXI (M5). But – if you ask me –there’s no question the MINI is the most fun-to-drive car I have ever ridden in. It is an ideal program to understand the performance of the front-wheel-drive car, and the well-adjusted suspension makes you feel very connected with the track as the car turns the corner. If the M TAXI Program is all booked, I think the JCW TAXI Program is a great alternative. Children must be at least 55-inches tall to ride.

Running time: 10 min.
Operating Hours: Tues. - Sun. 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. (Closed Mon., New Year’s Holidays)
Price: 20,000 KRW per person

NOTE: Book in advance, as there were quite a few people waiting, even though I went on a weekday morning. Don’t forget to bring your international driver’s license if you want to get behind the wheel.

BASIC PROGRAMS
The center also includes Challenge A, B and Off-Road Programs where you can learn about basic driving skills such as acceleration, braking, and handling. You can learn useful skills to react to unexpected road conditions. The course also provides an authentic off-road experience with banks, slopes and more. Personally, I didn’t find the fun in the off-road experience, but don’t let me discourage you from trying it.

ADVANCED PROGRAMS
If you have more than two years driving experience, the Advanced, Intensive and M Drift Programs might be suited for you. The Advanced promises the most bang for your buck. If you really enjoy the loud roar and peeling out in a fast car, choose M Drift.

NOTE: Due to winter road conditions, only the M TAXI and up at the end of February.


Photo by ChiHon Kim

Other tracks to hit
Inje Speedium
If you have enough skills to play on the race tracks, go straight to the circuit. Located in Inje-gun Kangwon-do region of Korea, Inje Speedium is about three hours from Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base. The track features significant elevation changes and the whole 2.6-mile course is shaped like a sea horse. It meets the global standards (Federation Internationale de L’Automobile -FIA Grade 2), allowing for all categories of motor racing. They also have a 134-room hotel where you can overlook the entire circuit and impressive 20,000-seat grandstand. Aside from enjoying car racing, visitors can soak in other parts of the Korean motorsports culture and have a blast at One-Stop Auto Theme Park. In the summer, you can also enjoy a variety of other activities such as river-bucking and 63-meter bungee jumping into the Naerin-cheon stream near the circuit.

In order to drive, you need to get a circuit license, which takes about two hours and costs 100,000 won. Things you need to bring for racing: International or domestic driver’s license (Military driver’s licenses are not accepted), a helmet, gloves, long-sleeved shirt and pants and running shoes. Helmet and gloves are available for rent, and fees vary by session and vehicle. Check out www.speedium.co.kr for more info.

Address: Inje International Circuit, 242-2 Buku-ri,  Girin-myeon, Inje-gun, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82 2 561 6990
Circuit type: Permanent road course
Getting there by car
Camp Humphreys to Inje International Circuit (2h 50 min.)
Osan Air Base to Inje International Circuit (2h 35 min.)
Getting there by bus
Pyeongtaek Intercity Bus Terminal →
Dong Seoul Bus Terminal →
Inje Bus Terminal → Inje speedium
About 6hours


Photo courtesy of Inje Speedium

Korea International Circuit
Located in Yeongam-gun, Jeollanam-do region of Korea, the Korea International Circuit (KIC) is the hybrid F1 circuit that is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base.

Unlike the majority of F1 circuits that are designed to run clockwise, the KIC runs counter-clockwise. It is the first circuit in Korea to meet the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA) Grade 1 standard. Inje Speedium located in Inje-gun, Kangwon-do meets the FIA 2 standard, which is a lower grade.

The circuit consists of two tracks –  an F1 grand prix track, which incorporates a partial street track, and a nearly two-mile permanent track. The total length of the circuit stretches nearly 3.5 miles, featuring an F1 pit building, control tower, media center, building for teams and  a grandstand holding up to 120,000 spectators. The track is regarded as a difficult circuit.

You’ll need to get a circuit license (about 150 min. and 100,000 won) if you want to drive on this circuit.

Things you need to bring for racing: International or domestic driver’s license (military driver’s license is not accepted), a helmet, gloves, long-sleeved shirt and pants and running shoes. Helmet and gloves are available for rent with fees that vary by session and vehicle.

Address: 2, Epeuwon-ro, Yeongam-gun, Jeollanam-do
Phone: +82-61-288-4207
URL: www.koreacircuit.kr
Getting there by car
Camp Humphreys to KIC (3h 16 min.)
Osan Air Base to KIC (3h 40 min.)
Getting there by train
Jije station to Mokpo station
(SRT train-1h 50 min., 38,600won)
→ Take a Taxi (35min /15000KRW) or bus (No.300 /1h30m / 2000 KRW)


Photo coutesy of KIC

Food
Terrasse, on the second floor of the building, is a restaurant where you can enjoy high-quality cuisine overlooking the race tracks. If you do a training program that takes a few hours, you’ll likely need some food while you’re there. Terrasse offers European dishes in a German atmosphere.

There’s also Hwanghae-haemul-kalguksu, only a 10-minute drive from the center. There, you’ll find great hot noodle soup with fresh seafood. (Address: 37, Masiran-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon)

And don’t forget to check out the Chinatown near Yeongjongdo Island while you’re in the area.


Photo courtesy of Hwanghae restaurant

Speakin’ Korean

Can I give you a ride?
- Taewo deuril kkayo?

Thank you for the ride.
- Taewo jusyeoseo gamsahapnida.

I have a flat tire.
- Peongkeuga nasseoyo.

Can you take me to  (place)?
- (place)kkaji taewo jullaeyo?

My car broke down.
- Nae chaga gojang nasseoyo.

I ran out of gas.
- Gireumi tteoreo jyeosseoyo.

Please fill it up.
- Gadeuk chaewojuseyo.

I had a car accident.
- Jeo chasago nasseoyo.

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