South Korea: Earth's Hidden Wilderness




An ancient mountain kingdom.

A land divided by conflict.

But in the natural world,

there is another side to Korea.

In the south are pockets

of untouched wilderness.

Rich habitats...

..with extraordinary creatures...

..and spectacular natural events.


A place where nature and mankind

have lived in harmony for centuries.

This is Korea.

Korea lies on the eastern edge

of Asia.

The peninsula is 700 miles long

and 150 miles across...

..and is split into two nations.

But long before modern conflict

divided the land...

..tectonic plates collided

to create a dramatic landscape.

60 million years ago,

unimaginable forces raised

the jagged peaks that dominate

the east of Korea.

In the central region are lush,

temperate forests.

Further south, these give way

to fertile wetlands.

And where the land

finally meets the sea,

the shallow incline

creates vast tidal ranges...

..with endless mudflats...

..teeming with life.

Korea is surrounded

on three sides by ocean.

It has over 5,000 miles

of coastline.

In the far south,

the islands of Jeju

are home to a resident population

of Indo-Pacific bottlenosed


Dolphins are often wide-ranging...

..travelling from place to place

in search of food.

But this group chooses

to live here all year round,

in the bountiful waters

around these volcanic islands.

Bottlenose dolphins are highly

social creatures...

..and live in tight-knit

matriarchal pods.

Group members

communicate constantly.

Each dolphin is identified

by its own signature whistle.

And they are quick to recognise

the presence of any strangers

in their territory.

Today their curiosity is piqued

by a presence here that is almost

as ancient as their own.

Dolphins can be wary of divers,

but not of this one.

Like them, she dives free,

exploring the depths

on a single breath.

The pods have grown up

sharing these waters

with an all-female

free diving community...

..known as the Haenyeo,

sea women.

She scours the sea bed in search

of its natural treasures.

They live in harmony,

as they have done for hundreds

of years.

Soon the season will change,

and these waters will be filled

with prizes for the Haenyeo.

300 miles north,

on the Korean mainland...

..the palaces of the Joseon kings... imposing legacy of the

powerful dynasty

that once ruled here.

But the palaces are now home

to a family of a different kind.

A family of raccoon dogs.

Though they are named

for their resemblance,

they are much more closely related

to dogs than they are raccoons.

This opportunistic family have left

their usual forest dwelling

for the safety

of the palace grounds.

For the most part,

life is good here.

But they're not the only ones

to take advantage

of the opportunities here.

There is a rival group that occupies

the other side of the

palace grounds.

With young pups, the family's

father must be extra vigilant.

At around four months old, pups

learn to forage for themselves.

But hunting insects requires

a little practice.

Raccoon dogs will eat

almost anything.

Tonight the family is anticipating

something extra-special

on the menu...

..cicada nymphs.

A lavish banquet of juicy beetles.

The nymphs emerge en masse during

a narrow window in the summer.

For one night only, the family will

have more food than they can eat.

The nymphs have spent five years

slowly growing in the soil.

They must now find higher ground...

..where they can metamorphosise

into their flying form.

Such rich rewards

attract hungry rivals.

A pack of young males from the far

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"South Korea: Earth's Hidden Wilderness" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 18 Sep. 2020. <>.

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