People love cheese. People love amusement parks. You might think those two statements are unrelated, and you’d be wrong. Because in South Korea’s North Jeolla Province, there’s a theme park entirely devoted to cheese. If you’ve got a serious cheese habit, it might be time to book a vacation.
The Ismil Cheese Theme Park sits on 32 acres, and since 2004 it’s been South Korea’s go-to destination for cheese lovers. Why a whole park devoted to cheese? Until a few decades ago, cheese was pretty much unknown in the country. But since it was introduced in 1967, it’s become one of the country’s most popular foods.
Imsil County is the epicenter of the South Korean cheese industry, and it’s also the first place in the country where cheese was ever manufactured. The history of cheese in South Korea goes back to 1964, with a Belgian priest named Didier t’Serstevens After noticing the region’s lack of economic opportunities, t’Serstevens, (known in South Korea as Ji Jeong-hwan, or “Father Ji”), wanted to teach the people of Imsil County a marketable skill. He had recently received a gift of two goats from another priest, so he decided to teach cheesemaking.
After several years of trial and error, including a months-long trip to France to learn cheesemaking from the experts, Father Ji created the first Imsil cheese. Since then, cheese’s popularity exploded, and chefs have been adding it to several traditional Korean dishes.
Today, the Imsil Cheese Theme Park receives about 200,000 visitors a year.
The Imsil Cheese Theme Park is modeled after the Swiss village of Appenzeller, home to a type of hard cow’s milk cheese that dates back at least 700 years. At the park, you enjoy several cheese-themed attractions. First and foremost, you can learn how to make cheese yourself–these kids are making mozzarella.
There are exhibits that tell the history of cheese in South Korea.
Buildings shaped like giant wheels of cheese.
Plenty of statues of cows.
And statues of mice, which are distinct enough to avoid copyright lawsuits from certain other theme parks.
Imsil isn’t really about the rides, but does have an area for kids to play around in. It’s more of a souped up playground.
And of course, there’s plenty of cheese to eat.
So if you’re a diehard cheese fiend, it might be time to make the pilgrimage to the cheesiest place on Earth. Your stomach will thank you.
h/t: LAD Bible