What the heck’s a taeguk? – or, how I rate destinations

If you’ve seen my taeguk ratings on my Destination posts, you probably recognize the simple five-star scale on several different characteristics. But what the heck’s a taeguk?

From the concept of Taiji comes yin and yang – a swirl of blue (representing earth) and red (for heaven). This symbol is in South Korea’s flag, through a third swirl of yellow (representing man) is added as a variation. That’s the variation you’ll see on some palaces and around town, so I chose that one to rate destinations.

My ratings are of course subjective, though I try to stay open-minded and considerate of individual circumstances.The four areas I rate are:
  • Ease to arrive – this is not a question of distance from home to destination; it’s about the ability to find the place. So what if it’s a walk – do you know which way you’re walking? Are the maps placed in the subway station correct? What about the directions in official publications? Five taeguks in this category means a place is easy to get to, easy to find the entrance, and easy to navigate the trip there; one taeguk means the place is very difficult to find without a lot of help.
  • Foreigner-friendly – I don’t want to be patronized; by foreigner-friendly I’m referring to the ability to experience the place. Are there English-language brochures or signs, or are the only explanations in Korean? Does the place seem welcoming to foreign tourists, or do they sneer at them? Five taeguks in this category means a place has plenty of information that’s easy to understand; one taeguk means there’s little to nothing for the foreigner to understand or learn from.
  • Convenience facilities – Walking around and exploring can get thirsty or tiring; thankfully, most places offer restrooms, convenience stores, rest areas, and the like. This rating asks if what you need to enjoy this place is readily available. Are the facilities clean, well-stocked, and reasonably priced? I certainly don’t expect every modern-day accessory at the top of a rugged mountain trail, but a bottle of water at the bottom of the hill isn’t too much to ask. Five taeguks in this category means you’re never too far away from what you need; one taeguk means you’re left wanting for everything.
  • Worth the visit – Some places will come highly recommended, while others are not worth the time and effort to reach. Elements considered in this category include interesting things to see, do, or experience, the uniqueness of the place, and so on. Five taeguks in this category means it merits a special trip just to see this place; one taeguk means it’s barely worth mentioning except as a cautionary tale for the search engines to enjoy.

For the fun of it, I occasionally create another category and rate the place based on a five taeguk scale. You’ll figure it out.