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Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea

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Editorials 202311270000
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea

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Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea

Break out your backpack, South Korea is in the midst of a craze that’s changing the way its urban denizens connect with the great outdoors. Enter ‘Chabak’ (차박), a word that blends ‘cha’ (차) for car and ‘bak’ (박) for stay — or, in other words, ‘car camping’.


In fact, it’s not just a trend. It’s a lifestyle. For a nation that loves fusion in everything from food to fashion, Chabak provides a melding of mobility and nature, offering a unique and convenient escape from the hustle and bustle — and the Chabak phenomenon, its origins and its impact, has taken the nation by storm.

The comfort of home in the great outdoors

With four distinct seasons, South Korea inspires a robust outdoor culture. This small but significant peninsula is mostly mountainous with lush forests, picturesque coastlines and 22 national parks, which is remarkable for a country with a land mass comparable to the U.S. state of Indiana.


Outdoor enthusiasts in South Korea are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing their camping experience. The country offers a diverse range of camping grounds, with the majority suited for pitching a tent and the rest welcoming RVs, camping trailers and camper vans, allowing travelers to bring the comfort of home to the great outdoors.

Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
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Exploring Chabak
The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
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Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
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Chabak’s flexibility and accessibility has made it a hit among a wide variety of demographics. During the pandemic, families with young children and those who were unable to travel abroad found solace in the convenience and safety of car camping as it complied with the need for social distancing. With the activity becoming a cherished pastime as a result, many South Koreans are embracing the idea of easily escaping to secluded spots to enjoy the restorative power of the great outdoors.


The diversity among Chabak enthusiasts is one of its most striking aspects. Traditionally associated with an older demographic, car camping now attracts those in their 30s and 40s — Millennials and Gen X — reflecting its widespread appeal among an evolving society. Unlike a conventional camping trip, which might require a lot of gear and a significant time commitment, Chabak allows weekend warriors to embark on day trips (당일치기 or dangilchigi) or short stays at their convenience.

Gearing up for Chabak

A Chabak adventure can cut out a lot of the equipment required for conventional camping — it all depends on personal preference. However, a car tent that attaches to the rear of the vehicle, such as an SUV, can facilitate a more accommodating and comfortable mobile campsite. Just don’t forget to add a hanging net as defense against mosquitoes.


With Chabak, you don’t have to ‘rough it’ — you can have your own secure and cozy haven, but it’s possible to pack up more efficiently than a conventional camping set up.


Most aficionados will tell you that making a vehicle comfortable for lounging and sleeping is key. While some vehicles with fold-flat seating provide a completely level surface for sleeping, others require customization to ensure a flat floor (평탄화 or pyeongtanhwa).

Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
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Outdoor lifestyle
Elevating your Chabak experience
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Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
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Chabak enthusiasts go beyond the essentials though, adding plush mats or an inflatable mattress for a sound slumber, and pillows and a comforter for an enhanced camping experience. Many spruce things up with an Instagram-worthy aesthetic too, including fairy lights and flameless candles, and iconic fireside features such as a classic Stanley camp mug and Pendleton camp blankets.


This booming pastime is glamping’s trendy cousin, infusing the campsite with resort-style flair with flexible setups that can be packed away or unpacked with ease. If you’re thinking of car camping in an EV with vehicle-to-load functionality, an electricity supply provides further convenience, allowing you to elevate your Chabak game by bringing along a screen to sit and watch flames dance and listen to logs crackling on a campfire video (불멍 or bul-meong), a recent trend in South Korea.

Choose your own adventure

While many say that it’s not the destination but the journey that matters, selecting the right location is still vital to ensure a fulfilling Chabak experience. South Korea offers myriad options, but some stand out for their facilities more than others.


Seaside campsites are a popular choice. Many offer what those wanting to taste the outdoor lifestyle through Chabak crave: pristine beachfront views and wild cooking areas, but with the reassurance of amenities such as bathrooms and convenience stores nearby. Inland locations are popular too, with plenty of forests, lakes and riverside locations within a few hours’ drive of bustling Seoul, offering a peaceful escape.


You’ll be brave to explore Chabak in sub-zero winter conditions, so South Korea’s spring and fall are the most pleasant, offering cherry blossom in bloom and breathtakingly colorful foliage respectively.

Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
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The Rise of Chabak
When and Why This Korean Phenomenon Emerged
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Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
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The rise of Chabak

The growing popularity of Chabak should come as no surprise. Camping in general has undergone a remarkable surge in popularity in recent years.


By 2022, the country’s camping market had reached a staggering KRW 6.3 trillion ($46.5 billion), up eight percent on the previous year — and this growth occurred against the backdrop of a tourism sector decimated by Covid-19.


During the pandemic, Chabak was one of few possibilities when it came to vacations. It was safe, affordable and – put simply – it was possible. International travel and global tourism have returned, but Chabak retains its appeal post-pandemic.


The number of camping grounds in South Korea has also risen significantly, increasing by more than 1,000 in four years, reaching 3,280 sites in 2022. This explosive growth can be attributed in part to the desire for quiet and relaxing getaways with family and friends as many seek to escape the grind of city life for serene and natural settings.

Chabak’s Impact on Car Culture

It’s not just lifestyles the Chabak trend is reshaping, but also South Korea’s automotive landscape. SUVs have become the go-to choice for Korean families looking to Chabak, representing more than 70 percent of car sales in 2022, according to statistics from the Korea Automotive Technology Institute.


Spacious interiors and off-road capabilities make them the preferred choice, and Chabak has even influenced the design of newer SUVs, which now feature roomy cabins ideal for creating an open and airy space. The popularity of pickup trucks and RVs – once overlooked – is also rising, with the number of people in their 20s obtaining licenses for RVs reaching unprecedented levels.

Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
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Freedom and Mobility
Chabak Fusion: Blending Serenity and the Outdoors
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Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea
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A Nation Ready to Embark on New Adventures

Chabak epitomizes the perfect blend of two cherished desires: the freedom of independent mobility and the serenity of the great outdoors. As the world navigates the unpredictable post-pandemic era, South Korea has wholeheartedly embraced Chabak, a unique way to satisfy the yearning for adventure and a nature fix. This fusion redefines travel, offering safety, excitement, and a genuine connection to the natural beauty of the ‘Land of Morning Calm.’


With more South Koreans seeking adventure and more international travelers discovering the nation beyond the great city of Seoul, Chabak will  continue to grow in popularity. In this ever-evolving travel landscape, Chabak serves as a symbol of possibility and the enduring spirit of exploration.

Exploring Chabak: The Rising Trend of Car Camping in South Korea

Editor. Sean Carson

sean.carson@hyundai.com
Global PR Strategy & Planning · Hyundai Motor Company

About Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Group is a global enterprise that has created a value chain based on mobility, steel and construction, as well as logistics, finance, IT and service. With about 250,000 employees worldwide, the Group’s mobility brands include Hyundai, Kia and Genesis. Armed with creative thinking, cooperative communication and the will to take on any challenges, we strive to create a better future for all.


More information about Hyundai Motor and its products can be found at:

http://www.hyundaimotorgroup.com or Newsroom: Media Hub by Hyundai , Kia Global Media Center (kianewscenter.com) , Genesis Media Center


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