Korean Southern Island Tour: May 2-6

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Geojedo Island is Korea’s second largest island with breathtaking scenery. At Jangpyeong-ri, simply pass the great bridge and you will be led directly to Geojedo Island, which boasts the bulk of the South Sea’s tourist attractions. Haegeumgang, Mongdol Beach and Oedo Island Paradise Island are the most popular sites among them.

Haegeumgang, an island made of rocks, belongs to Hallyeo Marina National Park and is also called the Geumgang of the South Sea. It is famous for both its sunsets and sunrises, and its unique rock formations. Also, Hakdong Mongdol Beach, made of pebbles called Mongdol, has camellias and fairy pits in spring, and comes alive as a beach resort in summer. Oedo Paradise Island, which recently became a popular site, is called the ‘Paradise of Korea’ because of the 3,000 kinds of decorated trees and the Mediterranean style buildings that stand upon this 264 square km land. This island is a poplar site for filming soap dramas due to the combination of the exotic atmosphere and sea.

Geojedo Island is historically a significant place. Memorial services are held annually in memory of General Lee Sun-Shin at the Okpodaecheop (war) Memorial Park, built in memory of the battle of Okpo(1592.5.7 – 5.8). Geojedo Island also had the biggest prisoner-of-war camp during the Korean War, and the camp has been restored as a historical relics site.

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Above: view from our one-room-for-7 hostel. Below: racks of drying seaweed

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Experiencing trepidation on our first ferry ride after the Sewol sinking in April…

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Below: Oedo-Botania is a marine botanical garden located in Hallyeo Maritime National Park, which has a beautiful view of the crystal blue South Sea and surrounding landscape. It is 4 kilometers away from Geojedo Island. About 20 minutes by ship from Gujora Port, past Naedo Island lies the European-like Oedo Island. In 1969, Lee Chang-ho first came to this island to escape from the wind and waves as he was fishing. He and his wife created this breathtaking landscape with all the care for 30 years.

In April, the island is covered with a plethora of flowers. The Venus Garden displays twelve sculptures and a western-style garden. At Paradise Lounge, one can enjoy the sunshine and the sea while drinking beverages. Camellias and various kinds of rare flowers from all over the world can be found in Oedo. When coming down the ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ visitors can view the beautiful garden and the ocean in the background. Magnificent terrace landscaping line both sides of the stairway. Oedo Paradise Island is without a doubt, a true paradise.

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Day 2:

A short, hour-long ferry ride from Tongyeong Port takes one to Hallyeo Maritime National Park, Somaemuldo Island. Located at the end of the Korean Peninsula, the island is well known for its oddly shaped rocks of the coast cliffs, the clear and blue sea, the beautiful Deungdaesum Island, which is often shown in movies and commercials.
Passing through the 500~600-year-old camelli woods for 30 min from the pier at Somaemuldo Island, you will get to Mangtaebong Peak, the top of the island. The peak is a natural observatory to enjoy the many islands of Tongyeong and Geoje Haeguemgang River. The view of Deungdaesum Island is indescribably beautiful. Somaemuldo Island is also one of the best tourist sites toward the end of the year because of the magnificent view of the sunset and sunrise.
The highlight of Somaemuldo Island is Deungdaesum Island, also called ‘Haegeumdo.’ This island is so small that it takes only 20 min to walk around. The white lighthouse on the hill and green grass make for romantic scenery. The lighthouse, which is the only facility on the island, was bulit by Japan during the Japanese Colonial Period (1910-1945). The 150-meter waterway from Somaemuldo Island to Deungdaesum Island is where the miracle of Moses takes place. Two islands are connected with a gravel road twice a day when the tides ebb. Deungdaesum Island, covered with wild camomiles from late October to early November, is especially fantastic.

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Listening to the now-required safety speech for our second ferry tour of the adventure…

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Below: variations on hiking gear in Korea…

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Below: the clusterfuck of a non-line to get back onto the ferry and the crowded floor space left on the ferry for those who didn’t manage to get a seat. It was hot and rocking back and forth. Miraculously, these two were able to sleep right through it.

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Day 3:


A five-hour drive from Seoul leads visitors to a quaint place known as Namhae, Korea’s “treasure island.” A bridge that was constructed in 1973 now is connected to the mainland, which makes it no longer an island in the truest sense. This small yet beautiful island has picturesque sceneries harmoniously juxtaposing the mountains and the sea. The jagged 302-kilometer coastline reveals strange rock formations that create a fantastic view reminiscent of ancient Asian paintings.

The island is actually the topmost part of a huge mountain range rising from the sea floor. Because of its topological characteristics, the whole island is formed from mountains that descend steeply to the shoreline. It is surrounded by emerald-colored seas dotted with 68 islands, some inhabited and some not.

Largely untouched by development efforts, Namhae Island still has a purely traditional agricultural and fishing community. Along the steep coast, the people managed to create terraced fields to produce garlic in the spring and rice in the summer and autumn. If you would like to see what Korean life was like a half century ago, this is the place to go.

Just driving along the 302-kilometer-long coastline is enough to impress visitors. However, a trip to some tourist sites will make the trip even more worthwhile. Most are located near the coast and can be enjoyed during the course of the ride. In this edition, French student Frederic accompanied us to the major tourist sites of Namhae: Hilton Golf Namhae Resort, Daraengi Village, Geumsan Boriam Rock, Sangju Beach, Mijohang Port, Haeoreum Art Village and a German Village where we experienced fishing and pottery-making.

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