MON, MAY 23, 2022
Hidden Charms of Korea: Namhae - Exploring 'Treasure Island'
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Hidden Charms of Korea: Namhae - Exploring 'Treasure Island'
  • By Korea.net
  • 승인 2022.05.01 04:56
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Yu Hong-june, a prominent art historian in Korea and chair professor at Myongji University in Seoul, said in his book "My Exploration of Cultural Heritage," "The more you know, the more you see." Even if a place is famous or on a plain ordinary day, a landscape can be seen differently depending on one's knowledge and perspective.

This is the first of a Korea.net series on domestic cultural and tourist spots this year. For famous places easily found on the internet, we approach them from new perspectives focused on people and their stories. In addition, we cover ordinary spots often overlooked to promote them as potential tourist attractions. Thus readers can discover attractive aspects of the nation hidden throughout the country.
Visitors who rent a car in Namhae, Gyeongsangnam-do Province, are advised to begin their visit of the island from the east starting from Namhae Intercity Bus Terminal and move west. Since this is no small island, the distance and time to reach each attraction should be calculated to save time. (Kim Hyun Suk)
Visitors who rent a car in Namhae, Gyeongsangnam-do Province, are advised to begin their visit of the island from the east starting from Namhae Intercity Bus Terminal and move west. Since this is no small island, the distance and time to reach each attraction should be calculated to save time. (Kim Hyun Suk)

An intercity bus is the most convenient way to get to Namhae from the Seoul metropolitan area. Five such buses to the island run five times a day from Seoul Nambu Terminal. Expect spacious seats as all of the buses are luxury class.

The first bus to Namhae from Seoul departs at 7:10 a.m. and the last at 7 p.m., with travel time of about 4 1/2 hours. Tickets can be purchased via the transportation service T-money homepage and its app or at the entrance of Seoul Nambu Terminal. The adult fare is KRW 34,900 one way. (Kim Hyelin)
The first bus to Namhae from Seoul departs at 7:10 a.m. and the last at 7 p.m., with travel time of about 4 1/2 hours. Tickets can be purchased via the transportation service T-money homepage and its app or at the entrance of Seoul Nambu Terminal. The adult fare is KRW 34,900 one way. (Kim Hyelin)

The scenery seen from the bus window gets greener and more peaceful the more the bus moves away from Seoul. Many nap during the ride but enjoying the scenery while on the way there is highly recommended. When entering Namhae, see the dazzling beauty of the red and tall Namhae Bridge and the sea horizon. Stretch your legs and open the curtains after arriving there.

Connecting the counties of Hadong-gun and Namhae-gun in Gyeongsangnam-do Province, Namhae Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in Korea. (Namhae-gun County Office)

After arrival, select which mode of transportation to travel the island. Rent a car from a store near the bus terminal or book one online. For those opting for public transit, use the publicly run Ttubeogi Bus. https://www.namhae.go.kr/tour/00012/00934/00688.web

It takes about an hour and 50 minutes for this bus to tour the island's best-known attractions such as the German Village, Boriam Hermitage and Daraengi Village. The bus operates at intervals of two to three hours and the fare is KRW 5,000 per person. Passengers can get off at any stop and reboard later to move to other stops.

Though Namhae welcomes visitors with its unique beauty in all four seasons, everyone Korea.net talked to during its visit there said the island is "especially beautiful in spring." When traveling Namhae, enjoy the beautiful and vivid spring flowers that decorate the mountain and fields filled with canola flowers, azaleas and tulips that please everyone. (Kim Hyelin)

For a more customized trip, hire a taxi tour guide. https://www.namhae.go.kr/tour/00012/00934/00369.web 

Learn more about Namhae's tourist attractions from the guide and explore the island through a half- (KRW 80,000) or full-day tour (KRW 100,000). Booking a tour online should be done two days ahead of the desired date. Reserving a tour via telephone or in-person visit to the office there should be done at least one day before the trip. Users can select their desired time and course through the guide.

The observation deck in the village of Jijok-ri of Namhae's Samdong-myeon Township (Namhae-gun County Office)

The village of Jijok-ri has a few wooden sculptures that stretch down Cheongseondaegyo Bridge over the sea. First-time visitors to Namhae may find them strange but the sculptures are jukbangryeom, or bamboo fishing nets. They are designed to catch fish by creating a trap fish tank in a traditional manner by building wooden posts and bamboo in spots with strong currents to trap fish when they get in when the water comes. This method dates back 500 years. At the end of the deck is an observation spot that connects the wooden deck and bamboo net, where one can see the structure and get a closer look at fishing gear. 

At Windbreak Forest in Mulgeon-ri with its spring green leaves, the sound of the wind against leaves and that of waves touching the rocks on the beach create a sense of amusement. Walking along the forest path headed toward a small port helps visitors release stress from daily life. Don't forget to take photos from the stairs going toward the port in the forest connecting to Mongdol Beach. And snapping photos of the area's green trees and peaceful, crystal-clear waters is sure to produce a "pic of the day."

At Byeokryeon Port, travelers need to rent a small private boat to get to Nodo Island, which was where Joseon Dynasty scholar Kim Man-jung (1637-92, pen name Seopo) was exiled. A 20-minute ride on the boat brings passengers to a cliff with a piano keyboard-like pattern. (Kim Hyelin)

When thinking of a prime spot to view columnar joints in Korea, many might say Jeju Island. Yet Namhae-gun County in Gyeongsangnam-do Province also has such geological structures. To find them, head to Byeongnyeonhang Port in the village of Yanga-ri in the county's Sangju-myeon Township. The joints were formed when lava cooled and created column-like shapes, and created unique scenery unlike that of other sea rocks. 

A yacht rental shop near the port charges about KRW 100,000 per hour for renting a vessel. Call the shop (010-8208-6300) to book in advance.

Daraengi Village not only has rice paddies but also plenty of cafes and restaurants worth relaxing at because of their beautiful views. (Kim Hyelin)

Daraengi Village has scenic views when looking over from above and from the sea to the mountains as well. Visitors should park their cars at the parking lot and walk to the village to have a look, since the village is not accessible by motor vehicles. 

Signboards at many places in the village advertise interactive farming and fishing programs. Stop for a while to read some of them. Looking around the village takes about an hour. Entering the village means going downhill but uphill when leaving, so wearing comfortable shoes is highly recommended.

This table setting features raw anchovies (top) and gimbap (seaweed rice rolls) with barnacles (ttagaebi). (Yoon Hee Young)

So what is there to eat in Namhae? This culinary hub is packed with restaurants serving foods ranging from those from the sea and land including seafood, spinach and garlic. Raw seafood favorites include anchovy salad or rice. For vegetarians, foods with seaweed are recommended such as gimbap (seaweed rice roll) with barnacles or mixed rice with seaweed. Another specialty is makgeolli (milky rice wine) with citron, a Namhae specialty. Citron is light and fruity and goes well with every seafood dish.


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