Haenam: Where nature meets history, culture
Image by USAG-Humphreys
HAENAM, Korea — Whether you’re the adventurous type, or just want to relax and unwind with your family, Haenam County, located in the far southwestern tip of Korea, has something for everyone.
Although volumes have been dedicated to Haenam, I will focus on an exclusive number of attractions here.
Haenam County has all the beauty of the countryside – breathtaking forests, mountains, valleys, and the complete benefits of a clean oceanic environment. As well as the people, the weather is very friendly too. Haenam is one of the warmest parts of Korea and it never falls below zero. And, because of the decent climate, a full range of wild foods grow here. Plus, the uncluttered seawater offers an abundant source of goodies.
When I was about to enter university, my friends and I made a secret plan to go on a walking trip to Haenam, thinking it would be so cool to “walk” to the end of the peninsula. But unfortunately, it did not happen since some of the parents didn’t allow us. However, this past October, I finally got to visit Haenam through my internship program. About 250 of us from both Humphreys and Yongsan Garrison visited Haenam County during the Great Battle of Myeongryang Festival, held by Jeollanamdo Province.
The festival is an annual event of both Haenam and Jindo, and was designed after this famous battle of Myeongryang more than 400 years ago. The Usuyeong area and the tourist resort have great significance for Koreans and to world history. One of Korea’s greatest admirals, Yi Sun-shin, with only 13 ships remaining in his fleet, defeated a Japanese navy that had 133 warships and 200 support ships, by using the strong currents of the Myeongryang straits.
This remarkable victory can be relived at the Usuyeong tourist resort every October, where one can absorb the energy from the monuments and historic remains, while strolling carefree through the Myeongnyang Victory Park.
Heard of Jindo dogs of Korea? These clever dogs are from just around the corner; you can literally cross the bridge from Usuyoung area. Jindo Island also provides lots of attractions. Vehicles can cross the bridge, except during the festival period.
Traveling with children? Uhangri Dinosaur Center and Park has an appeal of its own and can make you the best parents. Dinosaur fossils and footprints from more than 90 million years ago were discovered here. If you want to go back in time and walk with the former rulers of the earth, Haenam is the place to go.
Being in a wide grass field with the warm touch of the sunlight was just great. My favorite part at Uhangri was taking pictures with the enormous dinosaur statues all around the park.
Not far away, there is a beach that has luxuriant old pine trees, fine sand, and gentle crystal waves. No, this isn’t something from a fairytale, it is Songho Swimming Beach located in Ttangkkeut, on the southern tip of Korea. It’s quite cold for these activities, but the gentle slopes make it an ideal place for swimming and camping. If you are not much of a beach person, don’t worry. Duryun National Park will be your alternative choice. An ancient temple visit, after a pleasant hike with cool breezes, followed with a cable car ride, will be just right for your taste.
From cultural heritage, historical relics, great food of Jeollanamdo province, ancient temples and sculptures to high peaks, Haenam has them all. You can also visit the Haenam tourism web site at eng.haenam.go.kr/. The website provides much of the information you will need, including lodging, fares, guide maps and even tour course. The only problem you’ll encounter is not having enough time to do everything.
(Editor’s Note: Arisae Ryu, a student at Namseoul University in Cheonan, is currently an intern in the USAG Humphreys Public Affairs Office. While here, she is going to be writing about items in Korean culture that Americans might not usually hear about.)
Photos by Mike Mooney, Peter Yu and Sue He-so