Ibike Korea People-to-People Program


Photo essay: West Coast, South Korea -
Buan, Naesosa, Chaeseokgang, Saemangeum, Iksan

Buan to Gunsan: We touch coastline, see fishing village and breath sea air.
Points of Interest:  Naesosa, Saemangeum Seawall, and Gunsan

Sapo-ri, Heungdeok-myeon, Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea ‎ Sapo-ri, Heungdeok-myeon, Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea ‎Gim So-hui Birthplace, Sapo-ri, Heungdeok-myeon, Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea ‎Following farm roads through the rice fields of Sapo-ri, Heungdeok-myeon, Gochang-gun, we passed Gim So-hui's birthplace.  I haven't been able to determine whether Gim is a historic figure or contemporary figure.  The name appears in both contexts.
Share the road with bicycles, Korea Bicycle way finding sign, KoreaBicycle way finding sign, Korea.The development of rural Korea's bicycle infrastructure is starting to move beyond river trails and farm road (2016). On-road way finding aids are starting to appear. The placard below the round 'give bicyclist a meter' sign (left), says "share the road".
From Julpo, there are a choice of route: continuing on the scenic route around the Buan Peninsula to the Saemangeum Seawall, cutting across the base of the peninsula to the Saemangeum Seawall, or turning inland at Julpo.
Buan Celadon Museum, Korea Seowon, Buan-gun, KoreaBuan Celadon Museum, KoreaLocally they say that Buan-gun is where the world's foremost inlaid Goryeo celadon porcelain was produced. The appropriately colored Buan Celadon Museum (left) has 200 artifacts of Goryeo celadon porcelain on display.

Among the fields and forest is a building that looks to have been a seowon (right).

Salt Farm and Salt Fish, Gomso Port, Korea Gomso Port Salt Farm and Salt Fish

Gomso is known for its sundried sea salt production, on large salt pans, and preparation of assorted salted fish, a preserved food made from the fresh fish provided by local fisherman.

Prayer Tree, Naesosa, Korea Breach over stream with visitors, Naesosa, KoreaOne pillar gate, Naesosa, KoreaNaesosa (temple) is located at the foot of Kwanuoombong, Neungka mountain. It was built in 633, during the Baekje Dynasty, by monk Hyeguduta.  The temple includes a 600m long, tree lined road stretching from Iljumun (the first gate) to Cheonwangmun (the guardian gate dedicated to the Four Devas). Restaurants outside Naesosa, Korea Initially there was a large and small temple, but the big one was destroyed by fire.  The present temple was rebuilt in 1633 and repaired in 1865.

Though it is designated a National Treasure, the sanctity and purity of the space is crushed by cars driving up to and parking right at the entrance.

Cheonwangmun (the guardian gate dedicated to the Four Devas), Naesosa, Korea Two of four Devas of the Guardian Gate, Naesosa, KoreaTwo of four Devas of the Guardian Gate, Naesosa, KoreaThe four Devas of the Guardian Gate are of Hindu origins, as devotees of Buddha, these figures guard Buddhist cannons and are the protective deities over monks and the faithful.  The Jiguk Deva (lute) rules over the east, the Jeungjang Deva (sword) over the south, the Gwangmok Deva (dragon) over the west and the Damun Deva (pagoda) over the north.  At the center of the four quarters is Sumisan.  Sumisan is where Buddha lives -- a temple is symbolic of Sumisan, therefore, if one passes this gate he or she is likely to enter the world of Buddha.
Bell, Naesosa, Korea Metal cloud gong, Naesosa, KoreaWooden fish slit drum, Naesosa, KoreaThe drum and bell pavilion has the usual set of instruments: a large metal bell, a large cowhide covered drum, a wooden slit drum in the form of a fish, and a metal cloud gong in the form of a cloud. Collectively, when the are played, they call together all the creatures in the universe.

The bell, which is in a style typical of the Goryeo period, was made in 1222 and weighs 420kg. It was move to Naesosa in 1850. The hanging ring of the bell has a carved dragon. The principal Buddha engraved on the center is seated on a lotus flower, two Bodhisattvas are standing on either side. The strike point is in the shape of a lotus flower.

Main temple, Naesosa, Korea Temple interior, Naesosa, KoreaTemple interior, Naesosa, KoreaThis is the main sanctuary, with Sakyamuni Buddha in the center, flanked by Samantabhadra to the right and Majusri to the left.  The temple was built at the end of the Joseon dynasty, only of wood, without nails.
Shrine of the mountain god, Naesosa, Korea Temple of ancestors, Naesosa, KoreaTemple of ancestors, Naesosa, KoreaNaesosa is relatively compact and eye catching at every corner:

Buildings are set on different layers, such as the Shrine of the mountain god (left), which has a suitable lofty perch.

Each interior is unique. The Shrine of ancestors (right) is ringed by statues of a council of elders..

Beauty of Naesosa, Korea Colorful paper lanterns, Naesosa, KoreaOrnate drinking fountain, Naesosa, KoreaStone pagoda, Naesosa, KoreaIn additional to the general setting and layout of building, terraces and gardens, the grounds have nice details that add to there aesthetic, such as the stone pagoda, carved granite drinking fountain and display of paper lanterns.
eyesore Mohang Resort Hotel, Korea

Gomso Bay fills most of the photo (left) but additional salt ponds can seen behind the Madong Seawall on the left side.

Any philosophy about planning with nature was left off the table at Mohang. It has a nice harbor, beautiful beach and picturesque views, except for the eyesore Mahong Resort Hotel.

Holly Trees. Docheong-ri, Buan, Korea Approximately 700 holly trees are in this grove. It is not what the Americas and Europe think of as holly. According to the sign: The trees was named holly (Horanggasi) because a tiger (Horang-yi) scratches his back by touching it to this leaf when his back is itchy. (Gasi means thorn.) The white flower blooms in April and May.  Its round red fruit ripens between August and September. It is believed that if branches are hung with a sardine at the gate, it will protect people from evil spirits.
Buan Movie Theme Park, Gyeokpo, Korea Buan Movie Theme Park, Gyeokpo, KoreaThe Buan Movie Theme Park, near Gyeokpo, is dedicated to historical productions. It encompasses 37.5-acre of land featuring exact replicas of a middle Joseon period palace, noblemen’s village, scholarly bureaucrats’ houses, oriental medicine area, pottery area, craft area and market streets with 24 palatial buildings, 11 tile-roofed commoner’s houses, 15 herbal shops, 17 craft workshops, 200 meters of town walls, as well as pavilions and ponds.

It was the set for several historical dramas.

Gyeokpo (port), Korea boats, Gyeokpo (port), KoreaGyeokpo is a small picturesque fishing village, tucked between hills, surrounded by farmland, and now protected by two breakwaters with aSculpture, Gyeokpo (port), Korea lighthouse at the end of each one.  Tourism is a major part of the economy the area so the infrastructure to support it is well developed.  A park at the north end of the marina has some sculptures and interpretive information on Chaeseonkgang Cliff.

There are trails at both ends of the harbor area. To the north, the trail leads up to the high bluff where there is an observation pavilion offering fantastic coastal vistas, with small islands visible offshore. The south bluff has a park, and is a shorter climb. A boardwalk allows visitors to walk out to the end of the south jetty.

Chaeseokgang Cliffs., Gyeokpo, Korea

Chaeseokgang Cliffs., Gyeokpo, KoreaThe Chaeseokgang Cliffs, offer a couple of quick lessons in geology: The soil in this area has a basal layer composed of Precambrian granite and gneiss and a stratification of sedimentary rock heaped in the Cretaceous Period (some 70 million years ago) of Mesozoic Period, forming a layer stacked as if with tens of thousands of books. If look hard you might be inspired with the mystery of nature.  There is a lot to be seen in the eroded face: Photo 1) shows a fold in the sedimentary layer, 2) shows a number of sedimentary layers and caves eroded into the face of the cliff, and 3) shows a fault line crossing the sedimentary layers. The origin of the name comes from China, from the story of Lee Tae-Baek, while drinking wine on a ship, he saw the moon reflected in the river and jumped into the water to grab it. The name Chaeseokgang was adapted as it resembles the Chinese equivalent of this location.

Chaeseokgang Cliffs., Gyeokpo, Korea1)     Chaeseokgang Cliffs., Gyeokpo, Korea2).    Chaeseokgang Cliffs., Gyeokpo, Korea3)

FYI: Sedimentary folds can be from microscopic to the size of mountains, and have a half-dozen causes.  Books have been written about them, so if this one peaks your curiosity, start researching.

Yeogwan, Hotel, Korea The architecture of this yeogwan (hotel) is not terribly unique but it is a good example of a typically facade-genre.  As I pass them in all parts of the country, I often return to the question of why the preferred design for small hotels in 21st century Korea seems to be 19th  century, or earlier, French Provincial, Gothic, Baroque and European Medieval castle, or a hybrid mash of two or more?  I assume they elicit romance, but then where and when did that originate? Does any one remember that in their original incarnation many castles were cold and drafty?
Houses, Byeonsan, Buan, Korea Deer sign, Byeonsan, Buan, Korea Sky, Byeonsan, Buan, KoreaCutting through the Byeonsan mountains provides additional scenic rewards.
So-tae, wooden birds on poles, Yuyu,  Korea So-tae, wooden birds on poles,Yuyu,  KoreaAt Yuyu Lake there is a flock of So-tae, wooden birds on poles. Traditionally these marked the boundaries of a village and were for good luck.  Contemporarily they are used more as decorative art.
Buan Silk Worm Museum, Byeonsan, Korea Buan Silk Worm Museum, Byeonsan, KoreaKorea not only seems to have museums and festivals for everything, and sometimes they celebrate parts of things.  In this case it is not a silk museum, but a museum that honors the essential contribution and accomplishment of the silk worm. The museum is in the village of Yuyu, Mapo-ri, which has a 150 year history with silk worms and mulberry trees.  In celebrating the silk worm they have also caricatured it a dozen different ways.
Octagonal pavilion Viewpoint, Byeonsan, Korea Heart-shaped deck, Octagonal pavilion Viewpoint, Byeonsan, Korea Byeonsan Beach from Octagonal pavilion Viewpoint, Byeonsan, Korea Byeonsan Beach from Octagonal pavilion Viewpoint, Byeonsan, Korea

The view point above Byeonsan Beach has an octagonal pavilion that provides a nice panorama of the beach and view of off-shore islands.  From this perspective you realize that the decking is heart shaped and there are a variety of romantically inspired sculptures -- another theme park!

New highway blocks old view, Korea Traffic flagger robot, KoreaIt is rare that you go a dozen miles in Korea without coming to a major construction projects, even on the secondary roads, which are the primary avenues for this journey.  A lot of the construction is for projects that cross the route for a moment and are off in another direction, but this one lingered.  It parallels the old road and bombs the view.  At this spot it is minimal because the highway is on pillars, but it continues on an embankment that blocks the view completely -- the better view will be at 100 kph / 60 mph.
Saemangeum Seawall, Korea Saemangeum Seawall, KoreaAt this point we meet the Saemangeum Seawall, or dike, or embankment, which connects an archipelago between Byeonsan and Gunsan. To make it more than just a long, boring, mostly straight road we have a few stories to tell:

At both terminus of the Saemangeum Seawall there are stone monument (no photo) for Saemangeum being the world's longest sea dike, at 33.9 km, as certified by the people who do Guinness Records. [The previous title holder is Afsluit Seawall (32.5 km) in The Netherland, which goes from coast-to-coast, in contrast to from island-to-island-to-island-to-island. The Dutch still claim to posses the world's longest sea wall.  There are reports that India plans a longer one.]

Information Center, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea Information Center, Saemangeum Seawall, KoreaThe idea for the project dates back to the first half of the twentieth century -- after the civil war, when South Korea was having trouble feeding itself. The modern announcement that the project was underway came in 1987.  At the southern terminus there is also a multi-story Information Center. The center has large viewing windows, and exhibits on the natural and human history of the sea, mudflats and coastal plains, the technology for building the seawall, and visions of a "Land of Opportunity and Promise," "New Global City," and "Saemangeum in the World."
Reclaimed Area (landfill), Saemangeum Seawall, Korea In addition to connecting Buan and Gunsan, the dike is part of an unabashed Saemangeum estuary land fill project: To quote: "The newly reclaimed area will be developed for industry, tourism, science research, international business, ecological environment and renewable energy. A new chapter of history, written in the Saemangeum area, is driving the nation's growth." The newly create area is 28,300 ha (155 sq miles -- two-thirds the size of Singapore and about seven times the size of Manhattan.)  Part of the vision of its economic potential is derived from being equal distance from Beijing and Tokyo (1000 km, 600 miles).  The key industries are listed as automobiles, shipbuilding, components, materials and green industries.

Korean and international environmentalists tried to say "Not so fast," several times, but lost in the end.

Propaganda, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea A version of the talking points come out again as you reach Garyeok (4.6km), the first island, sluice gate and rest area (with "ecological park").  The billboard on the left says, "The Larger Republic of Korea" (referring to the filling of the estuary) and has photos from space showing environmental change from 1987, 1992, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2010.  The center billboard is titled "Green Growth" and shows the quintessential young family with two kids, looking skyward, superimposed on a rendering of the industrial city and windmills (there are currently no windmills on the Saemangeum Seawall or reclaimed land, but there are some solar voltaic arrays.)  The message on the billboard on the right is "Korea Rural Community Corporation is designing a bright future for farming and fishing villages" on a picture of farmland and wind turbines. The Korea Rural Community Corporation is the entity responsible for the project.
Millennium Bicheon, Garyeok Sluice Gates, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea Above the Garyeok Sluice Gates there is a sculpture of a flutist named Millennium Bicheon (a celestial person flying in the air). According to the official guide, "Bicheon carries a congratulatory message on the completion of the world's longest dike and hope for the reclaimed area to become an economic hub in Northwest Asia."

I have barely gone ten percent of the distance and there is all ready a barrage of communiqué the message of which are:  Look at this is a great industrial and economic growth project, with a rinse of how good it is for the environment.  Perhaps too much of a cynic, each new configuration of the message made me more skeptical, not more converted. A lot of the message seems like chauvinism, self-praise and braggadocio.

View of islands, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea View of railing and islands, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea Wind caution sign, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea bus service, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea

With that rant, as rock and concrete projects go, Saemangeum can be pleasing; there are many kilometers of nice views of islands to the west, most of the railings are easy see through and some have a graceful a wave-pattern that mimics the lines of the islands and sea, the lines of the roadway and its accessories tend to be clean and there is bus service from Gunsan to Garyeok Island Sluice Gates.

No Bicycles sign, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea The signage for bicycle is confusing.  There are dozens of signs that indicate no bicycling, but it is not exactly clear whether they are meant to apply to the sidewalks or the road, which has very wide shoulders and a relatively low posted speed limit (70kph, 44mph).  I couldn't get a clue from the local bicyclists because they were using both roadway and sidewalks, and the police patrols didn't clarifyI (heart) Saemangeum, Korea anything because they weren't bothering any of the bicyclists.

For those of you who need a reminder from the government on how you are supposed to revere their project, the management of Saemangeum has conveniently erected such a memory aid or thought prompt in the form of a sign: "I ♥ Saemangeum" -- across what would otherwise be a nice view of some islands.

fishing boats, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea There is still some fishing occurring inside the dike, but the list of expected environmental damage is long: Tide lands are being buried, which kills millions of shell fish.  The loss of shellfish will impact local and migratory birds that depend upon them. Several hundred thousand migratory birds, including the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann’s Greenshank and the Great Knot, stop and feed in Saemangeum, in many cases it is the single stop in their long flight from Australia to breeding grounds in Siberia.  Saemangeum may lead to their extinction.

Even if new farm land is created it is not clear who will farm it.  Koreas rural demographic is aging unnaturally fast as young people move to the cities.

Millennium Bicheon, Sinsi Sluice Gates, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea Millennium Bicheon, Sinsi Sluice Gates, Saemangeum Seawall, KoreaSinsi Island Floodgates, Saemangeum Seawall, KoreaSinsido Sluice Gates, Saemangeum Seawall, KoreaAnother version of the Millennium Bicheon flanks the Sinsido (island) Sluice Gates.  In this case Bicheon carries a torch to light the way into the future.
Sculpture Part, Sinsido Rest Area, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea There are nine rest areas spaced along the 33 km.  Of these the Sinsido Rest Area is the largest.  It is on Sinsido, the largest and eastern most island of the 63-island Gogunsan Archipelago -- only 16 of the islands are inhabited. Resting facilities, restaurants, accommodations, trails, an observatory and monorail are being built for tourists.

The collection of sculptures (left) seemed to be waiting to be placed.

Completion monument "Land of Promise" Sinsido Rest Area, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea Completion monument "Land of Promise" Sinsido Rest Area, Saemangeum Seawall, KoreaThe complex also includes the 'completion monument' named "Land of Promise:" An inscription says that Korea will enhance its capability to stand firm in Asia after making harmony among humans, culture and environment, and leap forward.

Behind the columns: The panel on the left includes a pipe from an industrial plant, fish, birds and maybe the atoms of atomic energy.  Completion monument "Land of Promise" Sinsido Rest Area, Saemangeum Seawall, KoreaCompletion monument "Land of Promise" Sinsido Rest Area, Saemangeum Seawall, KoreaCompletion monument "Land of Promise" Sinsido Rest Area, Saemangeum Seawall, KoreaThe center block includes trucks dumping boulders to build the dike, people waving flags and banners and cheering, and boats slowing being obscured in the background. The plague in the foreground says, "Republic of Korea Green Hope." The left mural includes golfers, grains, an airplane and a futuristic city.

Sign to (not) "Mega Resort", Sinsido and Yamido, Korea Entrance to "Mega Resort", Sinsido and Yamido, Korea"Mega Resort", Sinsido and Yamido, KoreaA huge, 2.7 km long swath of land has been filled between Sinsido and Yamido (background of the photo), joining the two islands and essentially creating one large island. It is currently (2013-15) just a flat brown field, but there are already signs up directing people to a nonexistent "Mega Resort" -- well there is a grand entrance! The development corporation is promoting that because the long held names Sinsido means "island of new city" and Yamido means "island of night beauty", the mega resort is just fulfilling their fate.
Sunset Park and Yamido, Saemangeum Seawall, Korea Saemangeum Seawall, KoreaSaemangeum Seawall, KoreaSaemangeum Factoid:
In some areas the dike is built across water that is more than 50m (165 ft) deep.
The base is 600m wide for some stretches.
910,000 pieces of heavy equipment, including dump trucks and dredging ships were used in the construction.
The number workers mobilized annually for the construction of the dike is given as 2.37 m people.
Boats, Bieunghang (port), Gunsan, Korea Boats, Bieunghang (port), Gunsan, KoreaBoats, Bieunghang (port), Gunsan, KoreaBoats, Bieunghang (port), Gunsan, KoreaAt the end of the main causeway is new Bieunghang (port). Currently it has a colorful fishing fleet and onshore seafood processing and distribution businesses.  Plans call for a greater roll in marine tourism.
Anchors, Bieunghang (port), Gunsan, Korea Bieung Port bicycle rental, Gunsan, KoreaBesides the colorful boats, I liked the large bone yard of anchors.  There are literally hundreds of large anchors rusting on one side of town.  The were no obvious clues as to whether the main purpose of their existence was in their past or will be coming in their future.

One inkling of tourism in Bieunghang is a bicycle rental shop that included in its inventory tandems and bicycle trailers. Bravo.

Saemangeum Windfarm, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Bieungdo, Korea Saemangeum Windfarm, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Bieungdo, KoreaThe road takes a ninety-degree turn to the east at Bieunghang toward Gunsan. To the west is Bieungdo (island).  Bieungdo is the home of  the Saemangeum Wind Farm and Hyundai Heavy Industries.  The towers for the wind turbines are 45 meters tall and the blades are 24 meters long, so the structures can 69 meters high. Hyundai's mammoth overhead crane dwarfs everything in the vicinity; wind turbines, buildings, hills, etc.
Gunjang National Industrial Complex, Korea The last 5 km of the project, which was largely the construction staging area during the almost three decades it took to build the seawall, is now being developed as the Gunjang National Industrial Complex or Gunsan Industrial Complex No. 2 (left).Gunsan National Industrial Complex, Korea

Traveling along this transitions to the original Gunsan National Industrial Complex. This section is older, has some parks and residential building, and for a long section there are rice farm across the street from chemical plants (right).

Which brings us to Gunsan.

Turning inland at Julpo: Rual road, Jeollabuk-do, Korea

Spraying daikon radish crop, Korea

If you want to bypass the causeway (and Gunsan) you can head north at Julpo and find alternative routes. The goal is to weave past a number of cities in the area and stay on rural road.


Five-Story Stone Pagoda of Jangmun-ri, Korea It is endlessly amazing how every road seems to have a significant monument, memorial or statue. Most are unprotected and none have been vandalized. Here we can see the Five-Story Stone Pagoda of Jangmun-ri on the near by hillside.
Hwangtohyeon Battlefield, Donghak Farmers Revolt Memorial, Korea Hwangtohyeon (near Sintaein) is considered the birthplace of the greatest revolt in Korean history, the Donghak Farmers Revolt. The focus of their anger was corrupt government officials and foreign influence. This is the battlefield where the Donghak Farmers Milita first won a sweeping victory against government forces in 1894.

On February 17, the militia, led by General Jeon Bong-jun, captured the government office of Gobu-gun and forced the corrupt magistrate from his post.

In March, the militia incited another uprising in the Baesan Mountains.

Hwangtohyeon Battlefield, Donghak Farmers Revolt Memorial, KoreaHwangtohyeon Battlefield, Donghak Farmers Revolt Memorial, KoreaOn May 11, the militia launched a successful early morning surprise attack on the Jeolla Provincial Garrison, who was camped on Hwangtohyeon Hill, preparing to subdue the peasant troops. With this victory the morale of the farmers militia rose to new heights. They organized with messages of, "down with the tyrannous officials, protect the people," "promote national interests and provide welfare for the people," and "shut out foreign influence." These spread well among the rural population. Eventually, they were able to capture the provincial capital fortress at Jeonju, about 16km, 10 miles, to the north.

Unfortunately, it was at this time that the China advanced into Korea, which prompted an intervention by the Japanese. For the sake of the country the Farmers Militia agreed to a cease-fire with the government forces and coordinated their efforts at the foreigners, first the Chinese and then the Japanese.

Once the Japanese troops defeated the Chinese army, they pivoted to what was probably their real goal from the beginning and invaded Korea. The Donghak Farmers Militia put up a fierce opposition but could not match the modern weaponry of the Japanese and suffered a decisive defeat. Eventually their leader was captured and executed, and 300,000 fighters died. In the end, the rebellion that hoped to eliminate corrupt politics, defend the country from foreign invasion and build a new Korea, failed, but it continued to inspire resistance against the Japanese, and is still considered an inspiration to this day.

Gimje beyond the rice fields, Korea  

It is always nice to see a city in the distance, that stays there as you traverse the countryside. Rising in the distance from the rice fields is Gimje.  This was about our best view of it.  To the east was the even larger city of Jeonju. We avoided with an even greater margin.

Railroad yard, Iksan, Korea At some point you will likely want to select one of the cities to visit for over night accommodations and provisions.

Our city visit for the day was Iksan, a major railroad center among other thing. Like other cities it has multiple hotels, a variety of restaurants, a fashion street to confirm we were still in Korea, banks, convenience stores and a good selection of other consumer businesses.

From there we connected with the Guem River Trail near Ganggyeong.

Hampyeong to Buan Geum River Trail

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