Ibike Korea People-to-People Program



Photo essay: Seomjin River -
Gwangyang, Hadong, Ssanggye-sa, Gurye

    Points of Interest: Seomjingang Trail, Gwangyang, Hadong, Gurye
  Sunshine Gwangyang , Korea Expressway ramps, Gwangyang, KoeaNear the mouth of the Seomjin River, Gwangyang, KoreaThe slogan for Gwangyang County is simple "Sunshine".  That certainly has been the prevailing daytime weather this day.

The Seomjingang Trail begins at the mouth of the river, which is crocheted with expressway ramps.

POSCO Gwangyang Steelworks, Korea

POSCO Gwangyang Steelworks, Korea

POSCO Gwangyang Steelworks, KoreaThe demand for the extensive transportation infrastructure come from the nearby POSCO Gwangyang Steelworks and the Gwangyang Bay Free Economic Zone.

The steelworks is the largest steel plant in the world. They claim they have the most modern technology, and the best facilities for steel manufacturing. It presently produces coil used for making bridges, iron structures, cars, refrigerators, and more. Its production capacity averages about 18 million tons per year. This plant is also a tourist trap attracting more than 300,000 people from around the world. Industrial factory, Gwangyang, KoreaPOSCO was formed in 1968 as a government self-sufficiency initiative and began producing in 1972, in Pohan. It was privatized in 1998.

In addition to steel, there are cement, chemical and other heavy industry factories in Gwangyang.

Estuary, Seomjin River Trail, Korea Crabs, Seomjin River Trail, KoreaReed bed and estuary, Seomjin River Trail, KoreaThe lower reach of the Seonjingang is tidal. A lot of the shoreline habitat is reeds and estuary.

At low tide some mudflats appear and small crabs pop out of their burrows (right).

Fish sculpture, Seomjin River Trail, Korea Seomjin River Trail, KoreaTo celebrate the fishing culture in the mouth of the river and extending to the islands offshore, a fish sculpture (left) enhances a village park.

The trail continues to evolve as each year new construction (especially 2014-16) creates separate lanes for non-motorized users, so they can move off the adjacent roads (right).

Jang-seung and So-ttae, Seomjin River Trail, Hadong, Korea At the edge of one village were Jang-seung ("totem poles") and So-ttae (wooden birds on poles).

Jang-seung are a male-female pair of wooden spirit posts representing the earthly and heavenly gods. Usually locate at the entrance to a village scare off evil. They are smiling scary.

So-ttae traditionally marked the boundaries of a village and were for good luck. Contemporarily they are used more as decorative art.

Greenhouse and vegetable farming, Seonjingang, Hadong, Korea Greenhouse and vegetable farming, Seonjingang, Hadong, KoreaMoving further inland, aquaculture is replaced by agriculture. While much of the agriculture in Korea is rice, in this valley there was and expanse of greenhouse or greenhouse frames (currently uncovered). These are generally used for vegetable farming and horticulture.
New bridge across the Seomjin River, Korea (2016)There is a reoccurring theme in Korea of new bridges. The construction on this bridge seem to be pretty complete (2016), but there is an abrupt drop-off on the eastern approach (right side) and there is no apparent road on its way. On the western side (left), the road leads into a hill, but a tunnel has been built..

To Hadong and Jinja

    Seomjingang Trail, Hadong, KoreaFor most of the distance from Gwangyang to Hadong the Seomjingang Trail follows closely follows the river on a separate trail. The river bends gently along the valley floor, generally without a perceptible current. It is broad and bounded by rolling hills.
  Stone toad statue, Joseon Dynasty, Hadong, Korea Pavilion, Seomjin River, Hadong, KoreaThe sign nearby describes the stone toads as the "clumsy sculpture technique of the Joseon Dynasty. The mouth is toothless, the feet are simple and the head is looks more like a turtle. That be as it is, they have created a whole park around the clumsy turtle.

The pavilion provide a shaded place to relax and watch the Seomjingang (river).

    Joseon toad park, Hadong, Korea Joseon toad park, Hadong, Korea Joseon toad park, Hadong, Korea Joseon toad park, Hadong, Korea
  Chestnut on a tree, Gwangyang Province, Korea Chestnut husk, Gwangyang Province, KoreaChestnut husk, Gwangyang Province, KoreaChestnut are one of the major crops along the lower Seomjingang. Here they are seen hanging on a tree, the husk opened and hundreds drying along the side of bike trail.
  Sesame or perilla, Gwangyang Province, Korea Taro, toran, eddo, cocoyam, dasheen, elephant ear plant, yu tou, woo cho, sato-imo, kimo Tea plants, Gwangyang Province, Korea Persimmons on the tree, Gwangyang Province, Korea Beehives, Gwangyang Province, Korea Other major agricultural products for the district that border the route include; sesame or perilla, taro or toran (or depending upon where you are in the world; eddo (Caribean), cocoyam (West Africa), dasheen (America), elephant ear plant, yu tou (China), woo choi (China), and sato-imo or kimo (Japan) to name a few), tea, persimmon, and honey (beehives).
  Roller blading group glides down a rural road, Korea. Flanked by warning vehicles ahead and in the rear, an inline skating groups use the flat low traffic road along the river for an outing on the weekend.  This group, passed between Hadong and Gurye, had a couple dozen members.

If you pass this area (Maehwa Village) in the spring you will be treated to the display of 100,000 plum (or apricot) trees in bloom. In Korea tradition, there is a festival that coincides with it in mid-march.

Across the river is Pyeongsa-ri, the main setting for renown Korean woman writer Park Gyeong-ri’s (1926-2008) (not to be confused with the K-pop singer and model of the same name) epic, sixteen volume saga Toji (The Land). It has been made into a TV series, a movie, and an opera.

  Seomjin River Trail, Korea Praying mantis, Seomjin River Trail, Korea

View from the Seomjin River Trail (left)

Praying mantis (right)


  Old furniture under the trees by the river Livingroom chair repurposed to bus shelter, KoreaOld furniture isn't sent to the land fill, it is sent to the river bank and bus shelters for repurposing.  It is amusing to pass a bus shelter and see a big, overstuffed chair in it.  Or, to see a cluster of old furniture resting in the shade of some trees with a good view of a river and mountains, waiting to be occupied.
  Namdo Bridge across the Seomjingang, Korea Namdo Bridge across the Seomjingang, KoreaNamdo Bridge across the Seomjingang, KoreaThe Namdo bridge (new in 2004) crosses the Seomjingang (river) at Hwagae Village. It has nice curves and lines standout in the valley. It is not better than the natural beauty, but its artistry catches the eye.

Hwagae Village, Tea Country, Ssanggyesa  (side trip)

  Seomjingang Trail, Gwangyang County, Korea

Seomjingang Trail, Gwangyang County, Korea

Seomjingang Trail, Gwangyang County, Korea Veiw point, Seomjingang Trail, Gwangyang County, Korea Pedestrian viaduct, Seomjingang Trail, Gwangyang County, Korea Seomjingang Trail, Gwangyang County, Korea

North of Namdo Bridge parts of the Seomjingang Trail are co-located on the road, but the traffic volumes is so low that most of the time it is like an over-size dedicated bike facilities. The generally flat route looks out onto the river, rice fields and reed beds, with a backdrop of forested hills. The street trees are in the Prunus genus (probably cherry) so in leave they are elegant, but when they are in bloom the road must be absolutely gorgeous. Some of the engineer to accommodate all of the modes is very impressive, including miles of pedestrian viaduct build above the .

Once a river it seems to be necessary to photo the "bicycle-be-cautious-not-to-run-off-the-road sign.

  rice drying on the roadside, Korea Rice drying along the side of the road, Korea


It always nice to find yourself on a road with rice, peppers, beans or other produce drying on the road.  It means the locals don't expect much traffic so you don't have to either.  But if the traffic gets to heavy you end up with tire tracks in the rice (right).

   Eurasian Otter Habitat Eco-System Conservation Area Otter Habitat Eco-System Conservation Area on the Seomjin RiverEurasian Otter Habitat Eco-System Conservation Area on the Seomjin RiverThe sign explains, maps and gives the policies for the Eurasian Otter Habitat Eco-System Conservation Area on the Seomjin River.  This is a radical departure from the enormous amount of narrow river channelization and river bed habitat degradation seen on other rivers, and other sections of the Seomjin River.

Seomjin River Fish Eco-MuseumA few members of our groups have seen live otters, but it is easier to photograph the statues at theKoi or carp, Seomjin River Fish Eco-Museum adjacent otter research center and the Seomjin River Fish Eco-Museum.

The museum seems to be set-up like a fish hatchery, but it is not clear if the fish are intended for release into the river. Carp, or Koi, is just one of the types of fish that is being reared.

  Western style house, Korea In sprawling America, nothing says new construction like white vinyl windows and vinyl siding.  It looks like the same building materials have made their way to housing construction in Korea.
  Traditional monument and modern instrument recording events, Korea Here is the juxtaposition of a couple of "monuments": a traditional stone one commemorating some notable event, and a modern stainless steel one, with instruments and dials, recording some contemporary event.
  clear water of the Seomjingang, Korea Turtle sunning in the Seomjingang, KoreaWhile fishermen space themselves across the river (left) a turtle (right) near the shore catches the last few warming rays of afternoon sun.

Seomjingang River (섬진강) boasts the cleanest water among Korea’s five largest rivers. People gathering Jaecheop (clean water clams), below the farm at Maehwa, in the mud flats of the Seomjingang River,

    Para-gliders, Gurye, KoreaPara-gliders circle like a large flock of condors, playing in the updrafts around a mountain near Gurye.

Upper Seomjingang Trail


Beolgyo (southern route)


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