EXPLORING KOREA: Mang Yang—Village by the Sea

by Jimalee Sowell, 19/02/2009

Looking for a nice Korean beach that’s not so popular you have to fight for a place on the sand and elbow your way through the crowds to get to the ocean? For your next beach vacation or weekend getaway, forget about what everyone else is doing and consider a trip to Mang Yang (망양). Located on the East Coast in the county of Uljin (울진군)  and very near the town of Uljin (울진읍), Mang Yang is a tiny, narrow village neatly packed in between towering mountains and the coast. With gorgeous sand and clear bluish-green water, Mang Yang is the perfect place to go for a beach vacation or just a little rest and relaxation.

The truth is there’s not really much food in Mang Yang. There are a few seafood restaurants, however, and a sparsely-stocked supermarket. The town of Uljin, though, is just a five-minute taxi ride away, and there you’ll find well-stocked supermarkets and several restaurants, some of which will deliver to Mang Yang.

The specialty food in the county of Uljin is crab—you’ll see pictures of crabs everywhere—so in order to be a good tourist, you really ought to try it at least once. Once you place your order, one of the perky crabs from a tank just outside the restaurant will be steamed up and then served in its full armor. After you eat the all the meat, you break into the head and eat the brains with rice (have to admist,  I haven't followed that custom myself).

If you didn’t make reservations, don’t worry. Mang Yang is basically made up of minbaks (a basic and inexpensive form of accommodation usually with floor bedding and often without a private bathroom) and pensions (a fancier sort of accommodation often equipped with a kitchen) with a few houses woven in and out, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a place to stay even during a holiday or peak season. If you’re looking for something a bit luxurious, try Haneul-bit Pension (하늘빛 펜션). Open only a year now, it is pristine and just a minute from the beach. The phone number is 054-781-3911 or 016-787-3911. If you’d like less costly accommodations, try a minbak at 054-782-2645 or another at 054-782-6127, both of which are right on the beach. Before forewarned, however, that if you look for accommodations on the Internet, that Mang Yang Pension is not actually in Uljin Mang Yang. I found this out the hard way. In Uljin, the taxi driver agreed to take me to Mang Yang Pension, but it simply wasn’t to be found. After making another call to Mang Yang Pension, we found out it was far, far away in Kojedo (거제도).

What to do there
Most of your time in Mang Yang ought to be devoted to relaxing and enjoying the beach, but there are a couple of attractions you might enjoy seeing/photographing - a rock that somewhat resembles a turtle and a Big Bell monument which sits upon a hill overlooking the ocean. If you are an active sightseer, in the nearby area, you can also visit a cave, a temple, and a few other tourist-like attractions. You’ll easily find a map and a sign near the beach that lists nearby attractions and their distance from Mang Yang.

When to visit
Obviously, warm months are the best time to visit Mang Yang, but if you like a winter beach, colder months are good, too. If you’re there in the wintertime, you’re likely to have the beach mostly to yourself.

How to get to Mang Yang from Seoul
Bus: From Gangbyeong Station (강병역) , take the bus to Uljin. Travel time is about five hours. From Uljin, take a taxi or bus to Mang Yang. By taxi, Mang Yang is about five minutes from Uljin.
Train: Take the train to Pohang. From Pohang, take a bus to Uljin and then a taxi or bus to Mang Yang.

Photo by Jimalee Sowell - Mang Yang beach with its white sand and blue water.

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