EXPLORING KOREA: Yeosu's Picturesque Attractions

by Reginal Walton, 26/10/2007

When I first arrived in Korea in August of 2000 I was very nervous because outside of short trips to Mexico from my home town of Los Angeles it was the first international adventure I’d ever gone on.  However, I was also excited because I was leaving the States to do something I’d always wanted to do which was live abroad in a foreign culture.

Although I’d just finished law school and had done some time at a big investment bank, I found that lifestyle wasn’t for me.  I loved my work address at the tip of Market and California Streets and nice view of the San Francisco Bay, but I wanted more freedom. 

That’s when while lamenting my fate over dinner with some friends a pair of brothers who’d taught in Asia suggested I explore that as an option. Initially, I was hesitant because I’d always envisioned myself living abroad in Europe.  However, the more I looked into it, the more it seemed like a good fit.  This was because since I had a graduate level education I would be considered for university positions which served the dual role of giving me both the vacation time and pay to travel when school was out of session.

I started talking to my Korean-American friends some of whom had been to or even spent part of their lives in Korea.  Based on their advice, I decided to start my adventure in a small town so I could get a more genuine feel for Korean culture from a place that was untainted by Western sensibilities.

I chose a small city named Yeosu located in the far south of Korea in the Jeollanamdo province.  I flew in from San Francisco to Gimpo Airport and from there transferred to a domestic flight to Yeosu. 

My first impression of Korea flying into Seoul was the tall boxy apartment complexes which dotted the city landscape.  However, my second impression flying south to Yeosu was the verdant slopes and hills.  I arrived in Yeosu with no problem and was met by Professor Park the very friendly head of my department.  Right away I knew I was in a pleasant place.  The scenery actually reminded me of the fertile hills of Georgia where my parents are from.  Yeosu is known for having one of the most picturesque locations in its province and I would go as far as to say in the country as, being a native Californian, I prefer coastal.

Because it is a small city the people tend to be very friendly and curious towards foreigners.  While Yeosu is a small city it has a few wonderful local attractions.  There is Odong-do (“do” in Korean means island, so Odong Island.)  Odong-do is a nice place to take a stroll in the early spring when the trees are blossoming.  There is also a lighthouse and a small Buddhist temple on the island.  There is Masong-ni Beach which has warm dark sand.  The locals believe the sand has healing power.   

One of the most popular sites is Hyangi-ram which is a Buddhist hermitage which sits atop a cliff near the southern tip of Tolsan-do.  Hyangi-ram is famous for being a perfect place to watch the sunrise and look at the small islands dotting the coast. If you would like to travel by water to Busan, Yeosu is a great place to do it because these two cities are connected by hydrofoil cruise through the Hallyo Waterway National Park.  The national park is a series of small islands and steep outcroppings with lush plants set off by the emerald water. The boat will also stop at islands so you can explore.  

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