‘Purple Hydrangea’ under 760 pagoda trees…ready to burst into bloom!

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Teacher Park Hae-kyung is tired of being in a classroom full of kids who sleep or do other things during class time. “I want to disappear,” she says, so she goes on a day trip to an unfamiliar place. On his travels, he meets unexpected people and is touched by their grave consideration, but also finds himself longing for life and relationships.

This is the story of the online video service (OTT) travel drama “Park Ha-kyung’s Travelogue,” which was released on the 24th of last month. The drama reminds us that the essence of travelling is not in collecting photos for Instagram, but in ‘what you find in unfamiliar places’. Where are the best destinations to find your own special ‘something’? What is the best place to recommend to Park without hesitation?

‘Angel Island’ is another name for Sinan-gun, Jeollanam-do. It is home to a whopping 1004 islands. Many islands with strong personalities welcome travellers. Here are three islands that are worth packing a backpack for if you can walk, eat, and bruise. Uido, Tocho Island, and Bikum Island in southern Shinan County.

Hanunum Beach on Bijeum Island in Sinan County, Jeollanam-do. It is also known as ‘Heart Beach’.

Spectacular 80-metre dunes…a different kind of wind

A traveller who climbed the Pungseong Sand Dunes using the promenade next to Donmok Beach in Uido makes his way down to Seongchon Beach on the other side. By Mihyang Park

“It’s probably a sand dune (a dune created by the wind on the coast or in the desert) that was created six million years ago, and it’s really beautiful.” Park Heung-young, 59, mayor of Donmok-ri, Sinan-gun, was bragging on the 25th of last month. Located 65 kilometres from Mokpo, Uido is divided into Jinri and Donmori. The island covers an area of 10.7 square kilometres. It is a small island with only 217 inhabitants (as of 2022). The size of the island is nothing to brag about, but when Lee leads us through the winding streets of Donmok Village and along Donmok Beach, we’re blown away. It was an exotic landscape like the Namibian desert on the west coast of South Africa.

The sand dunes on the west side of Donmok Beach are as fluffy as a sweet castella made by pouring thousands of tonnes of fine flour into them. The dunes are 80 metres high and 50 metres wide, the largest in Korea, created by the intersection of seasonal winds such as northwest and southeast winds. The slope is 32 to 33 degrees.

Park says, “In the 1970s and 80s, many people used to lay fertiliser bags on the top of this dune and ride sand sleds. It was a lot of fun to go down the hill and immediately fall into Donmok Beach.” However, the dunes have been degraded by man’s indiscriminate touch and have become shabby. “Now, for conservation reasons, sand sledding is banned and you can’t go whizzing around the dunes, but you can come up on the boardwalk and see it.” “It’s closed until 31 December 2025, but we may open it later that year, depending on the state of conservation메이저놀이터,” says an official from the Western Office of Dadohai Marine National Park. Wooden stakes guide the forest path leading from Donmok Beach to the dunes. The walk, which takes about five to seven minutes, will take you past ferns, brambles, and other plants of all shapes and colours, which are also interesting to look at.

The wind is your first greeting on the hill. Don’t be afraid to let it ruffle your hair and blow your back. Because the wind in the Fengcheng Sand Dunes is special. It’s different from the breeze in the building forest, and it’s refreshing.

The promenade next to Donmok Beach. If you follow this path, you will reach a place where you can see Pungseong Sand Dunes. By Park Mi-hyang

Pungseong Sand Dunes. Mihyang Park

Donmok Beach, which looks like thin silk stretched over the sand, is also showing off its beauty. The waves roll in and out of sight without anyone noticing. The texture of the waves is different from the waves of the East Sea, which crash hard and fast. Lee boasts. “The red sunset is the best in Korea.” Even if he’s exaggerating, it’s no secret that the West Sea is beautiful. Novelist Kim Hoon also praised it in Boiling Ramen. “When the light that envelops the darkness tilts at an angle, the landscape reveals a distant and deep interior (…) When the water recedes, fragments of the red sunset fall and flutter on the mudflats.”

There are no restaurants on the island

Uido is so named because the two peninsulas jutting out from the west side of the island look like cow’s ears. During the Joseon Dynasty, they were both referred to as Black Sand Island, along with the current Black Sand Island. For this reason, the island is also associated with redfish.

At Jinri Wharf, where the remains of the island’s Joseon-era gun emplacements can be seen, there is a statue of Moon Sun-deuk (1777-1847), a redfish fisherman who was 1.5 times the size of an adult man. An Uido man, he returned from buying redfish in Taehsado, near Black Sand Island, in 1801, but was caught in a storm and drifted away. After being pushed to Okinawa, Japan, he crossed to China and tried to return, but encountered another storm and reached the Philippines. It was a long journey of three years and two months to return through Macau-China. After his return, Moon became the pride of the island. Zheng Weiqian, who was also living in exile in Wuidao, gave him the name ‘Chuncho’ (first time in the world) and wrote down his experiences. <Pyohae Shimal is a book that records these historical facts. The book, which records the culture and customs of Yugu (Okinawa) and Yeosong (Philippines) in detail, is considered to be of high historical value because it contains 112 local languages of the region at the time. “My grandfather, who was a merchant for generations, encountered foreign cultures while drifting, learned skills and actively spread them in Korea,” said Moon Jong-ok (68), a fifth-generation grandson of Moon Sun-deuk. Moon’s birthplace, restored last year, is five minutes from the marina.

Jong-ok Moon explains his life story in front of the statue of Moon Sun-duk, the redfish master.

The people of Wuido travel on “manicurists,” which are smaller than tillers. The roads are narrow, only 3 metres wide. It’s a walking tourist’s paradise. There are no restaurants on the island. You have to eat at one of the 20 or so guesthouses (about 60-80,000 won per night in summer, 50-60,000 won in winter). The food is as good as in a restaurant. The owner’s fish dishes are said to be excellent, as well as the foraged bamboo shoots, ferns, and wild flowers.

Loose Island at 6pm

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