Korea’s Weirdest Beach
When Jared’s parents visited over the summer, we wanted to take them to the beach.
It couldn’t be just any beach, because they’re from Australia – pretty tough competition in the beach department.
By a stroke of good luck (and google), I discovered Jeongdongjin. I knew it was the place for us when I saw pictures of The Ship.
The ship is actually the Sun Cruise Hotel, where, according to the website, “Romantic Propose at Sun Cruise: Invite you to the special resort for making your impressiver love confession.”
‘Impressiver’ is not a typo.
We didn’t stay in the ship, opting instead for a 25,000 won/night yeogwan near the railway station. But we did walk up the hill to check out the hotel grounds, which include a sculpture garden.
For non-guests, it costs approximately 5,000 won to enter the sculpture gardens and ship. The fee is worth paying, because there are some one-of-a-kind sculptures scattered about.
There was also a totem…garden.
Jeongdongjin is famous in Korea for its sunrise. The Sun Cruise Resort website even calls it ‘the most beautiful sun rising in the world.’ The best spot is supposed to be here, behind the reverential hands.
I didn’t watch the sunrise from the hands. I wasn’t even planning on watching the sunrise at all, but the noise outside our window woke me up at 5:00am. I pulled some clothes on and shuffled out to the beach.
The waterfront was alive. Tents were open, selling cold drinks, prawn-flavored potato chips and steamed corn. Couples in matching outfits were strewn about the beach, cuddling each other and staring out towards the East sea. I didn’t see any love confessions, but it is likely that some happened – Jeongdongjin is also one of Korea’s most popular proposal locations.
The thing that makes Jeongdongjin stand out is the fact that the Korean drama, ‘Hourglass,’ was filmed here. On December 31st, the town rotates a huge hourglass to symbolize the start of a new year.
When we went, the hourglass was broken. Bonus.
As if the ship and hourglass weren’t enough, Jeongdongjin is also home to a Guinness-record breaking train station: it is the closest railroad station to the sea in the world.
To me, that says it is the most likely railroad station to fall victim to the sea, but the residents of Jeongdongjin don’t seem to see it that way.
For dinner, we took Jared’s parents to one of the beach tent restaurants set up in the sand. Instead of a menu, the food choices were written on neon colored posterboard and hung from the ceiling. We chose four dishes that sounded vaguely familiar, like pork cutlet, kimchi tofu, black bean noodles and something called chicken bal. It wasn’t until the food came out that we remembered what ‘bal’ meant.
It means foot.
We had unwittingly ordered a plate of chicken feet.
To my surprise, Jared’s dad, Allen, tucked right in, chewing on foot after foot.
“I was hungry,” he confessed.
My co-teacher later explained that Korean women often eat chicken’s feet because they contain collagen.
“Good for your skin,” she said.
If anyone has experienced smoother skin from a regular diet of chicken feet, let me know. Until then, I’ll pass.
Jeongdongjin: Romance, drama, world records, and chicken feet.
Good luck finding that on an Australian beach.
Jeongdongin is 15 minutes south of Gangneung by train, on the line to Seoul.