Monday, January 18, 2010

Korea Road Trip: Part 7

You made it folks, for I am finally going to reveal the last day of our road trip around Korea. As you recall we were in Busan enjoying New Year's Day. After we frolicked around on the beach JH said he was going to show me a special place, something called "Suicide Cliff." I put together in my head that he was going to take me to a special and well known sea-cliff.

We ended up driving to Taejongdae park which is located on the island of Yeongdo-gu in Busan. On our way we drove past the infamous Busan port where many foreigners have left to do visa-runs in Japan.

It was starting to get crowded at the park entrance, but I think we arrived at a good time. The air was a bit chilly but the sun was shining enough to make things warm.

We went up a road to the elephant-train waiting area and bought our tickets for the ride.

There we joined families and couples as they waited for the train. We waited for a long time, which was long enough that I noticed some people were eating snacks like steamed corn and Odeng (fish cake).

Finally,  it was our turn and so we got on and made the way up the winding hillside.

This park is known for many natural phenomenons, which include 200 types of trees, fantastic sea cliffs and exposed geology, along with a lighthouse and temple. It also comes with, of course, some history. For instance it is said that the park was named after King Tejong Meyeol from the Silla Kingdom because he practiced archery in this area after unification of the Three Kingdoms. In addition there is a social significance to this spot being:
At the entrance is a monument to the five neutral nations that contributed medical support during the Korean War (1950-1953).

 We made our way around up to the stop where the Observation platform was.

The observatory had a restaurant inside and also a deck outside for looking out across the Sea of Korea or South Sea....hmmm.

No matter what you want to call it, looking out at a huge body of water is always a breathtaking sight. Supposedly you can see far off islands if you look closely...
On clear days, you can see Japan's Oryukdo and Tsushima Islands from the observatory.

From here we left the observatory deck and moved onto the next attraction the lighthouse and the "suicide cliff."

To get to the lighthouse area you had to walk down a series of stairs to the edge of a cliff. I enjoyed the walking down part but not the walking up when we were coming back. But let's not dwell on the sad stuff, because what I saw was really great.

After many stairs you come to a point that is kind of in the middle. Here is another observation deck where you can also rest your legs.

We are getting closer~

What you are looking at here is called Shinsonhae or the "Suicide Rock". Basically it is a large and flat rock that was once under the ocean but due to geological reasons is exposed today.

Shinseonhae is a large and flat rock, which is located on the right side of lighthouse in Taejongdae.

Shinseondae got its name as it was told that Taoist hermits used to hang around here in the past.

Taoist hermit rocks in Taejongdae. It has been told that there used to be handwriting of 'Shinseondae' by Choi Chi won, one of the famous scholars in Shiila period.
Why "suicide rock"? Because the cliffs of the island were unfortunately famous for people jumping off of them. Since then the government has made a monument to these folks (the mother and child statue -- not pictured).

But I think nowadays one needs to look past this sad history and try to take in some of the mystical and geological wonders of this place.

On the way there...

Ah....the geology. I secretly love geology, because it explains so much about the Earth that is our home. And I was awe struck by what I saw at this island.

It was amazing that we could go out and walk on the "Suicide cliff" without anyone nearby really making sure we didn't fall off. There weren't any ropes or chained off areas with signs warning us of the big fall downward. So in this respect it felt like we were allowed to be little pioneers.

Looking at that picture you also have to take in the mythical tale that surrounds what you are seeing. Look in the upper right area where a spire (tall rock) is coming out. This has a legend behind it:

Under the lighthouse of this resort is a rock called Sinseon Rock, named after the myth that gods and goddesses came down here to relax. At this rock is a figure called Mangbuseok, named after the story of a woman who waited for her husband who had been taken to Japan. Taejongdae is also famous for the ritual of praying for rain, performed when there are droughts, and rain on the 10th of lunar May is called the 'Taejong Rain'.
Mangbooseok stands lonely right on the Taosit hermits' rock.

Moonbooseok means 'stone waiting for husband'.

The story is about a legendary faithful wife who died and was turned to stone waiting for her husband the stone on which a faithful wife stood waiting for her husband until she perished You feel sad just looking at the rock.

 Poor thing! I hope I never become a stone waiting for my husband... But seriously folks that is a nice myth to place upon this geological sight.

To get out there we headed down some stairs through a little tunnel where on the tiles many folks had put their well wishes up.

Once out of the little tunnel you make your way to where the cafe and museum are in front of you, along with on the left a view of another seacliff.

We made our way onto that big slab of rock.

To simplify the geological history of this area I am going to quote for you from a website:
Here is unparalleled scenery harmonized with fantastically-shaped rocks eroded by water, surging waves, and subtropical forests.  Sinseonam, an uplifted coast under the lighthouse and the most beautiful in Taejongdae, was formed 120,000 years ago. The present Taejongdae was formed after the forth, that is the last, thawing epoch by the intermittent rising of the ocean floor.
That first sentence that describes how we are able to see the rocks today is what fascinated me the most while I sat down and looked up at the sea-cliff. I couldn't help but feel small compared to the gigantic history before my eyes. In this area there are places where you can even spot dinosaur tracks. It was another travel moment in my life where I felt I had come to a special place and it was not by coincidence.

Another exciting part about this site was hearing the waves crash upon the cliff down below. No wonder this area possesses such spiritual and cultural significance to Korea.

I loved looking at the layers of different rock-beds that formed in this outcrop. Some were horizontally, while others came about in circular formations.

Well JH must of grown tired of me sitting and staring at the rocks, plus it was cold and windy out so we both figured it was time to get our butts inside the cafe. We did so and warmed up with some ramyeon and tea.

Afterwards we headed back to the elephant train to go back to the car, where we would head out to Seoul.

I took a picture of this sign because in those brownish squares were the listing of park hours during the seasons. I liked how they cut down the seasons to just Summer and Winter. It fits perfectly with the theory that Korea has only two real seasons. haha

On our way we stopped at a galbi place and had a bite to eat before the drive back.

And so our journey around Korea comes to an end. Although we explored just a fraction of what Korea has to offer I enjoyed the trip very much especially seeing new areas and many relics. I hope you enjoyed the trek I took you on and I promise to go on more all the while sharing with you my experiences.

Till next time!


  1. What a nice place!!. hehe..
    BUT!! Oryukdo is not Japan's island!! It belong to Busan in Korea..^^ and I didn't know about 'Sinseon Rock' even though I am real Korean..><

    hmmm, Okay,
    Where do you want to go next??

  2. A very nice place - I actually made my way down there last summer. It's a lot of pictures to go through, but your commentary is highly worth reading :) Keep up the great writing!

  3. Joy, Thanks for the offer of the free furniture, but I'm already starting to feel cramped with the furniture I have... I hope you find someone to take things off your hands!

  4. Hey no problem... I am thinking I will end up going to the flea market when it gets warmer and sell my stuff there...if you wanna come too that would be cool ^^

  5. WOW!
    What an incredible place.
    Beautiful blue water and amazing cliffs, rocks, etc...
    Reminds me of the coast of Maine.
    I got a bit dizzy looking at some of the photos!
    Looks like the kind of place one might want to revisit in the "other" season!

    phenomenons (don't think it's an English word) = phenomena

    phenomenon - singular
    phenomena - plural

  6. Thanks Mom~ I think spring would be nice (haha) ...there would be a lot of flowers. Or summer. . the cool breeze would help the summer heat.


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