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(Yonhap Feature) Yeosu: scenic, historical southern port city full of attractions

2017/10/27 09:00

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By Kim Boram

SEOUL, Oct. 27 (Yonhap) -- On a cable car that carries tourists over the southern coast of Yeosu, the sky of the southern seaport blushes crimson at twilight and dyes the sea and small islets. As the sun disappears into the scarlet waters and the dusky light clouds the rough coastline, the town's skyline lights up.

You can almost hear the lyrics of "Yeosu Night Sea," a popular song highlighting the beauty of the city.

"The Yeosu night sea, there is a beautiful story underneath this light. I want to let you hear it, so I call you. ... I'm at the Yeosu night sea, the Yeosu night sea."

   Busker Busker, a South Korean band, knows the beauty and charm of Yeosu's night life that clearly defines the horizon and highlights the maritime view of the islands and bridge.

Since the Korean pop group gained popularity in 2012, when the town hosted the World Expo, Yeosu, some 455 kilometers south of Seoul, has attracted vista seekers, hiking enthusiasts and food lovers from across the country and inspires them to expect more in the small port town.

At the break of dawn, the calm and quiet is broken by the usual bustles of a mid-size city with its citizens getting ready for a new day.

Early birds who climb around Dolsan Island, a small islet connected to Yeosu by a bridge, and make the trek up a trail through a narrow crevice can reach Hyangiram, a 1,373-year-old Buddhist hermitage perched at the top of a mountain.

From there they can enjoy a stunning view of the ocean and the sun rising over the waters at the break of day. They can even glimpse the not too distant shoreline, peppered with cliffs, islands and peninsulas where diligent fishermen do their daily routine after returning from midnight fishing. The sound of monks chanting and beating wood blocks from the hermitage refreshes the minds of visitors.

Sunrise at Hyangiram in Yeosu (Yonhap) Sunrise at Hyangiram in Yeosu (Yonhap)

At one end of the cable car that is a must for visitors, people can tour an island that looks like a huge camellia blossom between fall and spring. Odongdo, another small island near Yeosu, is covered in bamboo groves and camellia trees that bloom and color it in scarlet during the November-April period.

A half-hour slow walk along the paths leads you to the best harbor view at the lighthouse observatory.

Camellias at Odong Island in Yeosu (Yonhap) Camellias at Odong Island in Yeosu (Yonhap)

For hikers, Yeosu is not a bad choice. Mount Gubong and Mount Ansim are the best for closer hiking trails with an elevated perspective of the coast and marina.

Adding to the natural treasures, the region's outstandingly rich historical background can be appealing to many and educational for kids.

Admiral Yi Sun-sin, the 16th-century hero renowned for his victories over Japanese invasion forces from 1592-1598, invented the turtle ship, or "geobukseon," here at the naval base of Yeosu. Replicas of the ship and statues of the famous warrior can be found all around the city.

The naval headquarters of Jinnamgwan is one of the actual reminders of Yi's military achievements and his many talents. It is the largest standing one-story wooden building in South Korea, and a small museum there gives visitors a glimpse of Admiral Yi's heyday as a fun way to get immersed in local history.

Jinnamgwan in Yeosu (Yonhap) Jinnamgwan in Yeosu (Yonhap)

Besides the many sights, a trip to Yeosu is not complete without partaking in the culinary treasures, with many lauding it as one of the best experiences for hungry vacationers.

Recently, the southern port city has emerged as a hot spot and the top destination for a gastronomic pilgrimage for those foodie field trips that are in vogue in the country.

Seafood restaurants in Yeosu, in particular, warrant merit. Yeosu's signature is marinated raw crab, called "gejang." A full dinner course will include a plate of gejang and a number of various side dishes and "gat kimchi" made with mustard leaves from Dolsan Island. Each side dish of kimchi, cooked greens, seaweed, roasted fish and red hot stew is tasty and delicious.

A dish of raw sole fish seasoned with spicy sauce and vegetables is also another specialty in Yeosu.

For after-dinner coffee, locals recommend taking a seat at one of the plentiful romantic cafes around Dolsan Bridge and enjoying the night view of Yeosu, while listening to "Yeosu Night Sea." As darkness falls, Yi Sun-sin Square alongside the shore guards the nightlife. Young street artists busk and show their performances ranging from hip-hop and ballads to dance.

Then you will feel the heart of Yeosu.

brk@yna.co.kr

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