Jeongdongjin is one of the most fascinating seaside communities in South Korea because of its almost odd combination of landmarks and attractions.
Just a few minutes train ride from the town of Gangneung, Jeongdongjin has the distinction of having the closest train station to a sea in the world! The view of the sea and the shore is in itself worth checking out that train ride. But this coastal village will not cease to surprise you. Here, you will find two old and historically important nautical vessels. The first one is an American warship that served during the Korean War, while the second on is a real North Korean submarine.
Jeongdongjin Beach may not be given much attention by the travel guide blogs’ but as you approach this 250-meter sandy stretch, you will soon realize that it is a topnotch destination. It has a supple powdery white sand beach and borders very transparent water. The train track is just separated from the beach sand by a short stretch just footsteps away. There are three main swimming spots here – at the Moraeshigae (Hourglass) Park, at the Jeongdongjin Seawall and in front of the Jeongdongjin Railway Station.
Jeongdongjin beach is even more spectacular during sunrise, with the early morning sun dramatically casting its first light to the horizon, spreading out over the ocean and eventually to the train station and surrounding pine trees. It truly is a romantic and beautiful sight. So make the effort to wake up early and head down to the beach to enjoy one of nature’s grandest show.
If you spot more than usual number of Korean couples holding hands doing the same thing, don’t be surprised. Jeongdongjin was the chosen setting for the ultra-romantic Korean soap opera entitled Moraeshigae which means “Sandglass”. And ever since the beach has become popular to couples, soap opera fanatics and hopeless romantics.
The beach in the village is included in an area often called Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park. During the New Year, the park becomes the venue for the Sunrise Festival. Aside from watching concerts and fireworks, hundreds gather during the festival to see the ‘turning of the New Millennium Hourglass’ ceremony that signifies the beginning of a new year. This hourglass needs a whole year for all the sand to run to the bottom.
If you prefer to explore the rest of the park in style, the Jeongdongjin Sunrise Tourist Train that goes around Sunrise Park would be perfect. It made its debut run in 1997, and has been popular among tourists ever since. If you would like to see the gorgeous sunrise in Jeongdongjin from a different angle, trek your way to the summit of the Mt. Goseong, situated at the center of the park. On the summit lies the Yeongin Pavilion, which is an excellent spot to watch the first rays of the sun.
If you look at many photos of Jeongdongjin, you will notice the very conspicuous cruise-ship like structure perched on a steep hill overlooking the sea. This famous boat-shaped building is actually the Sun Cruise Resort. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a guest to get a closer look at this boat hotel. After paying the $5 entrance fee, you can gain access to its observation deck, which offer impressive sea views. The hotel is also equipped with an indoor sky lounge restaurant, where you can get a wine and dine.