March 6, 2013
The Fantasy Five: Korean Islands
I’ve blathered on about my recent trip to Geumodo, where I inexplicably had a change of character and went hiking across the island of my own accord. Geumodo however marked the start of something that I’d always wanted to do in Korea – visit one of the nation’s many islands.
Sure, I’ve been to Jeju island before, where I stuffed my face with black pork and fish stew, saw a giant penis sheath and had a near brown pants catastrophe. Geumodo marked the first island I’ve been to that is really off-the-beaten path, though – something you could never say about Jeju, which is one of Korea’s top tourist draws (and rightly so). South Korea has a whole host of islands to explore, and these ones are at the top of my list.
1. Imjado || 임자도
Located in the West Sea, Imjado isn’t exactly the easiest place to get to, but that’s just part of the appeal. Home to Korea’s longest beach, a twelve kilometre stretch of soft, powdery sand that puts the more famous beaches of Busan to shame. Of all the Korean islands I’d like to visit, Imjado is the undisputed number one.
2. Baengnyeongdo (백령도)
Baengnyeongdo, or ‘White Crane Island’, comes with a great story to it. If the idea of morphing into an animal is a little hard for you to take in, then you can admire the view of North Korea. Baengnyeongdo is the most northerly point of South Korea, and it takes a few hours to reach it by ferry, with those few hours inching you ever closer to the crackpot state to the north of the border.
3. Marado (마라도)
Baengnyeongdo is the most northerly point of South Korea, and tiny little Marado is the most southerly of the Korean islands and thus Korea as a whole. I was supposed to visit the island with Gil Dong and his family as a day trip from Jeju, but alas the weather wasn’t cooperating and the ferry services were cancelled for the day. My reason for wanting to visit Marado? Well, if I’m going to visit the country’s most northern part, I may as well visit its most southern part, too.
4. Ulleungdo (울릉도)
Located in the east sea of Korea, Ulleungdo is an island of mystery that takes a good few hours to be reached by ferry from Pohang – the island has no airport. Famous for dried squid (bleargh!) and ridiculously chewy pumpkin candy (ooh!), Ulleungdo is probably the most famous of the Korean islands after Jeju, but without the tourist crowds.
5. Bijindo (비진도)
Bijindo comes highly recommended by friends, and I’ve heard many tales of magical camping trips and drinking soju on the beach. Supposedly shaped like a bra, Bijindo is blessed with forests and white sands, and has minimal tourist facilities. An island unheard of by most Koreans, let alone international tourists, Bijindo would be the perfect place to drop off the radar for a weekend away from Korea’s often same-same cities and hustle and bustle.
So there you have it, folks! Now, I want to hear from you! Which of these islands would you like to visit the most? Have you visited any Korean islands that you’ve loved that I haven’t mentioned here? Do you think there should be a thong shaped island to match Bijindo’s bra shape? Let us know in the comments below, or shout out on Facebook or Twitter.