Thursday, October 13, 2011

Battle Scars, Pristine Beauty Make Yeonpyeong Island Unique

Yeonpyeong Island is still in the process of returning to its former state of peace and tranquility after it was shelled by North Korea in November. Only one boat operates between Incheon Yeonan Ferry Terminal and the island daily, so it is essential to check the timetable. Most of the people queuing up for tickets there are soldiers, perhaps due to the military provocation by the North last year. It takes about two hours to get to the island from the terminal.

The first thing that comes into view upon disembarking is the monument commemorating the victory of the first battle of Yeonpyeong in June 1999, next to Yeonyuk Bridge, which leads to the village.

Buildings on Yeonpyeong Island lie in ruin after the North Korean attacks in November last year. The damage done by the North Korean attacks is visible in the village. The bombed buildings still lie in ruin, and the walls are blackened from fire. People who lost their homes from the attacks are currently living temporary shelters built on the grounds of a primary school nearby.

In the northeastern part of the island lies Manghyang Viewpoint. This comes into view after a 30-minute walk along the coast. It offers visitors a spectacular view of the sea. In the center, a monument for those who left their hometowns during the 1950-53 Korean War has been erected. Behind it, there are telescopes giving visitors rare glimpses into North Korea.

Manghyang Viewpoint The Lighthouse Park is located in the southwestern part of the island, replete with beautiful natural scenery and a fascinating historical background. The lighthouse looks like an assembly of sugar cubes in different shapes. This used to guide yellow corbina fishing boats in the past. However, since 1974 when the light had to be turned off for reasons of national security, it has remained a dark and silent space.

Walking past the lighthouse on a small trail leads to a history museum dedicated to yellow corbina fishing. Pine tree leaves are strewn along the way by the wind. The history of the island and its traditional fishing culture are well documented here.

A view of Garaechilgi Beach The observatory on the second floor offers a great view of the natural environment as well as faint glimpses of North Korea. However the most breathtaking sight is that of picturesque Garaechilgi Beach in the northwest of the island.

Another viewpoint near the museum affords a better view of Garaechilgi Beach. As cool breezes wash in from over the ocean, tourists can appreciate magnificent views of pristine nature as high waves wash over rugged rocks.

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