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Sunday, 4 January 2015

National Parks in Korea, Part III: Hallyeo-Haesang National Marine Park

Hallyeo-Haesang National Marine Park (Hanja: 閑麗海上國立公園) is a national sea park that encompasses the most beautiful stretch of Korea’s south coast, covering parts of Sacheon City, Geoje City, TongYeong City, Hadong County and Namhae County of Southern Gyeongsang Province and Yeosu City of Southern Jeolla Province

The word 'Hallyeo' is a combination of two islets which are Hansando in TongYeong City, Southern Gyeongsang and Yeosu City (North Korean Dialect: Ryeosu, due to Du-eum Beopchik System), Southern Jeolla. In fact, these two islets played their instrumental role as the naval base of Joseon Dynasty during Japanese Imjin Invasion (1592-1598) where TongYeong becomes as the home of Gyeongsang Provincial Western Naval Fleet and Yeosu becomes as the home of Jeolla Provincial Eastern Naval Fleet respectively.

The total area which comprises of the Sangju-Mount Geumsan district, Namhae Bridge district, Sacheon district, TongYeong-Hansando Island district, Geoje-Haegeumgang Island district, and Yeosu-Odongdo Island district is 545.63 sq km (210.67 sq mi) with 395.49 sq km (152.70 sq mi) being marine area and 150.14 sq km (57.97 sq mi) being land area. Hallyeosudo which is known as the most beautiful waterway ever has 69 uninhabited islands and 30 inhabited islands spread out across the sea like jewels. The sedimentary rocks from the Mesozoic age create a mountainous range stretched out from the northeast to southwest, and the many capes, islets, and peninsulas constitute a typical rias coast.

Designated in December 31st 1968, Hallyeohaesang National Park has a total of 1,142 plant species including major species such as Red pine, Black pine, Common camellia, Serrata oak, Cork oak as well as rare species such as nadopungnan (Sedirea japonica), Daeheongnan (Cymbidium nipponicum) and the Korean winter hazel. The major animal species are Otter, Small-eared cat, and Badger. Overall there are 25 mammal species, 115 bird species, 16 reptile species, 1,566 insect species, and 24 freshwater fish species.

The sea-view of the Namhae section of Hallyeohaesang National Marine Park is particularly breathtaking. Here visitors will be captivated by the view of Sejondo Island, the Pipe Organ Valley and Ssangyonggul Cave. 

Sangju Beach, at two kilometer-long and 150 meter-wide, is the biggest beach on the south coast and is covered with silver-white sand. The pine forest carpeting the surrounding environment also offers visitors a refreshing atmosphere. 

Located nearby is 681-meter-high Mt. Geumsan, making the beach a place where vacationers can appreciate both the sea and the mountain at the same time. Other attractions available in this area are the 38 Attractions of Mt. Geumsan, and Irak Shrine (Historic Site No.232) and Chungnyeol Shrine (Historic Site No.233) dedicated to the great Admiral Chungmugong Yi Sunshin.