Sunday, December 21, 2008
New Year's stuff down south.
The sun rises over the water off Yeosu's Hyangiram hermitage.
Sorry, I meant to post this a while ago. The Joongang Ilbo recently had profiles on three places down here where people like to go to watch the first sunrise of the year: Namhae's Boriam hermitage, Yeosu's Hyangiram hermitage, and Suncheon's Songgwangsa temple. In addition to those three, Haenam's 땅끝---the southernmost point on peninsular South Korea---and the summit of Jirisan are the two other popular spots.
There are sunrise festivals (일출축제) all over the country. As for Jeollanam-do, there are ones in Goheung, Mokpo, Wando, and Yeongam, plus the ones mentioned in the first paragraph. I've been told that Hwa-po (화포), in Suncheon's Byeolryang-myeon, is a place of some local popularity to catch the first sunrise of the year. See for yourself:
It's across Suncheon Bay from . . . Suncheon Bay, just facing in the opposite direction so as to greet the rising sun. Buses numbered 81 and 82 go from Suncheon Station to Hwa-po , though only 81 looks like it'd get you there on time, as it starts its route at 5:55 am.
Out of all those, I think I'd most like to go to Hyangiram for New Year's. The thing is, unless you have your own transportation, or plan to spend the night, you might be out of luck as some of these places are pretty remote. Depending on how early buses leave, and how far away each place is, you might be able to pack yourself onto a bus. I haven't found a comprehensive listing of sunrise times, but you can calculate it for yourself, in Korean, via this page, or you can check last year's times here. The sunrise in Busan, for example, is scheduled for 7:32 am and that should give you an idea about times around the country. No information on any of this in English, because everyone knows foreigners don't care about this kind of stuff.
As for me I'm going to spend dawn on Busan's Haeundae Beach. It's pretty, popular, picturesque, and easy to get to. It also sees one of the earliest sunrises on the peninsula. Unlike most teachers, though, I have to work on the 31st, which means if there's a lot of traffic that evening I might not make it to Haeundae until 2009.
If you have any questions or anything to add, please leave a comment. See if we can't dig up more information for some of these local festivals.