Reach out to Pohang's 'Hand of Harmony'

Reach out to Pohang's 'Hand of Harmony'

by Mary B. Grimes
USAG Daegu Public Affairs

USAG DAEGU -- Being a little off base can take on a whole new meaning for U.S. Soldiers, family members, DoD civilians and retirees living in the Daegu area who want to get out and explore Korea's east coast. For those so inclined, a great place to start is the industrial city of Pohang, located just 71 kilometers (roughly 44.5 miles) from Camp Henry.

Home to POSCO, one of the world's largest steel companies, Pohang is also credited with having a number of other largely known and recognized places such as Jukdo Market," the country's largest traditional seafood market, the historic and picturesque Oeosa Temple, the breathtaking landscape surrounding Bogyeongsa Temple, and the ever popular Bukbu Beach that stretches more than 1700 meters along the coast of the East Sea.

Each of these locations are a must see for the individual traveler, as well as those units or organizations looking to do something that will further enhance their cultural experience while in the Land of the Morning Calm. However, there's more to this city of more than 500,000 people that is worth mentioning, and that's Homigot Beach where the "Hand of Harmony," an immense bronze structure of a hand rising up from the sea has become a popular place for natives and tourists alike.

Homigot, which is said to mean "village on a tiger's tail," is said to be the place where the sunrise can first be seen in Korea. The sculpture has been perfectly aligned so that as the sun rises, it shines through the fingers of the hand. Imagine for a moment, the shape of Korea on a map, and it becomes easier to envision the shape of a tiger's tail. That awareness helps all to better understand the importance of the tiger tail to any reference to Homigot.

The road to Homigot begins with the scenic drive from Daegu to Pohang. Getting away from the all too familiar day of meetings, formations, classes, and training, a chance to get on the open road and catch a glimpse of Korea's awesome Taebaek Mountain Range, puffy white clouds and blue skies, and the extended handshakes and smiles from people encountered at rest stops along the way, makes the journey unforgettable. Set out on the drive during the weekday or non-holiday, and the road trip will seem almost magical.

However, don't be dismayed. Regardless of what day of the week it is, the efficiency of the Daegu -Pohang Highway makes the 1 hour, 40 minutes drive more of an opportunity for pleasant conversation than angst and frustration.  The road from Daegu to Pohang is almost a straight shot. Upon entering the Pohang city limits, a sure sign that you're heading in the right direction will be indicated by the smoke billowing from POSCO's smokestacks and towers. Even so, road signs are easy to follow. The ride through town has POSCO industries on one side, and Hyundai on the other. Both take up a significant area of tiny Pohang, and both seem quite at home in this cozy coastal city.

Several kilometers beyond POSCO's industrial landscape the Pohang countryside captures the essence of a Korea long ago. Throughout the drive, aged tracts of farmland, along with building structures old and new, appear to stand in harmony. Approaching Homigot, the view of the East Sea is simply breathtaking, and immediately brings to mind just why getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life can make the Korean experience an unforgettable one. Parking at Homigot is not only easy, but places the traveler literally steps away from the seashore, and the massive "Hand of Harmony."

Streams of restaurants offering a variety of raw fish, vendors, seagulls, the Homigot lighthouse, and the sound of the rushing waves make it clear that garrison installation activities are far removed. At a glance, the "Hand of Harmony" seems overwhelming. With the East Sea as its backdrop, the structure almost instantly looks larger than life. Standing on the nearby observation deck provides another astonishing angle of the unique and much talked about landmark.

Directly across from the "Hand of Harmony" on dry land of course, is the New Millennium Memorial. Very easy to spot upon entering the Homigot location, New Millennium Memorial provides visitors with a close up look of the size and economy of the area. USAG Daegu and Area IV visitors will be glad to know that an explanation of the area is in English…at the push of a button.

Finally, for U.S. Soldiers, family members, DoD Civilians, and retirees looking to get away from the familiar, a tour of Pohang, and a visit to Homigot and the east coast, may be just what the doctor ordered. The ride is comfortable, the scenery breathtaking, and the experience unforgettable.

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