Seonyudo Island: A hidden treasure in Gunsan, South Korea

Photos by ChiHon Kim
Photos by ChiHon Kim

Seonyudo Island: A hidden treasure in Gunsan, South Korea

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

My trip to Gunsan was a series of unexpected accidents and coincidences. It started out with a rear-end collision on the highway — a great way to initiate a trip, but the worry soon subsided as I was set on enjoying and continuing this journey despite the rocky start.

This detour gave me an unplanned stroll along Jangmi-dong Street near Kunsan Air Base and a visit to the Sinheung-dong, the area where weathy Japanese merchants and landlords lived during the Colonial Period. This last point of interest was a suggestion by one of the guests at the lodging where I spent the night. My visit to the region was made all the more interesting by this series of events and some of the interesting characters I met along the way, which also led to exploring and learning more about the beauty of the West Sea and the charm of Seonyudo Island.

Seonyudo Island

Seonyudo Island is one of the West Sea’s hidden treasures. Taoist hermits were said to gain their miraculous powers here. Today, this island is considered the most beautiful of the Gogunsan’s 63 islands.

Trek the easy trail

Seonyudo Island is connected to the nearby Munyeodo, Jangjado, and Daejangdo islands, so you can enjoy all of them on foot.

Course A is 11 kilometers long and includes stops at Manjubong, a prayer lighthouse, and Daejangbong peak. This 140-meter-high peak will give you great views of the surrounding scenery and Seonyudo Island.

Another great spot is the wooden deck along Seonyudo’s northern coastline. From the deck, you’ll get a stunning view of the open seas and the calming sounds of the waves hitting the shore. Check out Myeongsasimni Beach with white sands stretching across 1.5 kilometers great for a picnic and swimming on a hot summer’s day.

Zipline across the ocean

For adventure-seekers, there’s nothing quite like a zipline. Try your hand at this thrilling attraction near Myeongsasimni Beach’s entrance. The Seonyu Sky SUN Line is 45 meters above sea level and at 700 meters long, is the longest over-ocean wire in South Korea. Hop on and when you land back on your feet, you’ll be on Solsum Island.

From afar, I didn’t realize this was a zipline, but then I heard the screams by those zipping through. I couldn’t resist and did not regret the thrilling ride over the glittering ocean waves. Sky SUN Line also offers boat and yacht rides to other islands at reasonable prices.

Address: 136, Seonyubuk-gil, Okdo-myeon, Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-do
Use Waze to drive to Sky SUN Line (선유 스카이썬라인)
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mar-Apr), 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (May-Jun), 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Jul-Aug), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sep-Dec),
Closed in Jan & Feb. 
Phone: 010-8422-7334, 063-463-5602

Mud flats and clam digging

South Korea’s mudflats on the Yellow Sea coast are considered the world’s top five, and many tourists visit every year as the large variance in sea level provides an optimal opportunity to experience this unique marine phenomenon. To enjoy this attraction, you will be charged 5,000 won (about $4.15) to catch sea creatures and rent digging gear. I picked the wrong time to visit because the tide was too high, and I couldn’t dig for clams at all.

Address: 78-3 Seonyudo-ri, Okdo-myeon, Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-do
Use Waze to drive to Seonyu Island parking lot
Hours: Weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Weekends 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Rent an electric scooter

One of the most convenient (and most fun) ways to get around is by electric scooter or bicycle. I was running low on time so I didn’t get to enjoy this feature during my visit. There are many rental shops around the island offering scooters at prices ranging from 15,000 won (or $12.42) to 20,000 won per hour. This mode of transportation will help you get the most out of sightseeing, so consider it when planning your trip.

Rental Shop
Address: 111, Seonyubuk-gil, Okdo-myeon, Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-do
Hours: Weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Weekends 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Phone: 010-7428-8989

View Video!

It’s a perfect day for an outing!
nol-leo-ga-gi jo-eun nal-ssi-ne-yo!

Why don’t you travel to Seonyudo island with me?
jeo-rang ga-chi seon-yu-do yeo-haeng gal-lae-yo?

Look over there. I can see the ocean!
jeo-gi jom bwa-yo. ba-da-ga bo-yeo-yo!

Where is the nearest parking lot around here?
ga-kka-un ju-cha-jang-i eo-di-e iss-seub-ni-kka?

I’d like to rent an electric scooter.
Jeon-gi seu-ku-teo-reul bil-li-go si-peo-yo.

How much is it per hour?
han si-gan-e eol-ma-in-ga-yo?

The view is really nice!
gyeong-chi-ga neo-mu joh-a-yo!

Lee Sung Dang Bakery

If you’re hankering for some sweets or a carb fix, make sure you visit the oldest bakery in South Korea. And it’s located near the Hwadam Inn. The bakery run by Japanese during the Colonial Period, but Koreans took it over after World War II ended in 1945.

The bakery’s signature items are the sweet red bean bread and vegetable bread. I tried to get my hand on the popular red bean bread but was unsuccessful as the lines were long to get into the store.

Lee Sung Dang Bakery has an annex shop where I was able to sample other delicious breads. The reason this bakery is famous is not just because of its long history or the taste of its bread. The owner is known for donating bread to the local orphanages and nursing homes in the community.

The bakery was a good place for me to wrap up my long travel to Gunsan with its various and delicious slices of bread and a cup of tea.

Address: 177, Jungang-ro, Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-do, Use Waze to drive to Lee Sung Dang (이성당):
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fri, Sat 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Phone: 063-445-2772

Hwadam Inn

This cozy and well-organized inn is only a five-minute-walk from the Museum of Modern History. The Hwadam Inn is a two-story wooden building which was originally a family home during the Japanese colonial era in 1932.

On the first floor, there is a four-person room where I stayed. The second floor has double and triple rooms featuring Japanese tatami floors. The guesthouse is known for its nightly party where guests are invited to share travel tips and food together.

If you have no idea where to go in Gunsan, this is probably a good spot to meet likeminded people with good ideas of where to go. The owner of the accommodation speaks English and also offers inexpensive tours (20,000 won) which will show you the secret, locals-only spots.

Address: 28 Jungang-dong, Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-do
Phone: 010-9292-4970

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