Officially called Namhaedo Island, Namhae in Gyeongsangnam-do is the fifth largest island in Korea and just one of the 70-plus islands off the southern coast that make up the Korean archipelago. A large section of the area was designated as Hallyeohaesang National Park and boasts an outstanding natural environment with splendid landscapes. Namhae in particular features the rice paddies of Gacheon Daraengi Village, developed by the local people; Geumsan Mountain, part of the Hallyeohaesang National Park overlooking the sea; and Jukbangryeom in the Jijok Strait, a time-honored fishing practice in Korea; all of which were designated places of scenic beauty by the government. Another interesting traditional feature is Mulgeon Windbreak Forest, a designated natural monument that serves to both block the sea breeze and lure fish. Set off to Namhae for beautiful seascapes and scenic views unique to Korea!
Nam-myeon in Namhae-gun mostly consists of coastal cliffs. As such, it is exposed to the rough sea winds and has poor quality soil. Gacheon Daraengi Village is backed by Seolheulsan Mountain (480 meters above sea level) and faces a steep coastal cliff. The village is famous for its terraced paddy fields, not found to this degree anywhere else in Korea. These terraced paddy fields were artificially created on the mountain slope to make way for rice farming. The size of each terrace depends on the degree of the slope.
Just beyond the village, the road divides into a coastal path and Gacheon Jiget-gil Trail, a walking path leading to the terraced fields. If you go down to the coast, you will be walking on a suspension bridge connected to the bedrock; the view of the waves crashing down below the cliffs is splendid.
With a name that means beautiful as silk, Geumsan Mountain is a significant mountain that represents Namhae and is a part of the Hallyeohaesang National Park. Located just below the summit of Geumsan Mountain is Boriam Hermitage. Legend has it that visitors will be granted one wish at this temple. The temple’s statue of the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva overlooking the Namhae region is one of the three major Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statues in Korea. To save time and energy, you can drive up the mountain until just below the hermitage. From the summit of Geumsan, you can get a bird’s-eye-view of Sangju Silver Sand Beach below, which blends well with the surrounding mountains and cliffs. The view of Hallyeohaesang National Park from Boriam Hermitage is recognized as one of the best scenic views in Namhae.
With clean, clear water and a quality mud flat, the sea of Namhae is great for water sports. The most famous beach in Namhae is Sangju Silver Sand Beach, named for the beautiful sandy beach. The 2 kilometer-long pine tree grove surrounding the sandy beach in a semi-circle offers another splendid scene. With Mokseom Island in front of the fan-shaped beach and the mountains on either side, the beach forms gentle waves and shallow waters, making it ideal for swimming and water activities.
The nearby Dumo Village is well-known for leisure sports like sea rafting, and kayaking, as well as fishing and mudflat activities like collecting littleneck clams. In addition, Dumo Village blossoms with canola flowers in spring and buckwheat in fall, providing splendid scenery all year round.
Looking down below from the German Village, you will see a long line of trees on the coast that make up the Mulgeon Windbreak Forest. The trees were planted about 300 years ago to protect the village against vigorous sea winds as well as attract fish with the vivid green colors of the leaves.
Jukbangryeom is a unique fishing practice that can only be seen in Namhae. The name refers to the bamboo poles used to set a trap in an open-fan shape. This V-shaped installation on the sea can be seen from Changseongyo Bridge. The trap is usually used to catch anchovies, but can also be used for hairtail, mackerel pike, pomfret, and shrimp. In particular, jukbang myeolchi, anchovy caught in Jukbangryeom, commands the highest price and is sold nationwide. There are many restaurants within Namhae that offer dishes made of anchovies such as the myeolchi ssambap (anchovy and vegetable wraps with rice) and myeolchi hoe (raw anchovy). Get a taste of the local cuisine while catching the sunset over Jijok Strait.
The German Village was built to accommodate Koreans who returned after having lived in Germany for many years. The village is home to many beautiful residential buildings with white exteriors and orange roofs. Most of the buildings have a German name like Heidelberg or Frankfurt. As you walk up to the village from its entrance, you can get a better view of the colorful village blending strikingly well with the blue sea. Visitors can also get a firsthand experience of German culture by visiting the Namhae German Exhibition Hall, German Culture Experience Center, and House N Garden. If you’re hungry, feast on German sausage and craft beer!
* This column was last updated in July 2020, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.