Fishing for a Break? Here's How

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Fishing for a Break? Here's How

The sea off Inchon in Kyonggi province is home to more than 100 islands, of which 25 are inhabited. Each island has its own unique shape and beautiful scenery, making all inviting to spring visitors. Island is do in Korean - simply add it to the end of the island's name when referring to it.

Deokjeok archipelago (Deokjeok-gundo)

Deokjeok-gundo is a group of small islets, including Soya, Mun-gap, Guleop, Baek-a, Ji and Ul islands. Deokjeok island, the main island of the archipelago, means "island on the deep sea." The archipelago is so beautiful that it is often called a "little pearl," and yet it is only two or three hours' travel from Seoul.

Bijobong, a 292-meter peak in the middle of Doekjeok island, is famed for its graceful, mysterious appearance. Bijobong and other peaks nearby are popular climbing courses in the area. The view from Bijobong over the west coast around sunset, is, in a word, spectacular. Strolling through the woods along one of the three paths that lead to the magnificent peak is liberating for mind and body.

Seopori beach, about 50 meters wide and 2 kilometers long, located at the foot of Bijobong, boasts fine, clean sand. That, along with the shade created by the grove of 300-year-old pine trees at its rear, means it is considered one of the best resorts on the west coast.

Batjireum beach is another attraction on Deokjeok island. The beach, although smaller than Seopori, is great for some rest and meditation. Sitting on the beach surrounded by the peculiarly shaped rocks, gazing at the scenery on the shore and listening to the sound of the gulls is a guaranteed stress-buster.

Other well-known spots on Deokjeok island are Seondanyeo and Neungdong pebble beach. Seondanyeo, the three peaks that jut out of the sea off the island's shore, are the setting of a folk tale about a brother and sister. According to the tale, the brother and sister fell in love, but the sister, racked with guilt for their incestuous love, died. She then became a nymph and ascended to heaven, shedding tears of blood, at Seondanyeo.

Neungdong pebble beach is mostly famed for its beautiful sunsets. Behind the beach, there are many kinds of reeds and fine trees.

Several islanders are famous for supplying special products. Jeong Chang-jun sells additive-free dried laver, which costs 4,000 won ($3) for 100 sheets. Kim Jong-hwan and Jo Yeong-seon sell shiitake mushrooms, but according to Mr. Kim, as spring has been dry thus far, the yield of shiitake mushrooms has been poor.

Deokjeok archipelago is also famous for health products like black goat meat and arrowroot taffy (chikyeot in Korean). Black goat meat, sold for 10,000 to 20,000 won, is supposedly good for your health. Arrowroot can be chewed raw or ground into a juice.

Jangbong island, Mo island, Si island, and Sin island

Jangbong, Mo, Si and Sin islands are only about 10 minutes from Yeongjong island, home to the new Incheon International Airport. You can catch a boat to the islands from Yeongjong's Sammok port.

Jangbong island is a habitat for both Chinese egrets (norangburi-baengno) and black-tailed gulls (gwaeng-i-galmaegi). Only 500 Chinese egrets remain worldwide. These birds come to Jangbong island in April and stay until September when they migrate to Southeast Asia. The island folklore tells that long ago, a fisherman caught a mermaid on the island but let her go. A statue of a mermaid on the island commemorates this tale.

Visitors also go to Jangbong island to buy oyster mushrooms. Less expensive than shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms are nonetheless appreciated for their chewy texture. One 2 kilogram box costs 10,000 won.

It is possible to walk between Mo, Si and Sin islands as they have been connected by bridges since 1992. The bridge that connects Mo island and Si island is called jamsugyo, which means "submerged bridge." It is so called because it disappears into the water during high tides. Catching shells or crabs left on the bridge during the ebb tide is a lot of fun. At low tide, it is also easy to catch fish, such as gobies (mangdung) using a fishing rod from the bridge.

Marvelous views of Incheon International Airport are on offer from the top of Mount Gubong, the 178-meter peak on Sin island. On the way to the top, there is a mineral spring that provides climbers with clean, fresh drinking water. Pretty azaleas bloom along the path.

Most of the islands in Inchon area have extensive tidal flats. The mud in these tidal flats is rich in organic matter, and thus various marine animals, such as clams, crustaceans and lugworms are found there. The tidal flats on the west coast are very wide because the tidal range is so great. At ebb tide, the tidal flats look like they almost meet the horizon. Digging into the mud with your bare hands to catch clams, octopuses or crabs is tiring but fun. Remember to bring a hat and sun block, as it is easy to burn.

by Eum Tae-min

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