Go South for Some Top-Drawer FunBoseong county in South Cholla province is often called sambohyang, the home of three treasures: a strong tradition of arts and crafts, close-knit communities that prize their strong sense of connection to the land and most of all, green tea.
The summer vacationer can enjoy these treasures along with the county's beautiful landscape of mountains, coastlines and a large lake, and a host of additional attractions.
The people of Boseong are dedicated to preserving the long tradition of handicrafts in the area. You can still find a potter kicking his wheel the old-fashioned way to make onggi, the brown-glazed earthenware.
There are also many craftsmen continuing the 400-year-old tradition of producing yongmunseok, sedge mats decorated with dragon patterns. These fine patterns require thousands of stitches.
If you visit, you will find that the county's inhabitants are indeed rather proud of their home. The green tea farmers and fishermen boast of the productiveness of the land and the sea. At a local market, an old woman was selling razor clams. She seemed extremely confident in the quality of the county's produce.
She shouted out, "Young man, try these clams. They are truly delicious. Why don't you take them all at a bargain price?"
Yulpo beach, to the south of the county, is well worth a visit this summer. The beach, about 1.2 kilometers long and 60 meters wide, is more like a tidal flat than a sandy beach, but the sand is dry enough to walk on without much difficulty. On the beach you can have fun swimming or catching short-necked clams at low tide. Unlike the beaches on the East Coast, notorious for their summer crowds, at Yulpo beach you can take a stroll without battling against hordes of other visitors. Then again, if you need some serious de-stressing, just lie back and watch the crabs scuttling across the sand.
While at Yulpo beach, take a dip in the sea water and green tea spa housed on the beach and run by the county office. The spa water is pumped up from 120 meters underground and then flavored with up to 45 kilograms of green tea leaves. The leaves are strained out, leaving the water with a slight green tinge and a subtle aroma. "The first person to visit our spa each morning can even drink the water," said a spa employee. But it's just as nice to bathe in － all sorts of healthful properties are claimed for doing so － and it is nice to watch the sea out the window as you relax.
The spa is open between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Admission costs 5,000 won (about $4). For more information, call 061-853-4566.
You're in the land of the great cuppa, so don't miss the chance to taste some green tea (nok-cha). Boseong county has ideal conditions for growing tea: The nearby sea and Juam Lake mean the area tends to be foggy and humid, and the soil drains well. From Yulpo beach, take national road No. 18 and drive about eight kilometers toward Boseong-eup. You'll see green tea farms stretching for miles, looking like a beautiful big green carpet. Many of the farms, including Daehan, Dongyang and Botjae, let visitors to take a stroll on the fields and give them a free taste of tea.
Beolgyo-eup, a seaside town in Boseong county, used to be a center of commerce and traffic during the Japanese colonial period. These days, however, it is mostly known for its well-preserved tidal flats, and abundant fish and clams. At the tidal flats located in some villages, such as Jangyang-ri and Jangam-ri, you may be able to watch some fish walking － well, maybe flopping － along the sand using their fins. Those fish, each about the size of an adult hand, are called jangttungeo. From May to October, you are likely to find some fishermen trying to catch the fish simply by aiming a hook in their direction. At Beolgyo wharf, you can try some delicious soup made of jangttungeo boiled with zucchini and leek.
If you are interested in Korean traditional pottery, visit Miryeok Onggi, a ceramics workshop. The workshop moved to Boseong from Gangjin county about 50 years ago, but the family says it has been producing onggi products for more than nine generations. Also, a Tibetan art museum that opened recently near the entrance to Daewonsa, a Buddhist temple in Juksan-ri village, is worth a look.
by Sung Si-yoon