Taean County — the Bali of Korea

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Taean County — the Bali of Korea

The sunset seen from Island Resom in Taean, South Chungcheong. [ISLAND RESOM]

The sunset seen from Island Resom in Taean, South Chungcheong. [ISLAND RESOM]

TAEAN COUNTY, South Chungcheong — The scene of a pink sky created by the sun setting above glittering waves and what seems like an endless beach doesn’t just exist in Bali. You can find it in Korea too — more specifically in Taean, South Chungcheong.  
 
The county, which has long been popular among beachgoers in the summer, is constantly updating its coastline to allure those looking for a busier beach experience with a party ambiance as well as those looking to relax, in a quieter area that gives off the feel of a private beach. 
 
Anmyeondo, also known as Anmyeon Island, is one of the most well-known spots among travelers of all ages ranging from families to college students.
 
Anmyeondo is again in the spotlight thanks to the opening of Island Resom Resort after about nine months of renovation. The resort reopened on July 10, and is an ideal spot for a wide range of visitors who are looking for less-touched places to stay overnight in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. It is located right by the beach, making it convenient for travelers who wish to keep their travel routes short.
 
While some other trendy spots like Cheollipo or Mallipo beaches get more crowded, Wonsan Island Beach is almost completely empty at the moment. Only a few who wish to dip their feet in the sea water to cool down are spotted sporadically. Wonsan Island is expected to get more traffic since the opening of the new bridge, which connects it to the popular Anmyeon Island.  
 
Those who want something more than just lounging at the beach should head out to see the coastal sand dune, the largest of its kind in Korea. To make it easy for visitors to walk on the sand, there is a wooden deck set up all around it.  
 
 
All-in-one at Resom
 
While many hotels targeting international business travelers in the city struggle amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, those that are located in more rural areas are seeing popularity as visitors see them as the perfect option to get away while also maintaining social distancing measures. 
  
The opening of the new resort by an already established brand Resom garnered a lot of attention from so-called wellness travel seekers. Resom has three other resorts that aim to showcase its harmony with nature, such as its resort in the forest in Jecheon, North Chungcheong.  
 
Since the resort is new, it really feels like you are the first one to use any of the furniture in the rooms and amenities of the resort. It gives a sense of security for those concerned about hygiene issues.  
 
The renovated resort is now even more easily accessible from Ggotji Beach as the road that once separated the beach from the hotel has been completely removed in order to protect the sand. 
 
The outside lounge area, called Island 57, has tables and chairs where people can sit and relax without getting covered in sand and watch the gorgeous sunsets. If you go around 7:30 p.m., you can see the sun setting for about 30 minutes to an hour before the sky turns completely black.  
 
Drinks are available to order from the bar so you can enjoy a tipple while also enjoying the evening colors. It is also possible to order take-out food from the restaurants at the resort. Pasta For Four, a sister restaurant to Michelin-starred Table For Four, as well as Hwahaedang serving Taean’s popular gejang, or soy-sauce marinated raw blue crab, alongside TV celebrity and singer Don Spike’s barbecue spot Low & Slow are just some of the offerings. Island 57 is also open to guests who are not staying in the hotel. 
 
If you need to shake off a hangover after a cocktail too many or just need to put some pep in your step, start your morning with a dip in the cold water of the infinity pool. Away from the slides and other fun stuff, you can just gaze out at the West Sea and escape your daily routine. For a more relaxing — and less shocking — time, enjoy the temperate waters of the spa inside the resort. 
 
Right next to the resort to the south is a short trail covered with pine trees for those who want to enjoy the view of the sea while also staying shaded from the sun. 
  
For those who want more privacy, the resort offers a stay at a villa with a private terrace where you can make use of a barbecue while watching the sunset.  
 
One thing you should note is that anywhere you go, you will be asked to check your body temperature. Staff at major travel destinations including beaches will have guards waiting to check your health condition. Once they find you are okay, you will be given a paper bracelet to wear. You are asked to get one a day during your stay in Taean, so don't take it away when you leave one spot for another, or else you will be stopped each time to enter any place in the county. 
 
 
A beach not yet visited much on Wonsan Island. [LEE SUN-MIN]

A beach not yet visited much on Wonsan Island. [LEE SUN-MIN]



All kinds of beaches
 
As the county includes coastline, there are a countless number of beaches available to enjoy. While a few of the well-known places are often crowded with people seeking a festive ambiance, there are still many that remain mostly undiscovered. For such tranquility, you simply need to give up all the things that make your stay convenient such as renting a parasol or a sunbed, or stores where you can buy food and drinks. A small price to pay for almost total privacy.  
 
Wonsan Island, which was rarely visited until recently, has been getting more attention from people in Taean and nearby cities and counties. 
 
Another underwater tunnel is expected to connect the island with Boryeong, the island which just became accessible by car thanks to the new bridge connecting the island to Anmyeon Island in December last year.
 
With expectations that more people will head onto the island, there is a lot of construction underway.
 
Many of the beaches, which rarely saw any traces of humans, are expected to become prime weekend destinations in the times of the pandemic. There are trails being paved to offer leisurely walking options for visitors.  
 
 
Sinduri coastal sand dune. [LEE SUN-MIN]

Sinduri coastal sand dune. [LEE SUN-MIN]



Dunes and dung  
 
Those looking for a geography refresher will certainly enjoy a stroll around the Sinduri coastal sand dune. Its shape is similar to those seen overseas or in movies, and provided you bring an umbrella or a wide-brimmed hat to protect you from the harsh sun, a walk around will certainly be enjoyable. 
  
For parents contemplating where to take their children, the sand dune is both fun and educational, as well as being designated as Korea’s natural heritage, giving youngsters a chance to see in real life something they've only seen pictures of in textbooks before. 
 
The shape changes depending on how much sand is being blown about. It is strictly forbidden to stand on the sand dune itself as you could cause it to move. 
 
The wildlife there may come as a surprise. Two cows call the sand dune home and spend their days there leisurely lounging.  
 
In the past it was very easy to also spot dung beetles, but after the dune was designated as natural heritage, cattle farming became forbidden and the source for the beetles dung was no more. 
 
But since dung beetles have become a species in danger of extinction in Korea, the county decided to make an attempt to being the particular insect back and began scattering dung in the area.  
 
Signs around the deck indicate what insects live in the sand dunes. Trying to spot them all along your walk is a fun game to play among friends. An insect to watch out for is the one who's name in Korean means "ant killer," as it eats the little black insects. It uses its legs to dig down into the sand to keep itself hidden for a sudden attack.  
 
If you have time, walk about 20 minutes to get to Du-ung wetland. Wetlands tend to be found alongside sand dunes where nonsaltwater gathers. Such linked formation was also acknowledged by local experts and the wetland has also been designated as a natural heritage.  
 
BY LEE SUN-MIN   [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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