To catch ‘Prince of Crabs,’ heavenly sunrise, start early

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To catch ‘Prince of Crabs,’ heavenly sunrise, start early

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Fishing boats come back to Ganggu Port in Yeongdeok County, North Gyeongsang, with seagulls welcoming the rising sun. Ganggu Port is famous for its sunrises.

At 4 a.m., when most people are still asleep and the air is calm, Ganggu Port in Yeongdeok County, North Gyeongsang, begins its day. After fishermen warm their bodies with a cup of hot coffee in the piercing cold, they hurry to raise their anchors.

Ganggu Port gets busier when the fishing boats and the boats returning from farms come back one by one while the sky is still dark. When the horizon of the East Sea finally begins to gleam, fewer fishing boats are seen on the sea. On the other hand, the wharves get crowded with trucks delivering live fish. They move to the market of the Ganggu branch of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives.

Merchants in trucks and restaurant owners that have come from various parts of the nation wait to purchase live fish. The first auction starts at 6:30 a.m. Flatfish, blowfish, squid and other fish get sold after the winning bids are declared by an auctioneer in a red hat.

When the sale of live fish ends, crabs - which are often dubbed the best winter delicacy of Yeongdeok - are put up for sale.

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Merchants bid for live fish at the auction, which starts as soon as the fishing boats come back to the port before dawn.

The crabs, which are still actively moving their claws and legs, are sorted by fishermen by their size and subspecies in various rows. They include vivid red snow crabs, brown bakdal snow crabs and enormous orange neodo snow crabs.

Ganggu Port is located where 50 streams of Yeongdeok join and flow into the sea. The port is well known as a trade center for Yeongdeok snow crabs, which are often dubbed “The Prince of Crabs” in Korea.

In addition, the port is famous for its sunrises. About 100,000 people from various parts of the country rush to the port every New Year’s Day to see the sun brighten the sky.

Yeongdeok Snow Crab Village, with Ganggu Port at its heart, is a typical fishing village with a beautiful landscape.

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Left: Hikers along the Blue Road can encounter fishermen drying herrings to make gwamegi. Right: A wind plant in Changpo Village, Yeongdeok County, at sunset.

According to a legend, two fishermen named An and Lee arrived here 400 years ago after drifting in a typhoon and developed a fishing village.

Now, the port has a 3-kilometer-long (1.8-mile-long) Snow Crab Street with 250 stores and snow crab restaurants.

The Snow Crab Street in Yeongdeok, Dakgalbi (spicy, stir-fried chicken ribs) Street in Gangwon’s Chuncheon and Bamboo Shoot Food Village in South Jeolla’s Damyang County are designated as food-themed streets sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization.

The 50-kilometer Blue Road of Yeongdeok County, which starts from Ganggu Port and continues through nearby Chuksan Port to reach Goraebul Beach, is also among one of the most popular tourism spots of the county because it attracts many hikers.

A wind farm in the county also lures tourists who seek good places to take photographs. The red and white lighthouses of Ganggu Port, towering against the blue East Sea, is also a beautiful place to take photographs.

Ganggu Port has many things to eat and enjoy, especially in the winter, and is beloved by families that make a year-end trip there.

By Park Sang moon [moonpark@joongang.co.kr]

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