Naganeupseong Walled Town in Suncheon
Naganeupseong is one of those places that I heard about here and there, but never got around to visiting. Every time I’ve been to Suncheon, I’ve never had a car so I was always just rushing to see the highlights. That usually meant revisiting the famed Suncheon Bay (which I did again and it was awesome again). This time, however, it was the walled town of Naganeupseong which was the highlight, but keep reading because there were a LOT of honorable mentions.
This fortified town is similar to Hahoe and Yangdong Folk Villages in the western side of the country. However, since this one is so out of the way from major cities, it doesn’t get as much tourism, and that’s kinda nice. It was also pretty cool that the wall that surrounds it is climbable so you can see the town from its perimeter and above. As usual, I was the only foreigner around and a single shop selling ice water and trinkets was open. A lot of people still live in this village as farmers and merchants, but it is evident that it is mostly kept as a preserved museum of sorts. Nonetheless, it is still quite beautiful.
Honorable Mention 1 – Boseong Dinosaur Egg Sites
I decided to skip the famed Boseong tea fields (I’ve been 3 or 4 times) for a site I had heard about but never visited. Back when I first arrived in 2009, I met a girl from Daegu who very kindly ordered a bunch of tourism books for me for free from the Korean Tourism Organization. Quick note, if you ever need tourism ideas for free, the KTO in Seoul is just a plethora of information. Anyways, the KTO sent her a book called SPARKLING KOREA 365 which was a list of the 365 most interesting things to do in Korea. At the time, they promoted the Cretaceous Dinosaur Sites in the south. Korea was promoting potential UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which turned out to be a very fruitful endevour as it has gained 6 WHS sites since 2009. So what does this have to do with Boseong? Well, one of the sites they were hoping to get was what they called Sites of Fossilized Dinosaurs throughout the Southern seacoast (2002) – Tentative List. This is actually how I originally heard about Sado island as it was on the map. Mysteriously, however, other than THAT book, the dinosaur egg sites in Boseong were never really promoted again (and, for the record, I get a KTO guide book every year to see if I’ve missed anything for this blog.) In fact, even map sites were inconsistent with Kakao maps, Naver maps, and the World Heritage website all pointing in different places (albeit near each other). It was a mystery I had to explore.
Alas, I found the site! To be honest, if you’re a dinosaur fanatic, you may be disappointed. There is a single spot where a sign says something like “see if you can spot the nest site” and again, I had no idea if I was looking in the right place. THAT was not really impressive. What was impressive, however, was the abandoned attempt at making this a tourism spot. Statues of dinos, information booths, and even fake fossils which seemed abandoned for years. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of abandoned theme parks and the like, but never actually seen one. This was the first of two failed touristic attractions that seemed like lots was invested to a collective yawn. The Sites of Fossilized Dinosaurs throughout the Southern seacoast is still on the WHS tentative list as you can see from the link above but I wouldn’t hold my breath. For the record though, much like the dolmen sites, something like 40% of all dinosaur footprints from the Jurassic period have been found in Korea’s southern coast. There are other sites nearby that are a definite must see.
Honorable Mention 2 – Suncheon Drama Filming Location
I’m not huge on Korean dramas, but have noticed one thing. A lot of old ones that are set in the 50s and 60s or so seem to have similar looking sets. I always assumed this was just my untrained eye, but it seems I was on to something. Many were filmed here, in Suncheon. This faux village was made to seem like a town from 70 years ago. Now, it is mostly just a mini theme park for drama nerd to shoot a few pictures, but it is pretty impressive nonetheless. It only takes like an hour or two to look everywhere, so its worth checking out if you have the time.