Life in a big city is great, but do you know what’s even better? Being able to escape to an island to enjoy the clean, fresh air with a bit of sea mist mixed in. Let’s be honest, the hustle and bustle of the city can get exhausting. Less than an hour from Sasang Bus Terminal, you can escape to Geoje Island for a perfect weekend getaway. I must point out that while on Geoje, you might as well also visit the stunning Oedo Botanical Garden and Island.
Geoje’s History and Significance
Geoje played a relevant part in Korean history because it was the location of the P.O.W Camp, which held prisoners during the Korean War. The camp was closed sometime around 1953, and later in 1997 turned into a historical park to educate people about the war, as well as to make sure the history of the island and of the war did not vanish. The coast of Okpo is important because it was where the famous Korean turtleships successfully stopped Japanese attackers from taking the Jeolla region during the early stages of the Imjin War, which took place 1592-1598. Even though this was not significant enough to stop the war, it did slightly slow the invasion. It also contributed to the withdrawal of the Japanese forces, later resulting in end of war.
Today, Geoje is known as the “Blue City” for its stunning coastal beauty and iconic scenery of the Oedo Garden nearby. It is also where you can learn a little bit about the Korean history by visiting the P.O.W Historical Park. Also, the shipbuilding industry is substantial, and brings a lot of foreigners to the island for work.
Geoje Must See and Do
Geoje Island is the second largest island in Korea. The best way to get around is renting a car. There are busses and taxis, although they may be a bit scarce on this island depending on your location.
The first thing you must visit is the beach, the Hakdong Black Pearl Pebble Beach to be exact. It’s not a place to roam around with bare feet, but it sure is pretty cool to see. I went early in the morning, and even though it was a cloudy morning the nature pulled through and showed off its unique beauty anyway.
From the beach you can take a short taxi ride to the next popular destination on this island: Windy Hill and Sinseondae. This place is picture-perfect, so it is sure to add some color and wanderlust to your social media accounts, and perhaps even take your breath away. Windy Hill was a setting for some popular dramas such as ‘Eve’s Garden’, ‘Merry-Go-Round’, and ‘1 Night 2 Days’. On one side of the hill is the Haegeumgang Village, which has some very quaint buildings, wall art, and sculptures as well as some great seafood restaurants. On the other side of the hill is Dojangpo Wharf, where you can take a tour ferry to Oedo Island and Botanical Garden.
Next Stop – Oedo Botanical Garden and Island
The impressive botanical garden was built by a couple who settled the island in 1969. You can tell there was a lot of thought and work that was put into this place. The upkeep of the garden must be no easy task, as the garden is huge and looks impeccable! There are numerous precisely sculpted topiaries, making the landscape look astounding. The view from the top of the hill at the garden is ravishing due to colorful flowers, lush trees, and carefully placed sculptures. The day I visited the garden it was foggy and cloudy, but the view was still amazing, so I can only imagine how incredible it would look on a beautiful sunny day. On a personal note, visiting this garden and reading a little bit about this couple who built it, it confirmed to me that perhaps chivalry isn’t dead after all. I felt privileged to be able to see something so extraordinary created by an ordinary couple with a vision.
Korea is a pretty compact country, so it’s relatively easy to plan a quick getaway. Add Geoje and Oedo to your list of places to explore in Korea if you want picturesque views, fresh air, delicious seafood, and history all in one trip. Where is your next getaway? There is no time like the present to devise your next adventure.