July 18, 2014 11:02
Gyodong Island, just 20 km south of the 38th parallel, promises a unique experience for visitors.
Though a military pass is required and tourists must leave by nightfall, it's easier to access thanks to the construction of a new bridge that has connected the island to Incheon since early July.
The first stop would be Gogu Reservoir, which appears at the end of the bridge and is usually packed with anglers on weekends going after the plentiful crucian carp.
An older market called Daeryong Market is another popular stop. It bustles with visitors and locals alike. Old-fashioned signboards create a sense of nostalgia in the 400-m alley. An appliance repair shop, barber shop and several eateries offer a throwback to the good old days.
Visitors can also see parts of fortresses encircling the village that were built to protect villagers and repel aggressors.
It is also worth visiting the remains of Korea's oldest Confucian school Hyanggyo. The island's proximity to China meant that it was a key location for trade and marine transport. Today, meetings take place twice a month at the ancient school where attendees discuss ways to protect traditional culture there.
Tourists can also climb Mt. Hwagae, which rises 259.6 m above sea level. It takes about an hour to reach the peak and the trail is dotted with historical sites, aromatic pine trees and wild flowers.
The view from the peak is breathtaking and offers a glance of the North, only 7 km away.
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