Seosan is a small city in Chuncheongnamdo, a province south of Seoul. It is located near the coast of the Yellow Sea on the western side of the Korean peninsula. As a city with a population of about 175,000 people, it has a rural feel to it. The old city center has many old buildings, its sidewalks don’t usually have many pedestrians, either day or night, and there are grass fields and rice fields that are scattered throughout the city limits. Nearby cities are Dangjin, Yesan, Hongseong, and Taean. Despite its relative isolation compared to the more ubiquitous South Korean urban locales, Seosan is a unique and beautiful city with lots to offer visitors and expats. There are at least six activities or places that visitors can check out for either weekend trips or job relocations in the Seosan area.
#1. Visit Mallipo Beach
Mallipo Beach is one of the Korean peninsula’s more scenic beaches on the western coastline. The beach has a large tidal range, which gives it a muddy appearance at times. It is around 2 kilometers long and is located 18 kilometers from Taean. Upon arriving at Mallipo, one will be greeted by some houses and buildings. The residences and businesses are few and a few hundred feet from the bus terminal is the deep blue sea and sandy beach. There is a road that runs parallel to the beach, and there are many cafes, restaurants, motels, and shops that line it. Further afield, there is a pine tree forest, walkways, and other beaches. It is a famous spot for surfers and is called “Mallifornia,” as a reference to the quality surfing in on the American West Coast. Visitors usually eat seafood dishes such as grilled shellfish, grilled eel, or raw fish and drink soju or beer. There are some carnival booths and some rides within the beach’s vicinity. Mallipo is famous for its colorful sunsets.
#2. Go to Haemi Castle
Haemi Castle is a an old site located in the town of Haemi in Chuncheongnamdo. It is close to Seosan. The castle was built in the 15th century during the Chosun dynasty. Initially, it was built to protect the region from Japanese pirates. Later, it was a site where thousands of Catholics were killed. The castle was renovated in 1973. Making the short trek to Haemi Fortress on weekends or holidays is typical for Seosan area locals. Seosan folk visit the fortress to see cherry blossoms in the spring or fall colors in October and November. It’s a popular rest and recreation spot for families, local youth, and young couples. Instagram has many photos of girls dressed in traditional hanbok’s at the gate’s to the fortress. It is a popular trend. Local newlyweds and couples like to take professional photographs at the castle gate or on the grounds.
#3. Stroll the Jungang Lake Park
Located within reach of city hall and the inter-city bus terminal, the Jungang Lake Park is a major attraction in Seosan. Locals picnic, exercise, and walk at the lake park. The lake park has grassy areas, numerous trees, flowers and cherry blossom trees, and sculpture art. In the warmer months, water lotuses and water lilies can be seen in the lake. There is a traditional pagoda on a small island at the center of the lake and wooden walkways that cross the lake. On summer evenings, young people can be found scattered around the lake park, drinking and chatting with friends. Next to the lake park are a large number of cafes, restaurants, and local businesses. The lake park area has the majority of Seosan’s nightlife. It is also the trendiest hang out spot, and most of the young people hang out there. Adolescents shop and dine in the area, while twentysomethings hang out in the local bars and barbecue and izakaya restaurants.
#4. Check out the Buddha statue
Seosan has a famous historical site within reach, the rock-carved triad buddha. The rock carving is believed to have been carved in the 6th or 7th century during the Baekje kingdom. At the center of the carving is a standing buddha that represents Shakyamuni Buddha. The style of the buddha, with its smile, wide nose, and plump face, was characteristic of the art of the Baekje kingdom. On the buddha’s left is a standing bodhisattva, and on its right is a sitting bodhisattva. Koreans call the triad the “Smile of Baekje.” The carving was discovered in 1958. The triad is located on Gayasan, a mountain near Yonghyeon-ri, near Seosan. The triad was designated National Treasure No. 84 on December 20, 1962. Unfortunately, visiting by taxi is costly.
#5. Explore the traditional market
The Seosan traditional market is located at the center of Seosan, next to the inter-city bus terminal. The area has old school charm, as many of its buildings date back to a previous era, unlike other parts of Seosan. It’s a good place to buy things from vendors, such as seafood, fresh fish, plants, vegetables, fruits, grains, and herbs. There is a Thai restaurant, a Japanese style sushi restaurant, a Vietnamese restaurant, and many Korean seafood restaurants. The traditional market is a good place to explore and walk around. Though it is similar to most Korean traditional markets, it somehow is a draw due to its simplicity and plainness.
#6. Honorable mention: Other beaches, McDonald’s, quiet escape from Seoul’s hustle and bustle
Seosan has some of the most beautiful beaches on the western side of South Korea. Some are pristine. There is Mongmunpo Beach, Kkotji Beach, Batgae Beach and others. The only problem is that it requires a car to see most of those places. With a combination of local buses and taxis, as well as having the flexibility of being able to stay in a beachside motel or stay in Taean for the night, many of these beaches are viable. Though the eastern side beaches are generally more famous, the western beaches in the Seosan and Taean area have lots of natural beauty and unique natural environments. They are all worth checking out. Another thing to do in the Seosan area is go to the McDonald’s. As strange as it sounds, the McDonald’s is a hang out spot. It also is one of the only places to see native English speakers in Seosan. Seosan doesn’t have many foreigners from English speaking countries, but anyone who goes to the sole McDonald’s in town might not know that. The fast food restaurant is often full of native English speakers. On weekends, many American military personnel make stops on the way to the beaches or other getaways. Local English teachers, English professors, engineers, and missionaries also frequent the establishment. Finally, Seosan has many scattered historical monuments, open spaces, mountains, and temples. There are many places to visit, and though most might not be spectacular sites, they all offer a nice escape from Seoul’s frenetic energy. Seosan is rural and quiet, and it is a good place to rest.
1.The front side of the Seosan inter-city bus terminal. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
2. A farm in Seosan. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok
3. A field in Seosan. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
4. Mallipo Beach sunset in the summer. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
5. The sun setting at Mallipo Beach. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
6. A street next to Mallipo Beach. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
7. The main gate at Haemi castle. The photo was taken by Laumann P. 1992
8. The Seosan Lake Park. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
9. The center of the Seosan Lake Park. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
10. The Seosan Buddha triad. The photo by Dalgal.
11. The Seosan traditional market. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
12. A vendor at the traditional market. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
13. A stupa near the center of the town. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
14. People walking at Mumangpo Beach. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
15. A popular kalguksu restaurant near the Seosan inter-city bus terminal. Photo by Rooftop on the Hanok.
David Kute has an appreciation for Seoul’s distinct neighborhoods. From Dongdaemun’s market stalls to Hongdae’s rock music venues, the city continues to fascinate him. After spending many years living and working in Seoul and South Korea, he started the blog Rooftop on the Hanok. The blog is a place to share information as well as explore facets of life on the Korean peninsula. He enjoys writing fiction and playing basketball when he’s not researching or writing Rooftop on the Hanok posts.