You may be interested to discover, if you don’t know already, that there are in fact 12 places in our city of Ulsan that have been designated areas of scenic beauty. On closer inspection, it may amuse you to discover that some of these “areas” are in fact no more than corn fields or a football stadium but all the same, it has for me, and several others I have spoken to, become a mission to visit all 12 before my year in Ulsan is up.
The first on the list for me was Daewangam Songnim (Rock and Pine Forest), a short walk from Ilsan Beach in Bangeojin. The history surrounding this rock is rather sketchy. Legend says that during the Silla Dynasty, Queen Munmu had her ashes scattered over the rocks which became a guardian dragon to the country and was submerged underwater to protect Korea from Japanese invasion – hence the area is also referred to as Dragon’s Rock. However, there are also accounts that this was the same for her husband King Munmu (661-681 AD), although some stories quote it was not at Daewangam that his ashes were scattered but in fact further up the coast at Gameunsaji in Gyeongju.
Whatever the legend, the area itself is quite amazing. The coastal rock formations are surrounded by Ulgi Park, a beautiful forest of 15,000 or so pine trees, which have been growing there for over 100 years, and also give way to an uninterrupted view over the East Sea. It is a lovely place to take a stroll and there are very well laid out paths to walk on which go for about a kilometre from the entrance of the park down to the sea. It does get very windy and cold on the rock so take care and wrap up warm – especially if like me you visit it in the winter!
Daewangam Rock is accessible by a rather garish looking yellow and turquoise steel bridge, which allows tourists to climb on the rock itself. There is an observation tower at the eastern end of the rock from which you have a great 360 view of the coastline and the sea. The rock and surrounding formations are red and brown in colour which stand out in stark contrast to the dark blue East Sea. It’s definitely worth going to see. Also located right beside Daewangam is the Ulgi Lighthouse. It is a working lighthouse which acts as a guide to the many ships in the East Sea. The area is gorgeous at night; it’s lit up with thousands of fairy lights which makes it feel quite magical.
From Daewangam you have an amazing view of the lighthouse and for any of you budding photographers, you can get some great shots. The whole area lends beautifully to photography so even if you’re not the most accomplished of photographers, it is still worth taking your camera down there. I managed to get there for sunset and the views and colours are amazing. It takes about forty-five minutes to an hour to get to Bangeojin from outside Lotte Department store in Samsan Dong so bear that in mind when going; otherwise like me you’ll be running around madly trying to get some pictures whilst it’s still light!! There are lots of buses you can take to get there for example: 114, 1114, 1401, 401, 1127.