Before dawn on the 1st of January, a sea of travellers will make their yearly pilgrimage to the beautiful eastern coastline to usher in the New Year. The east coast overlooking the East Sea is reputed for its attractiveness as a spot for appreciating the first sunrise of the year. As such, it has become a staple tradition for many to ring in the New Year at sunrise spots across the nation; all of which are expected to attract large crowds on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Beholding the sun, as it slowly rises over the horizon, it is customary to make a wish and to hope that the new year brings good fortune and blessings.
According to the Korean Astronomy and Space Science Institute, the earliest sunrise can be seen from Dokdo. If you can’t make it to Dokdo then check out these popular destinations for tourists and Koreans alike.
Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park (정동진 해돋이 공원)
Located in Gangneung, Gangwon-do, Jeongdongjin is a picturesque area with a quaint little railway station standing alongside the sandy beach. Although it has long since been a favourite spot among locals, the area gained widespread popularity after being chosen as the filming location for the popular soap opera Moraeshigae (Hourglass) and has since become a favourite haunt for drama lovers on the weekends.
The combination of the area’s railroad station, beach, and groves of pine trees makes Jeongdongjin a very peaceful and romantic mini getaway. One of the highlights of the Jeongdongjin, however, is the sunrise. The early morning sun reaching out over the ocean and outlining the dewy silhouettes of the station and surrounding pines is a sight that is straight out of a fairy tale. During the New Year, Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park is where the Sunrise Festival is located along with the ceremonial ‘turning of the hourglass,’ signifying the changing year.
Jeongdongjin gets its name from the word jeongdong, which means due east in Korean, as it is exactly due east from Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Gate. Its train station is known to be the world’s nearest train station to the ocean. If you want to make your new year’s morning truly memorable, watching the first sunrise of the year from Jeongdongjin will certainly provide you with a unique and unforgettable experience.
How to get there:
You can take a train from Cheongnyangni station to Jeongdongjin station. A lot of people take the overnight train which gets you to the station in time to watch the sunrise. The journey lasts about 5 hours and 30 minutes.
Cost – KRW21,000 (Around GBP14 or USD18)
Homigot Sunrise Square (호미곶 해맞이광장)
The main venue of the Homigot Sunrise Festival is located on the easternmost point of the Korean Peninsula. Homigot (호미곶) means ‘village on a tiger’s tale’ and is also one of the best locations to witness the first sunrise in Korea.
The festival includes local cultural performances, a New Year’s celebratory event, a fire show, a sunrise concert and other diverse performances. Visitors may sample free tteokguk, a traditional New Year’s Day dish, during the special event of ‘Serving tteokguk for 10,000’. Other events such as kite-flying and launching hope balloons with wishes attached will provide enjoyable moments to reflect on the previous year and to create new year resolutions.
How to get there:
It’s a bit more complicated to get to, however we believe that it’s completely worth it once you lay your eyes on that beautiful golden vista setting fire to the eastern sea.
From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal or Seoul Express Bus Terminal, take a bus to Pohang. Prices vary from KRW29,000 (£20).
You can also take a KTX from Seoul Station (Approx 2hr 30min). This will cost between KRW 46,000 to KRW 75,000 (£30 to £50).
Once you have arrived at Pohang, take Bus No. 200 to Guryongpo Bus Stop then transfer to Bus No. 203 and get off at Homigot Sunrise Square Bus Stop. And don’t forget to enjoy that incredible sunrise!
Featured image source: ©First Leap at Sunrise, 03.10.2018, Www.Pixabay.com
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