By Feature Editor Kim Hyung-dae
A three-hour, 40-minute ferry ride from Incheon will take you to Baekryeong Island via Socheongdo Island.
At 37.5 degrees north latitude and 124.5 degrees east longitude, Baekryeong Island is located in the far northwestern corner of South Korea. There is plenty to see, plenty to eat, and a beautiful natural environment.
The “Indangsoo pond” appeared in the legendary filial piety story, Simcheongjeon, is not far away, and a pavilion has been built in her honor. It's also a great place to educate future generations.
However, despite its charms, Baekryeong Island has not been able to attract tourists as expected. The main reason is security concerns, followed by inaccessibility.
However, these two weaknesses are on the verge of being addressed with the inauguration of Yoon Suk-yeol as President and Moon Gyeong-bok as governor of the Ongjin-gun(county).
The specifics of Governor Moon's ambitious tourism promotion plan are to select 12 of the 115 islands in Ongjin-gun and develop them "K-culture" tourist attractions visited by foreign tourists.
It has already secured 10 billion won in development funds this year, subsidizing 50% of travel expenses for visiting tourists, and extending the tourist itinerary from two days to three days and four nights.
To increase accessibility, it plans to privatize and increase maritime traffic, build an airfield, and open a sky route by 2027.
Baengnyeong Island has only two natural runways in the world. It has a special geology that allows airplanes to take off and land on white sand, which is submerged in seawater at high tide and becomes hard white sand at low tide.
During the 6.25 war, it was used as a military airfield. The security issue, which can be said to be the Achilles' heel of Ongjin-gun tourism, has been resolved by Kim Kwan-jin, the current member of the National Defense Innovation Committee, who ordered "striking at the origin" and President Yoon Suk-yeol's speech, "Peace through the goodwill with the enemy is not true peace, but peace when backed by a strong power."
The security anxiety has been resolved, allowing tourists to visit the island areas in the northwestern part of the country, such as Baekryeong Island and Yeonpyeong Island, with peace of mind.
The story of Simcheonggak is expected to contribute greatly to the education of the second generation as well as to inform foreign tourists about the filial piety of the Korean people.
The story goes that she sold her body for three hundred seoms of rice, believing that she could donate it to a temple to help her blind father see again, and the fishermen who bought her body to sacrifice her to the deep waters off the west coast, praying for good fortune.
Afterward, a single flower bloomed on the shore, and it was brought to the court, where she was transformed into a queen. In order to find her blind father, Simcheong invited blind people from all over the country to the royal palace for a feast, and when Simcheong’s blind father heard the rumor and attended the court feast, she found her father and cried out, "Father!" Hearing her daughter's voice, Simcheng’s father opened his eyes at that moment, saying, "Let's see if it's my daughter."
Representing the filial spirit of the Korean people, Simcheng story is a representative novel of the Korean people along with Chunhyang story.
Baekryeong Island, which is named because it resembles an ostrich with white wings, is designated as a natural monument. It has 2.8 kilometers of fine sandy white beaches, 800 meters of beaches covered with multicolored bean stones that have been washed by the waves from broken quartzite and worn down to the s i ze of bean grains, Seondae rock, elephant rock Janggunbong, and other attractions.
With improved accessibility and no security threats, the islands in Ongjin County are expected to become the country's top tourist destination, led by Baekryeong Island.