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Taean offers idyllic beach getaway in COVD-19 times

Site of worst oil spill in Korea is back in business with safety measures against coronavirus

TAEAN, South Chungcheong Province -- Though COVID-19 has yet to be contained, summer is here, and so is the vacation season.

Taean is a popular tourist town on the west coast of Korea, about a three-hour drive from Seoul. The small seaside county was the site of the worst oil spill in Korea in 2007, when a crane-barge collision led to the leaking of 11 million gallons of oil into the ocean. Workers, residents and volunteers from across the nation gathered in Taean to clean the blackened beaches.

This year, Taean is bracing against virus infiltration. To closely monitor the incoming flock of tourists, Taean County has deployed volunteer workers at county entrances to check the body temperatures of each visitor.

After a short checkup, visitors are given colorful wristbands by the county, signaling they have been checked. The volunteer workers have called them “safety bands that ensure the safety of both residents and visitors.”

Exotic sand dune 

Sinduri Coastal Dune (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
Sinduri Coastal Dune (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
Duwung Wetland (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
Duwung Wetland (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)

Sinduri Coastal Dune touts itself as the only major sand dune in Korea. The sand dune is 3.4 kilometers long, and ranges from about half to 1.3 kilometers wide. In 2001 it was designated a natural monument.

Though billed as a sand dune, strong winds from the west have been blowing the sand away, decreasing its size. Weeds are also sprouting and covering the sand dune, making it more of a dry field. The wind marks, however, often seen at deserts can be observed.

Sinduri Coastal Dune Center offers detailed information on the history of the sand dune and its ecosystem. Visitors can enjoy sand art and virtual reality activities at the center.

For those who opt for a greener view, Duwung Wetland is an option. Situated just behind the sand dune, the 65,000-square-meter-wide wetland is an area protected by the Ramsar Convention, as a home to diverse animals and plants.

Picturesque beaches 
View of Island Resom (Resom Resort)
View of Island Resom (Resom Resort)
Wansando Beach (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
Wansando Beach (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)

Kkotji Beach is iconic. The 3.2-kilometer beach is famous for its sunset views. Though it is on the west coast -- usually underappreciated by Koreans due to its murkier water -- the water is clear and low, perfect for a dip. When the tide is low, a tidal flat opens up, allowing visitors to catch small crabs and clams.

For those who would opt for a less densely populated beach, Wansando Beach provides a perfectly secluded sea bathing experience. Wansando was connected to the mainland in 2019 by the Wonsan Anmyeon Bridge, making the island a 30-minute drive from the county center area of Taean.

Less known by tourists, Wansando Beach spreads across 1.8 kilometers. Like Kkotji Beach, the water is low and clear with little for waves, making it perfect for sea bathing. The beach looks out into the seas to the west, offering a spectacular sunset view, too.

Island Resom 
Sunset view from beach terrace Island 57 at Island Resom (Resom Resort)
Sunset view from beach terrace Island 57 at Island Resom (Resom Resort)
Oasis Sunset Spa (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
Oasis Sunset Spa (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)

Run by local resort chain Resom, Island Resom is situated on Kkotji Beach. After a complete renovation, Island Resom reopened on July 10, fully equipped with new facilities.

After Taean County tore down the coastal road in front of the hotel, the beach became directly connected to the hotel, offering its 248 rooms full access to the beach.

The resort complex is separated into two areas: the hotel-style building Ocean Tower and more private Ocean Villas. Oasis Sunset Spa is a water park that uses seawater brought from the bedrock 420 meters underground. There is also the bar area Island 57, which offers cocktails and beers with an ocean view outside.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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