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Yeosu’s sea breeze welcomes visitors day and night: Relish the summer with seafood treats and a dip in the pool

July 19,2019
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A view of the South Sea from Yeosu, near where the open water swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships are being held. The international water sports tournament runs until July 28. [KIM CHUL-HO]
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Clockwise from the top left: Visitors take photos of the hand-shaped structure set up at the sculpture park at Yeosu Art Land Resort; Ice cream made with ssuk, known as mugwort in English, is a popular choice among visitors to Yi Sun-sin Square; A turtle ship at Yi Sun-sin Square; The outdoor swimming pool at Yeosu Art Land Resort is open for free until July 25. [KIM CHUL-HO]
YEOSU, South Jeolla - Although the final Open Water Swimming event for the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships Gwangju in Yeosu starts early today and wraps up around 3 p.m., the fun in the city won’t go away to entertain the visitors from near and far.

The port city is full of things to do for those who like to stay up late. Thanks to the song “Yeosu Night Sea” (2012) by Busker Busker, the city has gradually earned itself the reputation for being a city to stay for the night. Listening to the song while looking over the Yeosu sea is a great way to experience the city’s beauty. The sound of a guitar in the background with its calm melody makes the time fly.

Don’t worry if ending the night on a calm note is too boring for your taste. Thanks to the crowds coming into the city, the night market scene has become bigger than ever. At Nangman Pocha Street, over 40 food tents are set up in front of many different restaurants and pubs in Jungang-dong. Nangman means romantic, and pocha is a Korean term for a street tent that sells foods and drinks. All kinds of local treats made with fresh seafood are there, as well as some pasta dishes with a Korean flair. Credit cards are accepted, and the food booths open at 7 p.m. and stay open until 2 a.m. If it’s too hot to eat and drink outside, visitors can pick and choose any of the indoor restaurants right across the street. There are some arcades along the street for added fun.

Yeosu has a variety of options besides food and drink. Until July 25, it is free to use the swimming pool at the Yeosu Art Land Resort. The new resort, which has been open for about a year, is opening its outdoor swimming pool for the first time. The swimming pool is located on a hillside where visitors can look over the seawater. It opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5:40 p.m. People who want to go swimming at the pool can go straight to the resort’s main building and follow the path to the right of the main building.

The resort has been known among local travelers for the Trick Eye Museum as well as an open air swing inside its sculpture park. With the museum’s mobile application, visitors can have fun with augmented reality (AR) technology to take pictures or videos that make them look like they are walking under the waterfall in the mountains or struggling to climb up the buildings. Tickets are 12,000 won ($10.20) for adults and 7,000 won for children. There is an open-air swing ride and an open skywalk where visitors can walk over the ocean while attached to a rail on a rope for an extra thrill. The swing is 3,000 won, and the skywalk is 5,000 won in addition to the entrance fee to the sculpture park, which is 10,000 won for adults and 6,000 won for children.

If you want to try a local dish while in Yeosu, go for dolgejang. Gejang is a dish of crabs in a soy sauce or spicy marinade, which is usually made with blue crabs. The style in Yeosu uses smaller crabs called dolge.

Many of these dolgejang restaurants often serve rice and banchan (side dishes of vegetables and kimchi) as well as soup, and you can ask for more marinated crabs if you’re still hungry. A set meal is usually around 12,000 won.

Besides seafood, tasty “baguette burgers” are also popular in Yeosu. Close to Yi Sun-sin Square, some cafes and restaurants sell a baguette carved out and stuffed with cabbage and hamburger meat mixed with a mayonnaise-based sauce. The burgers generally costs around 4,000 won. People usually take the sandwich out to eat by the water and the model of Admiral Yi Sun-sin’s famous turtle ship. The turtle ship has spikes completely covering its deck to prevent enemy soldiers from boarding it. The ship was used by Admiral Yi during the 1592-98 Imjin War with Japan. Wrap up the walk around the square with a cup of ssuk, or mugwort, ice cream, which has become a big hit thanks to out of towners sharing photos of the sweet treat on social media.

To get to Yeosu, go to Seoul or Yongsan Station to pick up a ticket for an express KTX train to Yeosu Expo Station. Another express train on the SRT line departing from Suseo, southern Seoul, takes you to Iksan Station in North Jeolla, where you can transfer to Yeosu Expo station. The open water swimming venue is steps away from the train station. There are local buses and taxis available to get you to the places you want to visit.

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]