Haenam county’s, Ttangkkeut Village (translates to ‘end of land’), is the southernmost point of the Korean peninsula. On December 31st, many people visit the village to watch the last sunset of the year or the first sunrise of the new year. It has long become a prime destination in Haenam.
But there is a lot more to Haenam, a county in South Jeolla Province, than just the yearly ritual. It offers gorgeous landscapes with mountains, coastlines, and fields and delicious delicacies of Jeolla Province. It certainly makes up for more than four-hour drive from Seoul.
The county of Haenam (해남) is a destination that will take you far away from the urban jungles of Seoul. Not only is it geographically distant from the hustle-bustle of the city, but the region is also a treasure trove of scenic beauty and cultural enrichment. It makes up for a great weekend away from your daily routine or offers something different from usual tours in big cities of South Korea.
Spectacular Buddhist Temples
The temple is hidden deep within the ancient forests of Mt. Duryunsan. It was during the time of King Seong of the Baekje period by Adohwasang and has been rebuilt several times over the years since then. The monastery itself is quite large, and you can reach it via a beautiful trek through some of the oldest forests of Korea.
Daeheungsa Temple is home to many historic buildings, including the beautiful main hall with its fantastically crooked wooden pillars. The central courtyard is off to the left, separated from the rest of the complex by a beautiful stream. There is also a Confucian shrine dedicated to Seosan behind the temple.
Mihwangsa is hidden in the rocky mountain ridges of Dalmasan. The temple is more than 1,300 years old and was founded in 749 during the Shilla Dynasty. It is surrounded by a lush green forest and jagged peaks of Mt. Dalmasan. The temple is situated the farthest south of all the temples in the Korean peninsula.
Unlike most Buddhist temples in the region, Mihwangsa’s roof does not have dancheong, colorful Buddhist decorations. Although the temple may look simple from a distance, the monochrome roof appears serene and beautiful. You can see the age of the temple from the patterned creases in the uncolored wooden roof. The cornerstone of Daeungbojeon (Main Buddha Hall) is carved with sea creatures, such as turtles and crabs that cannot be observed elsewhere.
Natural Beauty of Camellia and Maehwa
Haenam is known for two beautiful flowers – Maehwa (apricot flowers) and Camellia (winter flower).
Bohae Plum Farm is the largest plum farm in Korea and is home to beds of maehwa in March when the flowers are in full bloom. The flowers look like a curtain draped all over the farm. It also hosts the annual Bohae Maesil Festival every March. However, this year, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the farm is not open to the public.
Apart from the blossoming maehwa, the farm is also surrounded by camellia trees. These trees create a tunnel-like effect making it a very picturesque scene. The trees bloom in February with a striking contrast of scarlet red petals of the flower on the dark green leaves.
Haenam is famous for its sweet potatoes, with locals preparing many different food items using it as a base. You can find a variety of food items made with the root vegetable, from lattes to sweet potato filled bread.
Another specialty of the region is ‘set table dining’ or sangcharim. A whole table laid out with delicacies from the land and ocean, and several dishes are served, including sannakji (live octopus), jeonbokjang (fermented abalone), and hongeo (skate).