Saturday, February 18, 2006

Haeundae and Kyoungpodae

In the Joongang Daily, I found an article comparing Haeundae with Gyeongpodae (Pusan's beach - the most famous in Korea with Gangneung's beach, perhaps the second most famous). The stats were interesting:
...the number of visitors to the Gyeongpodae Beach last summer was 3.1 million, only one quarter of the 12.8 million visitors to Haeundae Beach, even though Gyeongpodae has a 6-kilometer (3.6-mile) sand beach, three times longer than Haeundae's 1.8-kilometer strip.

The article then goes into the economic reasons for the difference. Briefly, Gyeongpo is a provincial park with regulations limiting the size of buildings. Thus, Haeundae has five-star hotels while Gyeongpo only has three-star hotels. The article discusses how unfair that is for Gangneung's economy and how the regulations should be relaxed.
"If private companies are allowed to invest in the Gyeongpodae Beach area more freely, they will construct well equipped sewage disposal facilities, so environmental pollution will be reduced rather than increase," Mr. Yun said. "If unlicensed buildings are jumbled up under the current restrictions, the environmental problems will get more serious."

I am all for improving Gangneung's economic situation but I can see some holes in the logic here.
Apparently there are 'unlicensed buildings' in the park now. How will reducing restrictions solve problems when the current regulations aren't enforced? Secondly, I know that the Chosun Westin Beach in Haeundae is (or was, it's been a few years since I was last there) run by an Australian. I have nothing against Australians but clearly the money will be leaving Korea. How does that help Gangneung?

Finally, the money isn't everything. I don't want to be on a beach as crowded as Haeundae. Last summer, I went to the beach at 7:30am and had a great time without the crowds. Also, the lifeguards were just arriving so I could really swim rather than wade in waist-deep water which is all Koreans seem to be allowed to do. Now, there's a regulation that should be relaxed!


skindleshanks said...

If you want to do some swimming you should head up to Hwajinpo beach in Goseong--it's closer than Gangneung, and although it's smaller, it's more beautiful and there usually aren't lifeguards out at all. Just be careful not to swim out too far, you might find yourself in North Korean waters!

It's a beautiful beach--I just hope it won't be turned into a nudist beach next summer, or dug up and carted off like some of the other beaches in Goseong-gun.

Yankabroad said...

If private companies are allowed to invest in Gyongpodae, they will ruin it just like they've ruined Haeundae.

Haeundae is over-developed, over-crowded and terribly polluted.

Also, I've heard there are plans for a breakwater, so that Koreans can--as you put it--wade without the inconvenience of surf sloshing around.

Since I've been here, I've noticed a steady decline in beach quality, but the real problem last summer, and what kept me out of the water the most was fear of falling off my surfboard and into a loose fishing net.