Sinnam, Korea: The World’s Pointiest Park
By David Rich
South Korea’s Haesindeng Park is dedicated to an important member of the species, without which we would not exist. But a single photo is sometimes worth more than 1000 words. Thus we offer a gallery befitting one of the top ten destinations listed in Lonely Planet’s latest Korea guidebook; a definite must-see when next in Northern Asia.
The Park was inspired by local legend. The haunted spirit of a drowned virgin, a species now less known than in olden days, hexed the fishing catch. Only fishermen who peed toward the sea could appease this finicky virgin.
Being lazy sorts who preferred activities other than pissing toward the sea inspired the locals to erect substitute talismans, saving them from standing personally exposed in inclement weather.
The park is incongruously located in Sinnam, a tiny fishing village on in the middle of the east coast of South Korea, smack dab on the Sea of Japan. In Korea it’s known as the East Sea and spectacular it is, emerald waters fronting the Park, sprinkled with golden islets that necessitated a lighthouse, authentically shaped and flaming red, standing proud at the end of the adjoining pier.
Upon entry to the Park through a thick bushy portal (I just made that up) sat a quite tall protuberance sculpted from fine wood, a maiden carved at the base, praying upwards. Surely it was a dream.
To the right rose a series of interestingly shaped totems and to the left a hill artistically interspersed with a series of black vertical items behind a double-ender hanging behind an enormous member mounted on wheels like a vast cannon, practically daring every tourist to immediately pose behind it; whoa, an impressive shot for the folks back home.
Immediately ahead stood twenty wooden totems outstanding in their field. A path flanked by figures seemingly angry and in the throes of sartyrdom led upward to a plateau over-looking the harbor and the impressive red lighthouse.
On the plateau sat a ring, twelve animal representatives of the zodiac sculpted in appropriate manner, the very ones photo-featured with Lonely Planet’s Top Ten Recommendations for Korea. I had to admit that for a change LP was correct.
Opposite the plateau stood three fishermen vividly illustrating the local legend, helpless virgin positioned behind them in gaping awe. The Park is complemented by a series of benches and seats faithful to the Park’s motif, providing restful contemplation overlooking the East Sea.
The Sinnam Fishing Museum
The highlight resides in the basement of the Sinnam Fishing Museum, which exhibits sculpture from around the world, spanning eras ranging from Cavemen (or women) through ancient Greeks and Romans up to the present, illustrating the species’ historical and unending fascination with the subject matter.
Chortling tourists, of which there were many, consisting mostly of giggling and chortling middle-aged Korean females in front of every basement exhibit and everywhere on the grounds, cackled continuously and uproariously in front of every offering.
One can only guess at what a English translation of their merriment might reveal. I can only suggest that perhaps it was memories are made of this.
When You Gaze in Awe:
That which Lonely Planet calls a quirky sightseeing stop can easily be reached in tiny Sinnam by local bus from any nearby town whether Samcheok to the north or Uljin to the south, fare about $.85. For general hilarity alone entry is a bargain at $2.50, discounted to $1.25 to compensate for the envy of the Viagra set. The experience is guaranteed to elicit the inherent comedic abilities of each and every visitor.
David Rich has been an international traveler, writer, and photographer for the last 16 years, living in more than 140 countries to date. He is a full-time international traveler, an occupation he finds far preferable to his former professions of law professor and trial lawyer, from which he says he’s now “mostly recovered.”
Read about David Rich’s new book RV the World
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