Worth a Trip: Jindo Island
Jindo (진도), Korea’s third-largest island, boasts some of the world’s largest tides. The island is famous for an unusual natural phenomenon: for a few days each year (usually in spring), the tide drops extremely low, exposing a 2.8km-long, 40m-wide causeway that connects Jindo to the tiny island of Modo-ri.
The experience has long been celebrated among Koreans in legend. As one story goes, a family of tigers was causing so many problems on Jindo that all the islanders moved to nearby Modo, but somehow Grandma Ppong was left behind. She was broken-hearted and prayed to the Sea God to be reunited with her family. In answer to her fervent prayers, the Sea God parted the sea, enabling her to cross over to Modo and meet her family again. Sadly, she died of exhaustion shortly afterward. Statues, shrines and paintings of her can be seen throughout Jindo.
With the spread of Christianity in Korea, the similarity to the Israelites’ crossing of the Red Sea has only brought more enthusiasts. Some 300,000 people make the crossing each year – in tall rubber boots (available for rent, naturally).
The Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival (http://miracleseaeng.jindo.go.kr), which includes a torchlit procession, musical performances and a memorial ceremony for Grandmap Ppong, is held annually to coincide with the crossing.
Jindo is best accessed from Gwangju (₩12,200, 2¾ hours, every 40 minutes) or Mokpo (₩6500, one hour, every 30 minutes). From Jindo bus terminal, catch a local bus bound for Hoedong (₩1300, one hour, hourly) to the festival site; a taxi should cost about ₩13,000 and take 30 minutes.