One of the luxuries that I have here in Ulsan is that I am minutes away from the ocean. Coming from Manitoba, Canada I am always amazed at the ocean as the closest thing that I got to it was a very large lake. Even after going to university on the shores of Lake Superior, it didn’t match the feeling that you get standing next to the Pacific Ocean.
Being that Korea is a peninsula, the question often comes up as to where to shoot. This is not as simple of a question as it sounds. Sure, you could just pick up your camera and head out to any spot along the ocean and take a shot. You might get something useful but it is better to go out and be prepared.
This is why I have put together a list of my favourite spots. Now, keep in mind that I live in Ulsan which puts me on the Eastern side of Korea. There are a number of great spots elsewhere in the country but these here are my absolutely favourite places.
I have talked a lot about Gampo recently and even in one of my podcasts but it really is one of my favourite places to go. The reason that this place is great for me is just the relative location to Ulsan and really how nice everything is out there. You have the rugged rocks and the variety of lighthouses as well. Not to mention that it is a short drive to Gyeongju as well.
Have a listen to my podcast about gampo and if you have time, please rate it for me. It really helps get the word out about this new side project.
Haedong Yonggunsa Temple
There is something quite amazing about a seascape with a buddhist temple in the frame. One of the few, if not the only place to see this would be at Haedong Yonggunsa. While it is a full on tourist attraction/ Buddhist temple, it does offer a great view and is perfect for sunrises. Do expect a lot of tourists, even at sunrise as this is a well known sunrise location and also with the Hilton hotel being just around the corner, you will have more people in the area at that time.
With all that being said, it is still a wonderful location to get that iconic view of the temple and the sunrise. This is also a great spot to use something like PhotoPills to see where the sun is rising from. Getting the sun as close to the temple along the water is a nice touch compositionally.
Just down the road from Haedong Yonggunsa is an interesting seaside shrine. Orangdae is easy to get to and provides some great photos for sunrises or throughout the day depending on the weather conditions.
Here, you can park right above the rocky outcropping what the shrine sits on and then all you have to do is just walk down to the shore and start snapping away. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
This is a popular spot with local photographers so you may have them getting a little too close comfort, so just keep your cool. Often a nod and a headshake will work to get them to give you some space. Often if you are set up early here, you might have some photographers set up so close to you that your tripod legs get crossed. Again, just keep your cool gesture for them to give some space.
This was an area that I stumbled across working on a travel piece for my other site, Ulsan Online. It is a unique place along the small highway up to Pohang. I feel that they slightly ruined it by adding the giant observatory and making it a “no drone zone” but that doesn’t change the fact that the rocks are really something to see.
Another great thing about this area is that you can walk along the shore and explore other parts of the coast. Further down from the Observatory that overlooks the fan-shaped formation there are tons of other interesting locations.
There are two areas of the same name within a relatively short distance. Both are great spots for seascape shots. However, I would note that the one in Ulsan is the better of the two, if you ask me. The reason being is that you have a little more area to work with and the park around the Ulsan Daewangahm is really quite nice.
The Gyeongju Daewangahm is also a decent area and is located very close to Gampo. It is not a bad location by any stretch of the imagination however, it just lacks a lot of interest for me. If the sky is boring then you are going to struggle with obtaining a lot of interest in the frame.
As you head up the coast there is one spot that I would say is a show stopper for sure. That is the hand statue at Homigot Sunrise Park. This photo works simply because… well it is a giant hand reaching out of the water. The classic shot is to get birds landing on the fingers and to have the sun in between the thumb and the forefinger but really I think that there is no wrong way to shoot this. Just be creative and find some new angles because the truth here is that it has been shot to death.
The bottomline here is that this is only a small portion of the seascape possibilities on just one side of Korea. Taking into account all of the islands and the coastal waters from Incheon down to Mokpo and Busan to Tongyeong, There are endless possibilities for jaw-dropping images.