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Chuam Candlestick Rock

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Chuam Candlestick Rock (추암촛대바위; map) is a unique rock formation that sits in a “Stone Forest” on the border between Donghae City and Samcheok City

Han Myeong-hoe (한명회; 1415 ~ 1487), a Joseon Dynasty official, was so captivated by these rock formations he named the surrounding area Neungpadae (능파대; map), which translates to “Walk of a Beauty.”

Chuam Candlestick Rock also gained fame for appearing in South Korea’s National Anthem video.

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The Stone Forest

Along Donghae City’s coast sits a cluster of limestone rock formations. Once buried underground, years of saltwater waves have unearthed and shaped the rocks into their present shapes. Known as lapies, these limestone rocks are rare in Korea, which earned the area the nickname “Korea’s Stone Forest.”

Candlestick Rock (chotdae bawi; 촛대바위) is the most celebrated rock. It resembles a tall candle that soars skyward from the East Sea’s waves. But locals have also named other formations that resemble turtles, young couples, brothers, toads, and elephants.

Legends and Myths

Legend tells that a long time ago, a local Chuam man living a contented life with his wife grew bored. So he took another lover. When his wife found out, his household became a den of jealousy and backstabbing. The domestic strife angered the gods, and they struck both women dead with bolts of lightning.

Consumed by his loneliness and grief, the fisherman could not move on from the tragedy. He spent the rest of his days staring out at the horizon. As time passed, he slowly turned into Candlestick Rock.

Originally, Candlestick Rock included two more limestone spires, which symbolized the wife and concubine. But a hundred years ago, lightning struck and destroyed them.

Haeam Pavilion

Haeam Pavilion (해암정; map; Haeamjeong) sits on a hilltop overlooking Candlestick Rock. It was built in 1361 by Sim Dong-ro (심동로), the founder of the Samcheok Shim Clan. Recognized as a Tangible Cultural Heritage No. 63 by Gangwon State, the pavilion holds a bit of local history.

Sim Dong-ro was a renowned scholar during the Goryeo Dynasty (918 ~ 1392). He retired at a young age because of the treachery inside the royal court. After trying to convince Sim to stay, King Gongmin allowed him to go in peace and gave him the name “Dong-ro” or “East Old Man.” Sim settled along the East Sea, where he built Haeam Pavilion and opened a school.

Haeam Pavilion was later rebuilt on a low stone foundation with three bays (open spaces between support pillars) in the front, two bays on the sides, and a hip-and-gable roof top. Other than the front, all sides have sliding doors.

Three plaques hang in front of Haeam, each written by prominent scholars who visited the pavilion, including Song Si-yeol (center plaque), Sim Ji-hwang (left plaque), Jeong Cheol (right plaque). Inside, you’ll also find inscriptions and poems filling the rafters and walls.

Many anthologies compiled by Korean scholars write about Candlestick Rock and Neungpadae. The one below was written by a scholar during the Joseon Dynasty:

The thousand-foot cliff seems piled with ice,

How many times did the cloud scythe and thunder axe chop?

Horse hooves rushing into the water pause for a moment,

Startled by the pheasant bathing and fluffing in the sea.

Following the waves, the noble song of the teacher comes to mind,

And seeing the waves, the vigorous brush of Mae Seung appears.

Though not far from Bongrae Mountain,

Hard to leave, watching Nungpadae.

  • Lee Sik (1584 ~ 1647)


The area surrounding Chuam Candlestick Rock features several notable highlights. Let’s run through a list.

  • Chuam Suspension Bridge (추암촛대바위 출렁다리; map) is a 72-meter long pedestrian bridge opened in 2019 along the coastline overlooking Candlestick Rock. It allows visitors to snap photos of the East Sea and rare limestone formations that dot the coast. Access is restricted during bad weather.
  • Chuam Beach (추암해수욕장; map) straddles the border between Donghae and Samcheok. Smaller than most, the beach offers views of Candlestick Rock, summer fun — soft sand, inflatable tubes, swimming — and nearby restaurants serving up squid, sea squirts, sea cucumbers, and flounder.
  • Brothers Rock (형제바위; map; hyeongje bawi) are a pair of that stand in the sea near Candlestick Rock. Representing brotherly love, they symbolize familial bonds in.

Isabu Lion Park & Picture Book Land

Isabu Lion Park & Picture Book Land (이사부사자공원&그림책 나라; map) lies at the top of a coastal hill, offering a breathtaking view of Chuam Beach and Chuam Candlestick Rock. Established in 2011, the park provides stunning vistas of the East Sea, making it a popular spot for picnics and scenic hikes from spring to fall, and sledding in winter.

Named after General Isabu, who was appointed by King Jijeung of Silla and famously conquered the islands of Ulleungdo and Dokdo in 512 AD using ships adorned with wooden lions, the park is steeped in historical significance. Visitors can ascend the grand steps, flanked by a trickling waterfall stream, leading to the vibrant Picture Book Land.

Picture Book Land is a children’s paradise, featuring a library, storybook displays, an indoor playground with cozy reading areas, and more. Although the building closes around 5 PM, the outdoor exhibits remain open around the clock. These exhibits include literary-themed artworks such as oversized books, a charming hillside café, and observation decks with panoramic views of Chuam Beach and Sol Beach Samcheok (쏠비치 삼척; map), a large resort complex with distinctive blue roofs perched on a nearby hillside.