Jukbyeon Port (죽변항; map) lives on the northern end of Uljin. Along with Hupo Port, it is one of the largest ports in Uljin County and a major center of commercial fishing on Korea’s east coast.
Tourists visit Jukbyeon to dine at its snow crabs, squid, and raw fish restaurants. But Jukbyeon holds a handful of other tourist bait, including a monorail, heart-shaped beach, and national maritime museum.
Let’s tour the port.
Fishing in Jukbyeon
Fishing is Jukbyeon’s primary income source. Long before dawn, 3 to 6-ton fishing boats, loaded with crab cages and nets, swing around the port’s breakwater and head out to the East Sea to wrangle in some sea meat.
Where do they go?
Wangdolcho (왕돌초). This giant reef perches in the East Sea 23 kilometers off Uljin County’s coast. This rocky underwater mountain holds three peaks, which rise from 150 to 4 meters below the surface.
Over 120 species crawl, swing, and slither around Wangdolcho. Fishers from both Yeongdeok and Uljin Counties visit the reef daily, scoop up its marine inhabitants, and bring them to their respective ports.
Jukbyeon fishers trap a smorgasbord of seafood at Wangdolcho. But two creatures bring the port the most fame: snow crabs and squid.
Like Ganggu, Chuksan, and Hupo in the south, snow crabs dominate the fish markets in Jukbyeon Port. Jukbyeon fishers catch most of their snow crabs between November and May.
Most of Jukbyeon’s foodie tourists visit local restaurants to dine on these steamed, meat-filled crabs in late-February, around Seollal (Lunar New Year), when they reach peak-weight.
Squid live all along the East Sea in Korea. But Jukbyeon Port is the epicenter. From May to November, the port’s fishing boats pull in over 3,000 tons of squid per day.
However, over the past 10 years squid populations in the East Sea have plummeted. Overfishing and climate change.
Market & Auction
Jukbyeon’s fish market holds an auction every morning. The squid auction in the summer and fall begins at dawn. While the snow crab auction starts around 8:30 AM.
Before the bidding begins, workers sort and cover the market floor with the day’s catch. Snow crabs belly-up in a large grid. Squids squirting around in blue plastic containers.
Buyers and fishers gather round as the auctioneer barks out bids and sales. Restaurateurs and resellers transfer their purchase into sloshing tank trucks and zoom off to their destinations.
The public can’t buy any product from the auction. But they can view the action.
Other Jukbyeon Port Highlights
Jukbyeon Port keeps a few more notable landmarks in its borders.
- Hujeong Village Juniper (후정리 향나무; map) is a 500-year-old tree with a split trunk brought to Jukbyeon from Ulleung Island. Uljin County holds the juniper tree sacred tree. And folks in Seoul designated it a national monument.
- Bongpyeong Beach (봉평해수욕장; map) was once a famous in Uljin County. However, in the 2000s, coastal erosion wore away much of the beach’s two-kilometer-long sands.
- Jukbyeon Breakwater (죽변방파제; map) is a popular fishing spot, packed with anglers in the summer.
National Maritime Science Museum
National Maritime Science Museum (국립해양과학관; map) lies on Hujeong Beach (후정해수욕장; map) on the north coast of Jukbyeon Port. Opened 2020, it is the first oceanic science museum in Korea.
Its permanent exhibition features 10 zones. Each seeks to popularize one aspect of marine science with easy-to-understand exhibits and explanations. Its rooms cover everything from El Niño and La Niña, to marine life, to the effects of climate change on the world’s seas.
A 400-meter long pier extends from the museum’s main hall over the East Sea. A tower perches at the end of the pier. It holds a second-floor viewing deck and an underwater observatory (바닷속전망대) that sinks 7 meters into the East Sea.
- Free Admission
- 9:30 AM ~ 5:30 PM
- Closed Mondays and Public Holidays