South Han River Islands
Three notable islands sit in the South Han River near the bottom of the Hangang Bike Path.
Hundreds of islands populate the South Han. But these three offer the most scenic vistas and host walking trails, silver-haired grass, and migratory birds.
Let’s explore them!
Gangcheon Island (Gangcheon-seom; 강천섬; map) sits at the bottom Yeoju City (여주시; map). Thousands of years of sediment build-up formed the island in the South Han River.
This 571,000-square-meter Gangcheon Island lived submerged in the river until engineers completed Gangcheon Weir five-kilometers upriver. The watergate lowered the water level downriver, revealing the Gangcheon Island.
Today, trekkers or cyclists travel Gangcheon Bridge onto the island. They stroll its ginkgo-tree-lined paths and view endangered wormwood flowers.
In the past, daytrippers, families, and jakaemjok (자캠족; bikepackers) were free to pitch their tents on Gangcheon Island. However, a few littering, fire-setting, drunk-fighting scalawags forced Yeoju City to ban camping, fishing, and grilling on Gangcheon.
Binae Island (Binae-seom; 비내섬; map) lives on a rural section of the South Han River in northern Chungju City (충주시; map).
Pampas reeds, which bloom silver-tufted tops in the fall, fill the 990,000-square-meter island. Other than a few dirt trails, Binae remains empty of human decor.
Korean TV shows and movies have used Binae Island as a pastoral backdrop. Rows of movie posters plaster the parking lot near the low concrete bridge leading onto the island. Props left behind when productions wrapped litter the island’s walking trails.
Binae Island is one stop along the Binae Road (Binae-gil; 비내길; map). The tourists trail also passes Ang Seong Hot Springs, a migratory bird observatory, an ancient ferry site, and more.
Binaeseom Certification Center (비내섬 인증센터; map) sits on the mainland near Binae Island’s parking lot. Stamp your Bike Passport here!
Neungam Village Island
Neungam Village Island (Neungam-ri-seom; 능암리섬; map), the seventh of the South Han’s Eight Views, lies 24-kilometers north of downtown Chungju on the South Han River.
Less known than Binae and Gangcheon, the 200-meter long Neungam Village Island is free of human settlements. In fact, only a stepping stone bridge allows upright coffee-cup-clutchers access to the river island (road view).
Bird watchers and photographers visit Neungam Village Island for its migratory birds, which include mandarin ducks, whooper swans, buzzards, and long-billed plovers.