Yeongdeok County (영덕군; map) sits near the top of North Gyeongsang Province on the East Sea.
- Population: 34,560
- Size: 741 km²
- Density: 47 people per km²
- Population Center: Yeongdeok Town (영덕읍; map)
Yeongdeok and Uljin are remote restrictions. Penned in by mountains and the East Sea, no expressways travel their lands. And proper rail service didn’t come to Yeongdeok until the Donghae Line completed construction in 2018.
However, compared to Uljin, Yeongdeok is more accessible.
The Taebaek Mountains enter Gangwon Province from North Korea as mighty peaks. They shrink as they enter Yeongdeok, creating a terrain that allows more roadway connections to economic engines like Pohang, the province’s largest city, and Andong, the province’s capital.
Like Uljin, most of Yeongdeok’s major settlements rest along the East Sea. Find a parade of ports and landmarks along the coast.
Yeongdeok’s ports feature more than just fishing boats and seafood markets. Let’s explore the top seaside settlements in Yeongdeok.
- Ganggu Port (강구항; map; aerial view) is one of the largest fishing ports on Korea’s east coast. Over 100 restaurants serving snow crabs, the delicacy Yeongdeok and Uljin are known for, line the streets of Ganggu. During peak crab season, when winter turns to spring, Ganggu Port’s roads clog with foodies in SUVs; motels, pensions, and hotels sell out; and Yeongdeok’s annual snow crab festival comes to town.
- Chuksan Port (축산항; map; aerial view), or “Livestock Port,” didn’t get its name because its citizens raise pigs and cows. An early founder climbed Jokdo Mountain overlooking the port and gazed down. He thought the port’s shape resembled a cow laying down. Chuksan is Yeongdeok’s second largest port. Its fishers catch snow crabs, squid, octopus, and sandfish.
- Daejin Port (대진항; map) is Yeongdeok County’s third largest. It’s famous amongst amateur fishers. They climb the port’s breakwater, cast their lines into the water, and hope to snag a black sea bream, yellowtail, and conger eel. The port’s other bounties include abalone and seaweed.
Though Koreans know Yeongdeok for its snow crabs, the country’s other famous marine products include: gwamegi (half-dried herring), dombai (aged shark meat), squid, flounder, octopus, and mackerel.
About 12% of Yeongdeok’s residents make a living from fishing. But since the 1970s, fish populations have plummeted. This forced fishers to supplement their incomes by opening factories, raising mushrooms, or taking on side jobs.
Yeongdeok’s coast features several other noteworthy landmarks on its coast.
- Goraebul Beach (고래불해수욕장; map) or “Whale Fire Beach” is 8 kilometers long. One of the most famous beaches on the East Sea, its soft sands and shallow waters cross six coastal villages. Beside the beach find campgrounds, restaurants, and coffee shops overlooking a giant whale sculpture.
- Yeongdeok Sunrise Park (영덕해맞이공원; map) was devastated by an enormous forest fire in 1997. Since then, Yeongdeok covered the coastal area with thousands of plants, including daffodils, marigolds, camellias, and mulberry trees. Then the country weaved 2.1 kilometers of trails and stairs leading down the colorful hillside to viewing decks on the East Sea. Other park features include a crab-themed lighthouse, fish sculptures, and a 24-turbine wind farm in the hills above.
- Samsa Marine Park (삼사해상공원; map) is a seaside park south of Ganggu Port. It sits atop a hill, offering spectacular views of the sun rising over the East Sea. It includes a 29-ton sunrise bell, fishing museum, and restaurants. The Samsa Marine Trail (map), a 233-meter-long walkway, extends over the East Sea a 1.5 kilometers south of the park.
While the East Sea dominates the coast, forests and mountains cover over 80% of Yeongdeok County’s area. This swath of green provides many natural sights. Let’s explore the top highlights.
- Chilbosan Natural Recreation Forest (칠보산자연휴양림; map) is a popular hiking and camping park around Childbo Mountain (칠보산; map). Geumgangsong or red pine trees fill the park, with log cabins, campsites, viewing decks, and hiking trails between.
- Okgye Valley (옥계계곡; map) is a hidden valley with murmuring mountain streams dotted with boulders and waterfalls. It’s popular among families for camping and swimming.
- Naeyeon Mountain (Naeyeonsan; 내연산; map) is a picturesque mountain that spans Yeongdeok and Pohang City. It holds famous hiking trails and Bogyeongsa Temple (보경사; map).
- Palgaksan Mountain (팔각산; map), or “Eight Peak Mountain,” is famous for its eight spires and their unusual, exposed rock formations.
Only 10% of Yeongdeok County’s hilly landscape is farmable. However, the county produces a few famous local products, including peaches, Matsutake mushrooms, and mineral water.