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Gatbawi Rocks, coast along Mokpo

Yonghae-dong, Mokpo-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea
+82 61-270-8383
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The "Gatbawi" rocks on Korea's SW shore Mokpo Si  South Korea

The "Gatbawi" rocks on Korea's SW shore

Two legends surround these distinctive 'tafoni'-geological formations on the southwestern coast of Korea. One involves filial piety—see the 'father' and 'son' wearing conical hats? The other says that when the Buddha and a disciple were in the area, they rested here, by the sea, but forgot to take their hats with them when they continued on their way...

An over-the-saltwater walkway now allows you to view these distinctive rocks without having to board a boat. A short walk away is Korea's National Maritime Museum (free admission!) where 12th-century relics can be seen along with the partially-reconstructed shipwrecks where they were found.

Mokpo, for most travelers, is simply the gateway to the hundreds of islands off Korea's southwest coast, including the subtropical volcanic playground of Jeju-do. But if you're a history buff, into spicy seafood and early 20th-century Japanese colonial architecture, stick around for a couple of days. Mokpo has a friendly if gritty charm that might start to grow on you. And there's even a seaside mountain within the city limits for forested urban hiking.

Mokpo is the terminus for the country's southwestern KTX railway and the major ferry and industrial port for the region.