Camellias bloom during winter over the southern parts of South Korea, and they have been beloved especially in Busan. Probably that’s why camellias are the city flower of Busan. Dongbaekseom means the island of camellias and as its name suggests, it is certainly one of the must-visit destinations in Busan.
99, Dongbaek-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan, South Korea
- Subway: Line 2 (Green Line) Get off at Dongbaek station (동백/204), Exit 1 > about 20min walk (1.3 km or 0.8 miles)
- Bus: No. 139, 307, or 1003. Get off at Dongbaekseom Ipgu bus stop (동백섬입구)
Paid parking available
- Call: +82 51-749-7621
- Website: Haeundae-gu Tourism Website
Jewel of Haeundae, Dongbaekseom Island
Dongbaekseom island is right next to Haeundae Beach on the opposite side of Dalmaji Hill. As you may assume from the name, Dongbaekseom Island was once an island. Later, it got attached to the land by sedimentation of sands carried by waters flowing down from Jangsan Waterfall and Buhong Peak.
In its name, ‘dongbaek’ is a camellia and ‘seom’ means an island in Korean. Camellias bloom over the whole island from winter to spring. You can’t enter the island with any automobiles or bicycles.
Dongbaekseom Island has been a stage for many popular Korean dramas, movies, and songs. Come back to the port of Busan (돌아와요 부산항에), a very famous song from the 70s, by Jo Yongpil (he was 1980’s BTS), starts with the lyrics of ‘at the blooming Dongbaekseom Island.’ Some parts of a K-drama, Shopping King Louie, were filmed on this island. Probably the most widely recognized K-drama featuring the island is The King: Eternal Monarch. In the TV show, the King’s (Lee Minho) palace situates on Dongbaekseom Island. Of course, the palace is all computer graphics. (See more filming locations of Korean movies and dramas.)
Trails surround the whole island and you can see one of the best ocean views in Busan along the trail. From the island, you can see many of Busan’s landmarks such as Gwangan Bridge, Oryukdo, Haeundae Beach, and Dalmaji Hill. The trail connects all the points of interest on the island including Haeundae Carved Stone, the lighthouse, Nurimaru APEC House, and more. The trail is only about 1km and not elevating too high so it shouldn’t be too hard to stroll for everyone.
Nurimaru APEC House
Nurimaru APEC House hosted the 2005 APEC Summit meeting at the tip of Dongbaekseom Island and, since then, this unique building has been a must-visit place in Busan, South Korea.
Read my post about Nurimaru APEC House here.
Choi Chiwon Statue and Monument
At the top of Dongbaekseom Island, the monument and statue of Choi Chiwon welcome visitors. Now you may wonder who this person is. The answer: he named the area, ‘Haeundae.’
Choi Chiwon was born in 857 A.D. in the Silla Dynasty. He was a gifted poet and a government officer. Although he was a very talented person, he had to go through a tumultuous period, retired at age 40 and wandered all over the Korean peninsula with his family.
While he was traveling the country, he passed by Haeundae area on the way to Mountain Gaya. He was so impressed by its natural beauty. He named the area after his penname, ‘Haeun’.
Haeundae Carved Stone
From the Nurimaru Observation Deck, you can see Haeundae Carved Stone. The name ‘Haeundae’ is inscribed on the stone. It is uncertain whether Choi Chiwon actually carved the inscription himself, but there is a record from Goryeo Dynasty (a period after Silla Dynasty) describing the carved stone so it gives more credibility to the story.
Prince Cordelia (the statue created with recycled material)
At the entrance of Dongbaekseom Island, you will meet Prince Cordelia Pet, an installation artwork created with used PET bottles. The City of Busan planned this project to raise public awareness about recycling and keeping the ocean clean. The purpose of the artwork is well expressed in a letter from the princess:
I’m princess Cordelia Pet from Plastic Island, a big island country in the Pacific. Plastic Island consists of great and small piles of plastics and is 7 times bigger than the Korean Peninsula.
The reason I’m visiting Haeundae is that the consumption amount of Korean plastic runs at 108 kilograms per capita, two times larger than the world average. More importantly, a great deal of plastics is washed away to our country. It pains me deeply that whales, turtles, and albatrosses are suffering. Lately, even small oceanic organisms such as mackerels, squids, and shrimps are affected by microplastics. You may not be able to eliminate plastics completely at the present time, but you can keep them from being swept away to sea. I ask for your interest and support for the sake of marine animals, my country, and yourself.
Respectfully Yours, Princess Cordelia Pet Emissary of the Plastic Island. August 2015
By the way, the name, Cordelia, means the jewel of the sea.”
The Bay 101
The Bay 101 is a marine leisure complex located near the entrance of Dongbaekseom Island. The facility features restaurants, cafes, and retail stores. The place offers yacht tours as well. The outdoor deck is quite popular during the warm season thanks to its night view of high rises in Marine City. For more information, here is The Bay 101’s website.
Things To Do Near Dongbaek Island
You can walk to Haeundae Beach from the Island, where you can visit SKY The X at LCT Tower and SEA LIFE Busan Aquarium. Or you can simply stroll down the beach.
If you have enough time, go have some seafood at Mipo port or enjoy a relaxing time with a cup of coffee at Dalmaji Hill.
- Planning a trip to South Korea? Click here to find more destinations here.
- Do you want to study in South Korea? Here is a basic guide to start with.
- Want to learn about Korean culture and more? Click here to find more information about it.
- Trying to learn Korean language? I have some interesting real expressions for you.
- A big fan of Korean food? How about some Korean noodles?
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