Camellias are the city flower of Busan. Busan is one of the first places in South Korea where camellia flowers start to bloom during the winter.
Dongbaekseom Island is certainly the place where you can find blooming camellias in Busan. And, its name says it all.
On This Post
- General Information about Dongbaekseom Island
- 11 Things To Do on Dongbaekseom Island
- History and Location of Dongbaek Island
- What Does Dongbaekseom Mean?
- When To Visit Dongbaekseom Island
- Dongbaekseom Island in Kdramas and Korean Songs
- Tours Including Dongbaekseom Island
- Where to Stay Near Dongbaekseom Island
- Things To Do Near Dongbaek Island
Information about Dongbaekseom Island
Address and Map
99, Dongbaek-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan, South Korea
How to Get to Dongbaek Island
- Subway: Ride Line 2 (Green Line). Get off at Dongbaek station (동백/204), Exit 1. Then walk 1.3km (0.8 miles) for 20 minutes or so.
- Bus: Ride No. 139, 307, or 1003. Get off at Dongbaekseom Ipgu bus stop (동백섬입구).
- Walk from Haeundae Beach: Walk to the Westin Josun Busan Hotel. Go to the main entrance of Dongbaek Island on the right side of the hotel. Or, take the left side (you will see the steps), and step onto the coastal trail.
- Automobiles or bicycles can’t enter the island.
Paid parking is available.
- Call: +82 51-749-7621 (Haeundaegu Office)
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you. If you use these links to purchase a tour or other items, I may earn a commission.
11 Things To Do on Dongbaekseom Island
Walk on Trails
Trails surround the whole island. You can enjoy one of the best views in Busan from many spots on the trails. The views include famous landmarks of Busan like Gwangan Bridge, Oryukdo, and Haeundae Beach.
All the points of interest on the island are on the trails, including Nurimaru APEC House and the suspension bridge. The trail is only about 1km (about 0.5 miles) and not elevating too high so it shouldn’t be too hard for everyone.
Visit Nurimaru APEC House
Nurimaru APEC House is nestled at the tip of Dongbaekseom Island. This place hosted the 2005 APEC Summit Meeting.
Since then, this unique building has been a must-visit place in Busan, South Korea. I wrote a post for a complete guide to Nurimaru APEC House.
Stop by the Lighthouse Observatory
Right next to Nurimaru APEC House stands a lighthouse. Here you can enjoy amazing views from the skyline of Haeundae Beach to the endless horizon over the ocean.
See Choi Chiwon Statue and Monument
At the top of Dongbaekseom Island, the monument and statue of Choi Chiwon welcome visitors. You may wonder who this person is. The answer: he named the area, ‘Haeundae.’
Choi Chiwon was born in AD 857 during 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. He retired at age 40 and wandered all over the Korean peninsula with his family.
While he was traveling the country, he passed by the Haeundae area on the way to Mountain Gaya. He was so impressed by its natural beauty. He named the area after his pen name, ‘Haeun’.
Find Haeundae Carved Stone
From the Nurimaru Observation Deck, you can see Haeundae Carved Stone. The name ‘Haeundae’ is inscribed on the stone.
It is not historically proven whether Choi Chiwon actually carved the inscription himself. But, there is a record from Goryeo Dynasty that describes the carved stone. Thus, the story gets more credibility.
Step on the Suspension Bridge
Follow the coast side path and you will meet the suspension bridge. It has a transparent part where you can see the water and rocks below your feet.
Because the bridge is quite short and not too high, you don’t have to worry too much even if you are afraid of height.
Take a picture of Princess Hwangok Mermaid Statue
Walk a little more toward Haeundae Beach from the suspension bridge, you will see the Princess Hwangok Mermaid statue. Like many mermaid statues in the world, this one has its own story.
The Legend of Princess Hwangok Mermaid Statue
Princess Hwangok of the Naranda Kingdom married King Eunhye of the Mugung Kingdom. Queen Hwangok felt homesick and, as time passed, it got worse.
A turtle, the queen’s bodyguard, felt sympathy for her. He gave her a topaz (‘hwangok’ in Korean) and tell her to take it out and shine it on the full moon.
On the night of the full moon, Queen Hwangok held up the topaz to the moon. And, before her eyes, the beautiful moonlit night of her homeland appeared. Then, Queen Hwangok transformed into a mermaid princess, and she was able to freely swim in the sea.
Some historians believe that this legend is based on the true story of Queen Heo Hwangok (of course, not the mermaid part).
She was a princess of Ayuta Kingdom, which is assumed a part of the Old Indian Kingdoms. And she became the wife of King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya.
The mermaid statue was originally built in 1974, but it was destroyed by a typhoon in 1987. Sculptor Im Dongrak created the present one in 1989.
Have a Cup of Coffee at 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. Here is a link to the discounted ticket.
The outdoor deck is quite popular during the warm season thanks to its view of high rises in Marine City. For more information, here is The Bay 101’s website.
Enjoy the Breathtaking Ocean Views at Multiple Spots on Dongbaekseom Island
On Dongbaekseom Island, there are multiple observation areas for stunning views. You can enjoy views of Gwangan Bridge, Igidae Coastal Walk, the skyline of Haeundae Beach, Dalmaji Hill, and more.
Meet Prince Cordelia
At the entrance of Dongbaekseom Island, you will meet another Princess Mermaid. Princess Cordelia Pet is an installation artwork created with used PET bottles.
Although Princess Cordelia Pet is not as famous as Princess Hwangok Mermaid, her message to visitors is not less important.
The City of Busan planned a project to raise public awareness about recycling and keeping the ocean clean. Princess Cordelia Pet is a part of the project.
The purpose of the artwork is well expressed in a letter from the princess:
Letter From Princess Cordelia Pet
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.”
History and Location of Dongbaekseom Island
Dongbaekseom Island is adjacent to Haeundae Beach. It is on the opposite side of Dalmaji Hill.
As you may assume from the name, Dongbaekseom Island was once an island. Later, the island joined the land by sedimentation of sands carried by waters flowing down from Jangsan Waterfall and Buhong Peak.
FYI, you may want to find where Dongbaek Park (동백공원) is. The whole Dongbaekseom Island is the park itself.
What Does Dongbaekseom Mean?
Dongbaekseom means the island of camellias. ‘Dongbaek’ is camellias in Korean and ‘seom’ means an island. Thus, Dongbaek Island and Dongbaekseom Island are the same.
Dongbaekseom Island is home to 20,000 camellia trees. No doubt that it’s called Camellia Island.
When To Visit Dongbaekseom Island
Camellias bloom over the whole island from winter to spring. Due to climate change, it’s getting harder to pick the specific months for the full bloom. Normally they bloom between December and February.
Dongbaekseom Island in Kdramas and Korean Songs
Dongbaekseom Island has been a stage for many popular Korean dramas, movies, and songs. Come Back to the Port of Busan (돌아와요 부산항에) by Jo Yongpil (he was 1980’s BTS) is a very famous song from the 70s. The song starts with the lyrics of ‘at the blooming Dongbaekseom 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.
Some parts of a K-drama, Shopping King Louie, were filmed on this island as well.
Tours Including Dongbaekseom Island
These tours and activities can make your trip to Dongbaekseom Island more dynamic, memorable, or comfortable.
Where to Stay Near Dongbaekseom Island
The Westin Josun Busan sits at the edge of Dongbaekseom Island boasting the best views of Haeundae Beach.
The Haeundae area is packed with hotels from 5-star luxury hotels to affordable ones. Choose according to your budget and plan.
Things To Do Near Dongbaekseom Island
Haeundae Beach is adjacent to Dongbaekseom Island. You can simply walk to this must-visit beach. Read my complete guide to Haeundae Beach.
Enjoy the breathtaking views from Busan X The Sky on the 100th floor of Busan’s landmark building. Read a post about Busan X the SKY.
If you are planning to travel to the east side of Busan, you need to visit Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Read my complete guide to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple.
You can also spend time at SEA LIFE Busan Aquarium, have fresh seafood at Mipo Port, or enjoy a relaxing time with a cup of coffee at Dalmaji Hill.
For Your Information: Where to Eat in Busan, South Korea