Author’s note: ‘Revisited’ posts are intended to be a fresh look at a place I’ve visited before. In many cases, it will have been years between visits, and offers a chance to see a place with a fresh set of eyes (and more than likely, a much better camera than I had before!). While they won’t replace the old post, directions and information for visitors will always be included.
Despite a rather curious acronym, the island of Oedo (pronounced ‘weh-do’) remains gorgeous year-round. It certainly wasn’t warm enough to ditch the jacket, but the sizable percentage of evergreen plants or trees didn’t seem to notice.
As a part of the tour, most ferries will stop by the Haegeumgang rocks — count this as a sideshow, the warm-up act, and a sight that seemingly knows no weather:
Despite the high being a negative number in Celsius, this was a golden opportunity for people to break out the smartphones and DSLR’s. The ship motors forward into the crevice, although each ferry seems to choose how far in they choose to penetrate the impassable.
A reminder of the area’s sub-tropical climate — unfortunately palm trees have a tough time in the weather.
Oedo literally means ‘outside island’ — a simple enough name counterbalanced by nearby Nae-do (‘inner island’). Oddly, it’s been given the acronym Oriental Echoic Dream Oasis, possibly by a committee charged with being creative on short notice. Whatever the marketing team decides, the story remains the same — a fisherman Lee Sang Ho got stranded on the isolated island back in 1969. His wife, Choi Ho-sook, joined him to make a second home on the island, and began their island lives by planting mandarins and breeding pigs.
The island featured 80-meter-high cliffs — a stunning sight, but difficult to dock to — which necessitate a fairly steep uphill climb once you arrive. The couple was eventually given official approval to cultivate the island in 1976 after their previous initiatives failed. The story tends to skip the growing years, and focuses on how the area was transformed — what was once a pig pen turned into the Venus Garden; a sweet potato farm became a hill full of cacti.
It’s fairly considered a paradise island — even highly regarded Jeju-do isn’t referred to in that manner. Beautiful, yes, and plenty of quirky museums around — and plenty of hotels to make your stay an overnight one. Your longest visit here is likely to be an hour and a half or so — the time the ferries give you on the island.
The architecture certainly assists the otherworldly feel — there are few places on the mainland where would you see anything similar.
Some of the aforementioned cliffs — try docking a boat to that.
Some other statues along the single path — entitled the 동심 series, which translates to childlike or innocence. The eight statues all show different ways of 말타기, or horse riding.
In some cases the trees have been cut unnaturally to create a shelter or photo spot — yes, I’m a geek, and I’d rather take pictures of what’s around rather than of my ugly mug.
One of the final buildings, a gallery displaying some of the formative photos from yesteryear. A souvenir store is around, primarily offering fragrant reminders of the island.
This is one destination where getting here is the hardest part. Once on the island, there’s one path up and one path down, so there’s little likelihood of getting lost. While the schedules can (and do) change based on the weather and season, the ferries seem fairly regular. A tip: eat some lunch before leaving the bus terminal area. What’s around the ferry is mostly based around seafood and overpriced — even the non-seafood options.
Name: Oedo (외도)
Address: Gyeongsangnam-do Geoje city, Il-un-myeon Wa-hyeon-ri San 109
Korean address: 경상남도 거제시 일운면 와현리 산109
Directions: It’s an island, which means a ferry ride is required. It’s easiest to reach from Okpo Ferry Terminal, but ferries also go from Jangseungpo Terminal and a number of smaller ferries along the southern coast. From Geoje’s Gohyeon Bus Terminal, take bus 10, 11, 22, or 23–1 to Okpo Harbor (옥포항) or Jangseungpo Harbor (장승포항)
Hours: Typically, during the day — you’ll only have the hour to hour-and-a-half offered by the ferry, though!
Admission: 8,000 won (usually paid with your ferry ride fee — for us, the round-trip ferry for 17,000 won a person — 25,000 won a person total)