Waves. Get them while you can.
Seoul is three long hours from the east coast and the swells are brief, so timing is everything in Korea. Surfers agonize over daily reports and the cams to pick the exact right time to make the trip east. Seven-day forecasts tease and toy with our emotions during the week only to vanish at the last second. Epic swells abruptly turn their backs on us and march back out to sea. Seoulites envy the surfers living in the mountains or on the coast who can surf with much less hassle and heartache. Korean Huey is a cruel sort, so if you see a wave best you surf it while it’s there.
When swell approaches you have to drop everything and get out east quick, otherwise you’ll be smarting over the Facebook pictures or reports of others, kicking yourself for over-thinking it and not getting yourself on the freeway or down to the dirty, run-down bus station in East Seoul at first light. The waves don’t come every day, and they aren’t always epic but for all the analysis, travel and anxiety you just can’t miss any.
Korean and foreign surfers searching the coast north and south on a swell for the right tide, sand bank, swell direction and wind is pretty common these days, and the ones who have invested the most time are reaping the rewards as they are getting the coast dialed in all conditions. Surfers are also taking full advantage of Korea’s abundant and safe camping and the excellent love-motel and Minbak (민박) guesthouse culture to maximise all surf opportunities. Even the dreaded six-hour traffic jams on the drive back to Seoul don’t deter, as long as you can get yourself through the following week with some salt water in your hair.
As the Korean surf culture grows and the country becomes a more legitimate place for foreigners to settle long-term, then these sleepy coastal towns will develop into quirky, but bonafide surf towns in time. Underrated beauty, good waves and sparsely populated compared to the rest of the country, the east coast of Korea is a great place for surfers as long as they’re prepared to hustle a bit.