Four rivers facilitate water sports, leisure
By Yun Suh-young
BUYEO ― The government’s four-river restoration project is nearing its end and the results are slowly being unveiled.
Reservoirs built on the four rivers ― the Han, Geum, Yeongsan, and Nakdong ― have been completed and regions near them are being developed to serve the community and boost tourism and leisure activities.
The Geum River, which is called the Baekma as it enters the Buyeo region, has three reservoirs one of which this reporter visited.
Baekje-bo, or Baekje Reservoir, is located in the middle of Baekma River which runs through Buyeo County in South Chungcheong Province.
The reservoir, 311 meters long and 7.2 meters high, has a purification system that facilitates the circulation of stagnant water and manages water levels with a movable weir.
The reservoir was designed in the form of a horse saddle to symbolize Admiral Gyebaek’s return to the river to protect it. Gyebaek was a warrior of the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C.-660 A.D.) who fought bravely against the rival Silla Kingdom and defeated it in four battles.
The Baekje-bo has a bicycle road beneath the saddle structure which runs across the river. As part of the restoration project, bicycle roads are built around the four major rivers to attract local residents and sports-goers to the region.
Riding along the bicycle road and feeling the wind is a refreshing experience. The bicycle road extends about 25 kilometers to get to Gongju-bo, the second reservoir built on the Baekma ― Sejong-bo is the third.
Baekma River also offers other sports activities such as kayaking and motor boat rides. Those wanting to kayak can paddle their boat along a 21-kilometer route to Ganggyeong town.
Attractions near Baekma River
When visiting the river, ride along it on a Hwangpodotbae, a wooden boat that has its sail painted with red clay. The boat will take you to Nakhwa Rock, one of the most famous tourist sites in Buyeo. The name Nakhwa means “flowers fall” which came from the tale of court ladies throwing themselves into the river rather than be captured by Silla warriors when they defeated Baekje.
On top of the rock is a small pavilion, Baekhwajeong, where visitors can get a beautiful view over the river. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes on foot to get to the pavilion from the dock.
A few minutes from the dock is Goransa or Goran Temple, which is situated next to a mineral spring that allegedly makes a person who drinks from it three years younger. An old tale has it that an old lady who wanted to conceive a baby eventually got to raise a baby, which later, turned out to be her husband who drank the water so many times that he turned into a baby.
A tale is a tale, but there are some who say they feel their skin is rejuvenated after drinking the water. Who knows? You may too.
Across the river
On the other side of Baekma River, across Buyeo County, is a Baekje Culture Land which is a traditional village reenacting Baekje culture.
When entering through the Jeongyangmun, the main gate, you may find a reproduction of a royal palace, Sabigung. Next to it is a Life and Culture Village which reenacts the lifestyles of the Baekje Kingdom.
Taking a walk along Dulegil or Dule walkway may be good for those who want to enjoy nature around the traditional village.
Those wanting to enjoy their visit to Buyeo for more than a day can stay at Lotte Buyeo Resort located next to the culture land. The resort, built to harmonize modernity and tradition, is close to most tour sites.
Other than Buyeo
If you have enough time, visit Gongju, just north of Buyeo. The region also has the Geum River flowing through it _ from the new administrative city of Sejong to Gongju City and into Buyeo County before reaching the ocean.
For those who need some quiet time, trek along the trails of Magok Temple. The temple is known to be home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Korea, and is good for meditation.