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Oedo Island: A Paradise on Earth
Korea's first privately owned island is a popular tourist attraction on the southern coast
Nayan Sthankiya (internews)     Print Article 
Published 2005-03-11 17:11 (KST)   
This is a great place to look out over the emerald blue waters at Memorial Hall, a seaside observatory.
©2005 NSthankiya
On the southern coast of Korea one can find "Paradise Island." For some 30 years, owners Lee Chang Ho and his wife Choi Ho Sook have cultivated a barren rocky island into a horticultural dream.

More commonly called Oedo, the island boasts more than 1,000 different types of subtropical plants and other exotics. It is a nature lover's dream come true, with parks, sculpture gardens and Mediterranean-style buildings.

Modern sculpture is represented here at the "Hope of the World" sculpture garden.
©2005 NSthankiya
The island's many gardens are filled with the blooms of colorful flowers.
©2005 NSthankiya
An Oedo vista
©2005 NSThankiya
Oedo's rugged coastline is in stark contrast to the lush vegetation found on the island.
©2005 NSthankiya
Oedo is reputed to be the first island in Korea to be owned and developed by private individuals. Opened to the public in 1995, it quickly turned into a popular tourist attraction among local Koreans and also foreign tourists. It became all the more so after it was featured in a number of Korean television dramas.

Oedo is located in the waters of the Hallyeo National Marine Park, just 4km from Geoje Island. Boats leave for Oedo from various ports around Geoje, not at any specific time but usually when they are full.

One of the many Grecian-style sculptures in the Venus Garden
©2005 NSthankiya
This island has something for almost everyone, from sculpture gardens, classical European and Mediterranean architecture and even a giant dinosaur, highlighting the discovery of fossilized footprints there. All this discovery is punctuated by the sounds of classical music flowing through the trees and plants from strategically placed speakers.

One highlight of the island is a red-tiled church that overlooks the sea, reminding one of Spanish or Greek architecture. The church is located away from the regular foot traffic and offers a quiet place to sit and reflect, or catch a quick nap before continuing on your exploration of the island.

The island has a small church for worship.
©2005 NSthankiya
©2005 NSthankiya
A traditional Korean totem head welcomes visitors.
©2005 NSthankiya
Oedo also has two cafes where you can enjoy a bite to eat or a cool drink while looking out over the sea. From Castle Oedo, on clear days you can almost make out the Japanese islands, while looking out over the rocky coastline and sheer cliffs.

This is a great place to spend a few hours or an entire day walking around enjoying all the sites and smells from the myriad of trees and plants. Unfortunately there are no accommodations for visitors on the island, so if you miss the last boat back to the mainland you might have to spend the night sleeping under the stars.
Nayan Sthankiya is a Canadian photojournalist. Based in South Korea for the last four years, he covers various news and feature stories in Korea, China and Asia Pacific.

His background includes photography, sculpture, painting, design, video and travel. Trained in media arts at the Alberta College of Art and Design, with a minor in photography, his images have been published locally and internationally in magazines, dailies and the Internet.
©2005 OhmyNews

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