A rock face with a story

South Korea’s southern town, Mokpo, was surrounded by sea on three sides. I walked a block from my hotel and couldn’t resist steps that rose to the top of Gatbawi Seacliff. Yeongsangang River lay dotted with boats and fringed with high rise, but I was in for a bigger surprize when I reached the boardwalk below.

Gatbawi Seacliff, Mokpo
Gatbawi Seacliff, Mokpo

Gatbawi meant a rock shaped like a traditional Korean hat. Once I circled the boardwalk, two boulders weathered from waves and salt, formed distinct hats.

Gatbawi Seacliff, Mokpo
Along the Gatbawi Seacliff boardwalk, Mokpo

One legend behind these two gems was about a merchant who accidently dropped his dead father into Yeongsangang River, and could no longer give him a proper burial. Consumed with guilt, he stood by the river wearing a traditional Korean hat until his own death. After his death, two rocks rose from the sea.

Another legend claimed that when Buddha and Arahan rested at the site, they left their hats behind which became the rocks.

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