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Tourist attractions along Chayooro

Posted March. 21, 2001 18:51,   


It was the spring equinox day Tuesday, when the lengths of the day and night are the same. The increased sunshine proves that spring is a step closer. At this time a year, a drive on Chayooro, the Freedom Road, with no congestion while enjoying the landscape will refresh the mind and body after being huddled up in the cold winter. Adding to the delight is the wide variety of dishes available along the way, all made with fresh water fish from the Imjin River and beans free of pollution.

A family outing with the kids is best because the tour offers a good chance for children to see with their own eyes the remnants of the Korean War such as Unification Observatory at Imjin-gak Pavilion and the third underground tunnels dug by North Koreans. Setting aside the destinations for ``security sightseeing,’’ the undisputed high point of the tour is the drive along Freedom Road.

▽ Freedom Road Aqualand (031-942-9114)

It is illegal to stop or park on the shoulder of Freedom Road to appreciate the landscape. Visiting the viewing stand at Aqualand, a public bath facility, is recommended. The overlook on the third floor commands a good view of the North across the Imjin River and there are telescopes available.

The stand is often crowded with spectators at around 6:30 p.m., when the sun is going to set.

After viewing the sunset, visitors may enjoy seven-step massages using high water pressure or take a dip in an open air bath. As many as 10,000 people can use the public bath simultaneously. The admission fee is 6,000 won. A large sailing vessel cafe, which has yet to open, is sure to attract your eye.

▽Unification Observatory (031-945-3171)

You can see the Unification Observatory atop Mt. Odu in Songdong-ri, Tanhyon-myon, Paju City, Kyonggi Province after a 20-minute drive on the Freedom Road after entering it through Kangbuk Road or Kimpo Bridge. You can see at a glance the village in Kijong-dong, North Korea through a telescope and North Korean residents at work in the fields.

Arriving at the observatory at around 6:30 p.m., when the sun sets on the Imjin River, is timely for couples. Visitors have to use shuttle buses in the parking lot at the foot of Mt. Odu. If you want to drive your car to the top, you have to make a reservation a day before. The admission fee is 1,500 won.

▽ Restaurants

There are many restaurants in the area specializing in natural eels and ``hwangbok’’ (yellow swellfish), the specialty of the Imjin River. There are also many eateries serving food made from ``Changdan’’ beans. The rare yellow swellfish has yet to arrive at the river and it is still too early to enjoy natural fresh water eels. About 50 licensed fishermen supply fresh water fish to the restaurants. Natural catfish ``maeuntang’’ is popular in this region.

▽ Other sights

At the Imjin-gak Pavilion there are displays of airplanes, helicopters, tanks and other weapons that were used during the 1950-1953 Korean War. Tours by shuttle bus `` which run at one hour intervals on weekdays, and frequently on weekends `` do not run to the Unification Village inside the Civilian Control Line, Mt. Dora Observatory and the third underground tunnel. The site of restoration work on the Kyungui Railroad Line (Seoul-Sinuiju) is the place to see unification efforts in progress.

Lee Dong-Young argus@donga.com