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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Songjeong Beach – The (Slightly) Ugly (-er) Sibling

The Beautiful Person’s Notably Less Beautiful Sibling is a cruel phenomenon. Brad Pitt’s brother is like Brad Pitt with the magic taken away. Kiefer Sutherland has a twin sister who looks like him in a wig, and Patricia Bündchen is a pleasant-looking, plain-faced Brazilian, who just happens (so cruel) to have a non-identical twin called Gisele – The London Times

Since the movie ‘Haeundae’ released last year, throwing beach-goers into a bit of a tizz over what options they have for a pleasant weekend swim  without being washed into the next province, the search has been on for a beach less likely to attract the wrath of the water gods. After visiting Haeundae Beach myself and spotting a sign that indicated you’d have to be about 70 feet high (and dressed in a business suit) to escape the impending doom should a tsunami collide with this particular part of the east coast of Korea I decided enough was enough…there have to be other options out there that won’t result in you ending up swimming down the main street of Nampodong surrounded by agitated penis fish.

Songjeong Beach - As God intended

The good news is the answer lies only a short distance up the coast. Songjeong Beach, whilst undoubtedly being a close relation to Haeundae, lacks the glitz, glamour and celebrity of its southern neighbor. Sick of getting sand kicked in your face by the Armani-toting, high-heel wearing hordes that hit Haeundae Beach every weekend? There are no chain restaurants, fashion boutiques or subway stations here at Songjeong my friends, just good old-fashioned beachfront for you to enjoy at your leisure.

Typically, summer in Korea means you and a million of your closest friends sitting shoulder-to -shoulder on a thin expanse of beach sweating up a storm. Any thoughts of cooling off are tempered by the fact that the water looks a bit like the deep-fryer at Dunkin Donuts: inner tubes bobbing up and down within the 10 meter exclusion zone that separates you from everyone else and actually getting your hair wet. I’m not going to lie to you; summer at Songjeong Beach is pretty much exactly the same.  With the official Korean ‘Beach Opening’ date of July 1st having now passed, it’s pretty much stacks on at the beaches for the next few weeks. However, come September 1st, when the lifeguards have left the beach with blistered lips and a semi-permanent pout due to 8 weeks of solid whistle-blowing, you’ll be free to wade in past the waist-deep mark. This is when Songjeong comes into its own.

You'll never make it to the horizon with this guy on watch!

When the crowds part and the lifeguards go home you’ll get a chance to not only swim unhindered by rules apparently made for people who would drown if they tripped and fell into a puddle, you’ll also have the opportunity to try out one of the water sports the beach caters for without having to stick to a token 20 metre wide area that might be fine if you’re finding your feet on a windsurfing board for the first time, or making like a teabag by lying on a longboard waiting for non-existent waves, but is not so good if you strike a day where there are actually waves available to catch and no room to catch them in.

Try your hand at the ancient Korean art of sail-wrestling

Previously, Songjeong had catered somewhat for the local surfing fraternity by allocating the ends of the beach for them to use during the busy summer period, however this year an email was sent to surfers in the area informing them that there’d be no surfing at either Haeundae or Songjeong between the hours of 9am to 6:30pm. The 20m wide area I mentioned above seems to be largely for use by surfing schools run at Songjeong and, while you can have a go at catching a wave, I’d imagine those of you who have been surfing for a while will get annoyed pretty quickly for several reasons. So, for now, it’s either head to the beach early or late to get a surf in, or wait until September the 1st and you’ll be free to do whatever you please.

Hopefully this guy creates a bit of a wave

If you want to check the waves at Songjeong before you make your way over there then you can look online – (, you’ll need to use Internet Explorer and install some plug-ins to see it though. It’s been down quite a lot lately too. A friend of mine is convinced the waves are good at Songjeong when he’s at school teaching, and bad on the weekends when he has some free time. If you want to use this as a guide, then his teaching hours are currently 9am – 5:30pm. However,  I’d advise checking the website personally.

If you do decide to visit Songjeong during the summer holiday period I have it on good authority that, in light of the recent Cheonan disaster, the lifeguards are going to be particularly strict when it comes to the designated 10m safe swimming zone this year. Apparently North Korean navy personnel have a similar eyesight problem to sharks – i.e, anything floating in the water could be seen as a potential target. So my advice is this: heed the lifeguard’s instructions, listen carefully for the whistle to tell you when you’re in an offside position, don’t employ any submarine-like flotation devices, and stay safe!

First-time windsurfers get a free puppy with every lesson

Songjeong’s Vital Statistics:

Getting there:

Bus: if you’re coming from Ulsan, make sure you get the bus that drops you off at Haeundae, otherwise you’ll face the mother of all journeys on the subway.

Train: The best option from Ulsan, the train stops at Songjeong and it’s a short walk down to the beach. Make sure you ask at the station though, as some trains skip Songjeong and stop at Haeundae.

Taxi: You might need one of these if you take the bus (or miss the stop on the train), costs about 4000 won from Haeundae.

Busy period: From July 1st to August 31st.

Surfing Lessons: There’s only one surf shop on Songjeong Beach, it’s at the northern end next to the Angel Anus coffee franchise. Lessons can be booked at Songjeong Surf Shop if you’re interested in surfing or wind-surfing. I think sea-kayaks are also available.

Eating and Drinking: The Blowfish Bar ( provides an array of Western foods if you’re looking for burgers or Mexican fare. It also recently won the award for ‘Best Burger in Busan’ in voting on the Busan Haps website. They also serve my personal favourite there – Maker’s Mark.

If you’d prefer some traditional food then there’s a kimbap restaurant next door to the Blowfish that serves the usual – kimbap, bibimbap, mandu and so on at very reasonable prices.

Coffee lovers are well catered for with an Angel Anus coffee franchise situated between The Blowfish Bar and Songjeong Surf Shop. There’s another coffee shop next door to the kimbap restaurant that offers reasonable coffee at decent prices.

Websites: (webcam)

Swell height:;

Songjeong forecast:;