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Colored in autumn beauty, Chungjuho Lake

The vast lake of Chungjuho is ensconced far inland, deep in the mountains. At this time of year, it’s at its most beautiful, ringed by glorious autumn foliage. Let’s set out on a trip to Chungjuho Lake, the inland sea.

The Namhangang River flows through Chungcheongbuk-do into Chungjuho Lake. Created by the Chungju Dam and dubbed an inland sea, Chungjuho Lake is large enough to straddle the three cities of Chungju, Jecheon, and Danyang and reflect the images of Mt. Woraksan, Mt. Gyemyeongsan, and Mt. Geumsusan. The lakeside is so breathtaking that it’s widely considered one of Korea’s greatest gifts of nature. The scenery is especially gorgeous in autumn when the leaves turn colors and are reflected on the lake, creating a scene much like an Impressionist painting.

 Hanok (Korean traditional houses) and Jangdokdae (a platform for Korean traditional crocks of sauces and condiments) in the Cheongpung Cultural Heritage Complex Hanok (Korean traditional houses) and Jangdokdae (a platform for Korean traditional crocks of sauces and condiments) in the Cheongpung Cultural Heritage Complex

Visitors can enjoy the lake in several ways. The best way to see the water up close is to take a cruise. The burning colors of the foliage around the lake reflect on the water and seem to beckon you to reach out and touch them.

The landscape around the port of Janghoe Naru (a dock where you can catch a cruise) has traditionally been called Little Geumgangsan in allusion to Mt. Geumgangsan in North Korea for its astounding beauty. From the middle of the lake, you can see the hills of Oksunbong and Gudambong, which afford one of the so-called Eight Scenic Views of Danyang. The leisurely ride through the exquisite harmony of the lake and the surrounding mountains is a romantic and unforgettable experience.

Gudambong (lit. Turtle Pond Hill) faces the lake with a soaring cliff, on top of which is a cluster of rocks whose reflection on the lake looks like a turtle. After a rainfall, the peaks of Oksunbong (lit. Jade Shoot Hill) resemble bamboo shoots against a jade-blue sky. Opposite Oksunbong is Mt. Geumsusan (lit. Silk Embroidery Mountain), which is well-known for its graceful features. The mountain was originally called Baegamsan, but the renowned scholar Yi Hwang of the Joseon Kingdom renamed the mountain Geumsusan when he was the magistrate of Danyang since it looked so fine and elegant, almost as if it were a silk-embroidered work.

The Cheongpung Cultural Heritage ComplexThe Cheongpung Cultural Heritage Complex

A TRIP BACK IN TIME

A ride through Chungjuho Lake will make you feel like you traveled back in time to the Joseon Kingdom. Set in the dazzling beauty of nature, Chungjuho Lake and the nearby cities are steeped in history. Jecheon has many historical sites and artifacts. It had long been a thriving city well into the Joseon Kingdom, when the city was called Cheongpung. Many of the historical remains and artifacts were under threat of being submerged when the Chungju Dam was built in 1985, but they were moved just in time across the Cheongpung Bridge, where today a replica of a traditional town called the Cheongpung Cultural Heritage Complex stands. Many local residents call this part of the lake Cheongpungho Lake in memory of the past glory of the city when it was called Cheongpung. The Cheongpung Cultural Heritage Complex (54,486 m2) is at the foot of Mt. Mangwolsan. It has a wealth of heritage from the Megalithic Period such as dolmens (portal tombs) and menhirs (standing stones), as well as private homes, schools, and government offices from the Joseon Kingdom. The town is uninhabited, but the houses still bear witness to how Koreans used to live. A-frame carriers, winnows, straw mats, baskets, porcelain bowls and dishes, brass spoons and chopsticks, and much more, all of which were actually used, sit under the eaves, in the kitchens, and elsewhere, seemingly undisturbed for ages.

Baskets made of straw in the Cheongpung Cultural Heritage Complex

Travel Information

▶ what to eat

Minmul Maeuntang (freshwater fish stew)

On the shore of Chungjuho Lake are restaurants that sell minmul maeuntang and daseulgi guk (marsh snailsoup; aka olgaengi guk). Among them, Eoreumgol Matjip (Tel.: 82-43-422-6315) is famous for its minmul maeuntang and mukbap (rice with acorn jelly). If you want to have some daseulgi guk, you may want to try visiting Gyeongju Sikdang (Tel.: 82-43-423-0504).

▶ how to get there

Yeongdong Expressway → Manjong Junction → Jungang Expressway → Bukdanyang Interchange → National Road 5 toward Chungju → National Road 36 at Bukha Intersection →Janghoe Naru

* Article from Korea Magazine (October 2012)

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