Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Oryukdo Skywalk

The coastal hill, on which Oryukdo Skywalk (Pusan) was built, was called Seungdumal in the past, a derivative of Seungduma as it was thought to be saddle-shaped. Women divers and local residents had their own name for it, Jallokgae (roughly meaning "slender estuary"), but this name is now little used. Stretched out below and beyond the hill are a string of islands, sometimes 5 or sometimes 6, depending on the direction which they are viewed from. If viewed from the east, 6 islands are apparent but from the west only 5 islands can be seen, and therefore, the name Oryukdo, literally “5 or 6 islands”.  Not particularly creative in nomenclature but very easy to remember. Because of the scenic view from the various angles, the islands were designated Scenic Site No. 24 by the Cultural Heritage Administration on October 1, 2007.
“According to a folk tale, Seungdumal which longed for a the sea gave birth to 6 islets of Oryukdo Islands in a row. After that, its bulging belly changed to a concave shape, which became a pier and the hill at the entrance.” [sic]
Another but closer look from the Igidae trail. The skywalk is becoming a bit clearer.
The 35-meter long skywalk
Oryukdo Skywalk was built on Seungdumal, a natural boundary between the East Sea and South Sea and beyond which the two seas meet in a passion of color and force. The construction began on September 12, 2012, with an investment of 1.4 billion KRW at the expense of the state and the city. It was completed and opened to the public on October 18, 2013 and named Oryukdo Skywalk, which carries the meaning of  “walking in the sky”.

The walkway is a 15-meter long horseshoe-shaped glass bridge consisting of iron beams installed on a 35-meter high coastal cliff with 24 glass panels laid on top. The floor is designed with safety in mind—55.49 mm thick, high-load-bearing and bullet-resistant glass. That is, the 4 layers of 12mm-thick glass panels are made more durable with a bullet-proof film.

The film and glass are surprisingly clear for their thickness, and to facilitate visitors in getting the clearest view of the ocean hitting the rocks below, visitors are required to put on booties to keep from leaving footprints and soil on the glass.
 I get a big kick out of the narcissism here in Korea, especially evident along the Igidae trail that ends here at the Oryukdo Skywalk. All along the trail there were signs proclaiming that “here is a photo opportunity”, and of course people are taking all sorts of pictures—group shots, couple-shots and or course loads of self-ies. And here was no exception. The whole skywalk was filled with people with cameras, not so much snapping the scenery but self-ies with the scenery in the background.

I wouldn't be surprised to see this scene show up in a movie. The speed boat and jet skis lined up and at some signal they all took off maintaining a careful distance from one another and not really to race.

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